Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means “to appear.” A nuance to the ancient Greek term is that the word also means “to shine”. Many elements of the story of the magi involve a shining forth of something: the magi see the star that shines and this appearance leads them on a quest to find the messiah. Later, angels will appear to tell them go home by another way, warning them off of Herod. Of course, most centrally of all, it is the appearance of God, in the form of a vulnerable baby, that manifests itself. At the heart of the story, what shines forth is that the divine appears in a human being, and so shows the divine to all of humanity. A different Gospel author, John, will say “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

We are invited both to go back and to remember the appearance and revelation of God to the world through the person of Jesus, as an historical event, and to go on our own kind of quest to find the divine in our world, too. Christ is still present in this world: in the beauty of the stars, the natural world through which we traverse every day, and especially in the faces of other human beings. We can recall and savor places where we have seen Christ in another. We can seek Christ still in our every day lives. The promise that “God is with us” was not only for people in other times, but also a promise for us today, too. God is with us. God’s love continues to shine and radiate through the darkness of this world. Are we on a quest to find it, and to give even ourselves as gifts to the divine in our midst?