Epiphany is the celebration of God’s manifestation or self-revelation to the world in Jesus Christ. In particular, we celebrate the revelation of God’s promise and purpose to the nations of the world, as the magi came from the East to worship to the Christ child, and God’s covenant of grace is extended to all who believe the good news of Christ Jesus. The symbolism of light is important: not only because of the star that guided the magi, but as it relates to the bright dawning of God’s self-revelation in Christ.
An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship(Geneva Press, 2003, 94-95)
The word “epiphany” (from the Greek epiphaneia ortheophaneia) means “appearance” or “manifestation” of God, and has roots in the word for sunrise or dawn. In ancient times, an epiphany meant either a visible manifestation of a god or the solemn visit of a ruler venerated as a god.
For Christians, Christmas marks the coming of God to us; Epiphany celebrates the appearance of the Lord in the midst of humanity. The Christmas stories of the birth of Immanuel declare the divine entry; Epiphany extols the revelation of God to the world in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
In our celebrations of Christmas and Epiphany we rejoice in the dawning and the arising of Light in darkness. … Epiphany not only discloses the Savior to the world but also calls the world to show forth Christ, to be witnesses to God’s true Light. The timeless mystery of the incarnation, God in flesh, leads us forth to show and tell of Christ as God’s gift of grace and salvation for all persons. Some call this ongoing epiphany the work of Christmas.