We know the word: a moment of piercing awareness, the sudden jolt of understanding. Imagine, then, that moment stretched out over a period of time. This is the season of Epiphany, a season celebrating the revelation of the Savior, the light of the world.

Epiphany begins on January 6 and is marked by several events and themes in the life of Jesus: the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the wedding feast at Cana (the beginning of Jesus’ ministry through signs and wonders). Each event unveils the fuller dimensions of the man we call Jesus. He is the worshiped King of kings, the dearly loved Son of God, and the miracle working Lord of the feast. Throughout the season of Epiphany (which some count as one day only, with the rest considered part of Ordinary Time) we focus on the ministry of Jesus: the calling of the disciples, the teachings of Christ, his miracles, and finally his transfiguration.

As we journey through Epiphany, which leads up to Lent, we catch sight of the uniqueness of Christ. The epiphany of Epiphany is that this is no mere teacher or prophet—this is the Son of God, the Messiah.

There’s also an unmistakable missional bent to Epiphany. Jesus, the light of the world, calls us to let our light shine before others (Matt. 5:14-16). Drawn by the light of his star, the Magi came and signaled the universal scope of Christ’s mission, where the nations of the world come to worship the King of kings. Epiphany calls us to live God’s mission, announcing the good news of Christ’s arrival to every culture and to those who live across the street, bearing the light of Jesus to the nations and to those who share a home with us. We, the church, are sent out as the manifestation of Jesus to a watching world.

Epiphany is a season of variable length. As you follow the dates column, look for the signal to go to Lent in the particular year.