In worship we celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday before January 6th . Usually this Sunday is in the early days of January but in 2017 it was on Dec. 31st , the Sunday right after Christmas, and that won’t occur again until 2028.
Epiphany, like Christmas, is what is called a traditional date rather than an historical anniversary. No one knows for sure when the birth occurred nor when the Magi arrived, or how many of them there were. Careful reading of the scripture indicates the arrival was not the same day as the birth, but no one knows just how long after it was.
The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” Every year on Epiphany Sunday we retell the story of the Magi bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, as the great reveal of Jesus to the whole world as the promised Messiah.
Matthew 2: 1-12 (the only account of the Magi) : In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.