Epiphany or Theophany?

These comments are out-of-season, obviously, and also more comparative than I like to be normally, as I’ve said. But….

Western Epiphany celebrates the physical revelation of the Baby Jesus to the Gentiles, in the visit of the Three Kings: Orthodox Theophany celebrates the mystical revelation of the Trinity to humankind, in the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan, one of the most important feasts on the Orthodox calendar. Now, most years the West has the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Sunday after Epiphany, a minor Sunday celebration of the pouring of water and a bird in the Latin Church, I can’t say about high Protestant churches.

This is typical of the difference between rationalistic Western religion on the one hand, and transformational Eastern Orthodoxy on the other.

BTW, Orthodoxy includes the Magi in its celebration of Christmas, so by the time we get to January 6, we’re already into Christ’s adult ministry, far more important than “Little Christmas.” Though I must confess to being tempted by the passion of nostalgia for my “Twelve Days of Christmas”…. And I have no idea where my parochial school teachers got the idea that the Magi are a bigger deal in “the Eastern Church”….


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