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Today is Epiphany.

This is the liturgical holiday on which we celebrate again the coming of Christ, this time with a focus on the Magi. Taking place after the Christmas holiday, Epiphany celebrates how, after the Jewish Shepherds were invited to see the Christ-child, the Gentile Magi were drawn to the Christ-child by a star.

The larger significance is that the coming of Christ would bring freedom and life, comfort and joy, to all peoples, Jew and Gentile alike. Thanks to the coming and work of Christ, Jew and Gentile, Man and Woman, slave and free, and dare I say black or white, straight or queer, rich or poor, educated or not, etc etc are all now welcome to approach God and experience relationship with Him without fear. On this day, we celebrate the manifestation of Christ, not just to an elite group, but to all people.

There’s a fun tradition here, passed on to me by my Catholic ancestors. The night of January 5, all the kids in the house leave one shoe by the doorstep. In the morning, they find their shoe filled with gifts. (Small gifts, perhaps candy or quarters or other small and special things.) This tradition comes from the idea of the Magi giving gifts to people on their way home from seeing the Christ-child. The idea is that they were so full of joy that they could not help but give to others.

May we continue to be blessed by the meaning of this day. May we continue to encounter the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ, in a deeper way throughout this year. Let us act with compassion and welcome to all people, no matter how different they are from us, for our Lord the Christ certainly welcomed all people to Himself.