Epiphany: The Unexpected

Today, January 6, many of us tend to reflect on the visit of the Magi as we celebrate Epiphany. I like Epiphany because it connects to where I am at after Christmas. Although most of our Christmas cards would have us believe something different, Mary and Joseph have left the stable at this point. They are in a home, and life has likely resumed some sort of rhythm. At this point, Jesus is likely approaching his second birthday. And then, unexpected visitors bearing great gifts arrive.

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (NRSV) Matthew 2:11

My life is slowly returning to normal after the excitement of Christmas. I have begun taking down some of our Christmas decorations (although the tree and one nativity stay out until Epiphany). My children have returned to school, and my husband and I to work. Hockey practices, swimming lessons, and meetings all begin this week. Life is beginning to have a rhythm again.

Many feel a let-down after Christmas, even a great Christmas celebration. It is hard to get back into routines. Normal feels really normal. I had a great Christmas filled with lots of family time. I had two weeks of vacation. Yet, I am not quite ready for normal yet. So, I still hope for a little more. I hope for the unexpected.

I wonder how Mary and Joseph were feeling when the Magi arrived. We know nothing about the time after Jesus’ birth and the arrival of these special visitors. We are even unsure of where they were residing or what their routine had become. It leaves me wondering how the visit of the Magi affected Mary and Joseph. Did it strengthen their belief that indeed they were parenting the Messiah? Did it renew their energy after the challenges of raising an infant in such uncertain times? Did it evoke fear, or relief?

Today, we will take another day to celebrate. We will celebrate the arrival of the Magi, after so many are finished with ‘Christmas’. We will think about Mary and Joseph and their unexpected visitors. We will let our Christmas lights shine one last time. Today, we will eat and decorate star shaped cookies. We will place the wise men at our nativity scene, and we will read the story of their arrival from Matthew’s gospel.

I know normal has returned, but today we will do a little more. Yes, dinner will be rushed with my son setting off to hockey practice. Yes, the house (and the tree) is looking tired, and we are all feeling a little tired too. Yes, lunches need to be made. But, we can still add a little more to our day to celebrate the God that does the unexpected.

Read Matthew 2:1-12

  • Did anything stand out as you read this passage? Was there something new, or unexpected, when you read this passage today?
  • Think about the timing of the Magi’s arrival. How do you think Mary and Joseph would be living? How do you think that this unexpected event, would have affected them?
  • How will you acknowledge Epiphany? How can you bring the unexpected into your normal today and throughout the year?


Loving God, be with us this day as we remember the Magi that visited the Christ child. Just as the Magi worshipped you, may we take time to worship you today as our Lord and Messiah.

God we know routines can be a good thing, but amidst our routines, help us to find more time for the unexpected. Help us to live, ever attune to your calling in our life, even if that calls us to do the unexpected.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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3 thoughts on “Epiphany: The Unexpected

  • January 6, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for your thought provoking and helpful start to this new year. As we are getting back to routine may we can not forget the gifts the magi did bring to Jesus and the meaning for them in our lives today. May we share them with those we meet and with the challenges we will meet in this coming year.

  • January 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Just an update on my Epiphany. I got my days wrong, so no hockey practice on Epiphany, but it is the night that I rush out to lead youth group. So, still a quick dinner, but we did have a few minutes to decorate star cookies and eat them after dinner. We did talk a little about Epiphany, but no formal time to celebrate. So, the normal did truly embrace the day, but we were still about to acknowledge Epiphany in small ways. I guess that is life, finding moments to see and acknowledge God in our normal. Thanks be to God. (And the tree came down the next day!)


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