“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it”
Saying and doing. Acting upon what has been said. Does it mean just simply doing what you are told – mindlessly and without thinking? By no means. Epiphany presents us with the great wonder and mystery of God revealed to us through the words and deeds and person of Jesus Christ. The Feast of the Epiphany itself marks the break-out from Bethlehem in the sense of the making known of Christ’s birth to all people. The Magi-Kings present gifts to the Child Christ. They are gifts which teach. Christ is King, and God and Sacrifice. And then The First Sunday after Epiphany presents to us the story of the boy Jesus at the age of twelve being found in the Temple in Jerusalem in the midst of the doctors of the Law. The scene is all about teaching and learning, things which have very much to do with our humanity in concert with divinity. God and Man. Jesus the Divine Teacher; Jesus the human student. What is signaled ever so profoundly, too, is the mission and purpose of Christ’s Incarnation.
“Wist ye not”, he says to Mary. “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business”, or as another possible way of translating puts it, “in my Father’s house”. Epiphany is all about the things of God revealed to us through the humanity of Jesus. Central to the teaching or doctrine of Epiphany is the relationship between power and wisdom. The first article of the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, for instance, identifies three essential attributes of God: his infinite wisdom, power and goodness. When wisdom and power fall apart then we have abuse and destruction, bullying and domination – all at the expense of wisdom and truth. It is the story of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st. Epiphany, to the contrary, points out the essential and necessary connection between wisdom and power. Such things belong to God and only then by extension to the shaping and ordering of our lives in community.