The term epiphany means 'to show', 'to make known' or 'to reveal'. In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing reveal Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
Growing up next door to Tarpon Springs, Epiphany early on became one of my favourite holidays. Yesterday morning, the clergy blessed the fleet at the Sponge Docks on the Anclote River. Right about now, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta is blessing the waters at Spring Bayou. At 12.30, the dove bearer will release the white dove and the priest will throw the Epiphany Cross into the bayou. 65 young men, who have been waiting in small boats, will dive in after it. The young man who retrieves the cross will receive a special blessing and, custom says, enjoy a year of prosperity.
An Epiphany Prayer
Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus the Christ, we who once were not your people but whom you chose to adopt as your people. As ancient Israel confessed long ago, we realize that it was not because of our own righteousness, or our own superior wisdom, or strength, or power, or numbers. It was simply because you loved us, and chose to show us that love in Jesus.
As you have accepted us when we did not deserve your love, will you help us to accept those whom we find it hard to love? Forgive us, O Lord, for any attitude that we harbor that on any level sees ourselves as better or more righteous than others. Will you help us to remove the barriers of prejudice and to tear down the walls of bigotry, religious or social? O Lord, help us realize that the walls that we erect for others only form our own prisons!
Will you fill us so full of your love that there is no more room for intolerance? As you have forgiven us much, will you enable us with your strength to forgive others even more? Will you enable us through your abiding Presence among us, communally and individually, to live our lives in a manner worthy of the Name we bear?
May we, through your guidance and our faithful obedience, find new avenues in ways that we have not imagined of holding the Light of your love so that it may be a Light of revelation for all people.
We thank you for your love, praise you for your Gift, ask for your continued Presence with us, and bring these petitions in the name of your Son, who has truly revealed your heart. Amen.