Today, January 6, is Epiphany. It's origins as a Christian celebration predate Christmas. In some parts of the world, it's still the more important celebration of the two.

Epiphany, from the Greek, epiphaneia, means appearing, appearance, or coming, from roots epi (on, over, in the presence of), and phaneraow (to make known, or make clear).

The story of Epiphany is from Matthew 2: 1-12, the story of the 3 magi (or wise men, or kings). The Greek says, magi, which would have meant astrologers to the people who first told the story, wrote it down, and read it. I don't know any astrologers personally, but the ones I hear about are neither wise nor kingly – mostly they're scammers, charlatans, and hacks. In any case, they were following a star they understood was leading them to something more significant.

The early church marked Epiphany as a reminder of the appearance of the messiah, the first story of recognition, the moment of clarity, that Jesus has implications beyond the sentimental story. Implications that draw the interest of both charlatans and, because the story takes place in the shadow of King Herod, government. (I'll let you draw your own connection, if you wish, between charlatans and government.) These are implications the 21st century church would do well to be reminded of.

This Epiphany, may you be reminded of those moments of clarity and their implications, and may you follow the light of the brightest star in your sky to the most important things in the new year.