Greek επιφάνεια: "manifestation" or "appearance"
On the day of Epiphany, January 6, the church celebrates the revelation of Christ to all nations as represented by the magi who come to worship Jesus. The church calendar recognizes the season of Epiphany from January 6 until the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday which is celebrated as the Transfiguration of our Lord. The length of the season of Epiphany varies and is determined by working backwards through the season of Lent from the moveable date for the celebration of Easter.
- The revelation of Christ to all nations
- Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan
- Christ as the light of the world
- The public ministry of Jesus Christ, including Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana
- Growth in a Christian's baptized identity
Color of the Season
- White, a color associated with the festivals of Christ and suggesting gladness, joy and light for the day of Epiphany, the first week after the Epiphany when the Baptism of our Lord is celebrated, and the last week of the season of Epiphany when the Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated.
- Green, the color used for times when festival or penitential colors are not appropriate. Green is reminiscent of living plants and suggests spiritual growth. Green is used in the season of Epiphany beginning with the second week after the Epiphany until the week before the Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated.
Planning the Liturgy
- The festival of the Epiphany of our Lord does not always fall on a Sunday. If it does not, consider an evening liturgy on January 6 to celebrate the festival.
- Use the Kyrie on the "white" Sundays of Epiphany. Omit it on the "green" Sundays. Use the hymn of praise throughout the season.
- Have the children participate in the festival Epiphany worship by bringing the magi to the nativity scene. Decorate the corridors that lead to the sanctuary with stars made by Sunday school classes.
- On the festival of the Baptism of our Lord (the first Sunday after the Epiphany) include a Thanksgiving for Baptism at the beginning of the worship service. See page 97 of Evangelical Lutheran Worship for a form of the Thanksgiving.
- Present bibles to children on the festival of the Baptism of Our Lord as a sign that the baptismal promise to "place in their hands the holy scripture" made by parents, sponsors and the congregation is being fulfilled.
- Use the Nicene Creed for the "white" Sundays of the season. Use the Apostles' Creed for the "green" Sundays after the Epiphany.
- Use the proper preface for Epiphany that can be found in the Leader's Edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship on page 183.
- Use Eucharistic Prayer 1 found on page 108-109 of the pew edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship or page 194-195 of the Leader's Edition. This Eucharistic prayer contains images and language that are particularly appropriate for the season.
- The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18-25 and is an opportunity to participate with other churches in cooperative worship or activities. The week is framed by the lesser festivals of the Confession of St. Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of Paul (January 25).
- Have a ritual of farewell to Alleluia on the festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord. An alleluia banner can be processed into and out of the church or banners of alleluias can be placed in a sturdy box and buried. Tell the congregation that the alleluias will be absent from worship until the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. See more in our FAQ, "Why don't we use Alleluias during Lent?"
At the close of the worship services, the assembly is sent out to seek the presence of God in their everyday lives and to offer their gifts of service.
- Because the season of Epiphany has a global focus with the magi from the East, offer a visual representation of the world outside the worship space where everyone will see. Highlight current events and ministries that are happening all over the world through the Lutheran World Federation or Lutheran World Relief.
- Since the end of the Middle Ages, families and communities have gathered at the main entrances of homes and dwelling places for a blessing on the Day of Epiphany with readings, prayers and by inscribing the door lintel with the year and the letters, C, M, and B (20 + C + M + B + 08). The letters represent the names of the magi whose visit to the child Jesus is recalled on the festival of the Epiphany of our Lord. Church tradition since the seventh century names the magi Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar even though the narrative of Matthew chapter 2 does not dictate the number of magi or their names. This yearly ritual reminds the inhabitants of a home that their lives reflect the light of Christ and seeks the revelation of the blessing of God in their lives. You can find a version of this ritual in the Sundays and Seasons online or in print or at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s worship website.
- Stars are a traditional symbol of the festival of Epiphany. Make stars to decorate above the crèche. Bake star cookies. Use the opportunity to talk about how we seek Christ in the world.
- Encourage all family members, even the youngest and the oldest, to use the gifts God has given them in service that reveals the light of Christ in the world.