Two years ago during a brief research visit to Manchester, England, I was introduced to a litany for Epiphany that tugged at the strings of my heart & mind. It was shared by Dr. Peter Rae of Nazarene Theological College at the morning chapel. I am going to share the litany with you, but I also wanted to share some thoughts from Dr. Rae that morning that have come to mind on the occasions when the word “epiphany” has made its way into conversations and reading materials I’ve come across in the time since that morning. Of course, this day (January 6) is the Day of Epiphany. For the Churches in the western tradition (Roman Catholic and Protestant), Epiphany is the celebration in which we recall the visit of the Magi (or wise men) to the child Jesus. For most Christians in the eastern tradition, however, Epiphany is associated with the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God at his baptism by John in the Jordan River, which will draw the attention of many next Sunday in the first Sunday after Epiphany. And it was this account that Dr. Rae focused upon in his thoughts at chapel that morning.
Francesco Albani's painting of the Baptism of Christ. Photo credit:

Francesco Albani’s painting of the Baptism of Christ. Photo credit:

Dr. Rae pointed out that for many Christians in evangelical circles, “Epiphany” would show up in the working vocabulary of very few of them. His own first encounter with the term was not in church but in a literature class when a story was told of a man who came to a realization (“epiphany”) of his own identity and significance. Epiphany was that “aha!” or light bulb moment that altered the way that he viewed his place in the world. Epiphany for John the Baptist, on the other hand, was not a realization of his own identity and significance so much as it was the awareness of the significance and identity of Another. “I should be baptized by you…” he tells Jesus. And “I am not worthy to untie [Jesus’] sandals…” still more, “[Jesus] must increase, I must decrease.” These are the words of the one who has had a true Epiphany…an Epiphany of Our Lord, as the day is called. With that, I share with you the litany from that morning. (Since the time of first hearing this, I discovered it was published in a book called “The Wideness of God’s Mercy,” which you can find out more about here.)
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God, Alleluia!
Shout to the Lord, all the earth, Alleluia!
With joy let us pray to our Savior,
the Son of God who became one of us, saying:
The grace of God be with us all.
O Christ, let your gospel shine in every place
where the Word of life is not yet received.
Draw the whole creation to yourself
that your salvation may be known through all the earth.
The grace of God be with us all.
O Christ, Savior and Lord,
extend your church to every place.
Make it a place of welcome for people of every race and tongue.
The grace of God be with us all.
O Christ, Ruler of rulers,
direct the work and thoughts of the leaders of nations
that they may seek justice,
and further peace and freedom for all.
The grace of God be with us all.
O Christ, Master of all,
support of the weak and comfort of the afflicted,
strengthen the tempted and raise the fallen.
Watch over the lonely and those in danger.
Give hope to the despairing
and sustain the faith of the persecuted.
The grace of God be with us all. Amen.
O Christ, light that made manifest as the true light of God,
gladden our hearts on the joyful morning of your glory;
call us by our name on the great Day of your coming;
and give us grace to offer,
with all the hosts of heaven,
unending praise to God
in whom all things find their ending,
now and forever. Amen.