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Concise Lexicon of Christianity

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The Season after the Epiphany

Jesus Manifests Himself as God
Epiphany Day is Wednesday, 6 January 2021. The Season after the Epiphany extends through 16 February 2021, which is the day before Lent begins.
The color for the Season after the Epiphany is green to symbolize growth and life. You can read more about color in worship.

White is the color of baptism, resurrection, angels, and any heavenly reality. Therefore, it is the color for Sundays that commemorate events in Jesus’ life, such as the Baptism of our Lord, the Transfiguration, and the Epiphany.

Epiphany is older and historically more important than Christmas, which now outshines it. (See The Apostolic Constitutions) Since Epiphany can fall on any day of the week, many churches observe it on the Sunday before, pushing it back into Christmas. For example, if Epiphany falls on a Thursday, Epiphany Sunday falls on the ninth day of Christmas.

Scripture Readings:
The Revised Common Lectionary appoints Scripture readings for use in worship during the Season after the Epiphany. Since an epiphany is a realization, the Scriptures help us realize Jesus’ identity, with a greater and greater scope. Its climax is the Transfiguration on the last Sunday after the Epiphany.

View the Scripture Readings for the Season after the Epiphany

The East:
Because Orthodox churches calculate Lent differently, their corresponding season ends on a Sunday.

Special Days

The last day of this season is Tuesday, 16 February 2021, the day before Ash Wednesday. It is a traditional party day, not an official holy day. It’s the last chance to indulge oneself before Lent begins. It is variously called:

The general topic of the Epiphany and the season that follows is Jesus’ manifestation of Himself as God. (The word epiphany is Greek for manifestation, and we use it to mean realization.) In most churches, Bible readings and sermons during this time of the year deal with Jesus’ identity.

In the eastern Church, Epiphany commemorates the Baptism of Our Lord. In the western Church, Epiphany commemorates the star and the arrival of the wise men, and the following Sunday is the Baptism of Our Lord.

Epiphany (the day) began in the eastern Church as the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. As the celebration of Christmas spread eastward, Epiphany changed to its present meaning. Some Oriental Christians have not yet acquired Christmas. For them, Epiphany, which they celebrate on January 6 of the Julian calendar, continues to be the celebration of the Nativity.

For lectionary purposes, the Season after the Epiphany begins on the Epiphany, which is 6 January, and ends on the day before Lent. The eastern Church calculates the date of Easter and the length of Lent differently from the western Church.

The purpose of the liturgical calendar is to relive the major events in Jesus’ life in real time. To fulfill the requirements of Leviticus 12:2-8, Mary had to present Jesus at the Temple and offer a sacrifice. According to Luke 2:22-24, she did just that. If Jesus were born on 25 December, then this would have occurred on 2 February. Therefore, 2 February is known in the historic church as The Presentation or The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple.

Incidentally, if you compare Leviticus 12:2-8 with Luke 2:22-24, you will find that Mary and Joseph were of modest means.

Roughly speaking, the western Church consists of Protestants, Catholics, and Anglicans. The eastern Church consists of the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the eastern-rite churches affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

Other Seasons

Advent | Christmas | Lent | Holy Week | Easter | after Pentecost

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