Celebrating The Feast Of Epiphany In America 2021

Jan 16th, 2021 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

On the traditional church calendar, January 6 is called the Feast of Epiphany, “when Christians celebrate how the light of Christ spreads to all nations. The season of Epiphany—also called Theophany in the East—focuses on Jesus’ revelation of his true identity to all the world.” In the West, it centers on the Magi finding Jesus.  “In the weeks ahead, the Epiphany season recalls the baptism of Christ and the wedding at Cana, Jesus’ first miracle.”


For America, was 6 January 2021, the day of Epiphany, a day of light, the light of Christ?  I would suggest it was a day of darkness.  Since 2002, on Christmas Day, the Omaha World Herald has published an op ed Christmas essay I have written.  Here are excerpts from my 2020 Christmas Day essay:


Most of us are ready to say goodbye to 2020, a year filled with so much darkness: The disruptive, deadly COVID pandemic; toxic politics; wildfires in the West; a record number of hurricanes; and economic and financial disarray.  This darkness is intensified by the utter confusion that plagues our Postmodern culture, a confusion marked by a seeming inability to answer two simple questions—“what is right and who am I?” Indeed, freedom today is expressed with the ring of an old maxim, “Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes.” Our spiritually dark world, groping for stability, stumbles into repeated calamity.  Therefore, we embrace Christmas as a season of hope; of light, not darkness.  

Christmas marks the incarnation of the Son of God.  Until then, no one had ever lived in a world where the Son of God had dwelt among us as a fellow human being. The birth of Jesus changed that. Hope was no longer abstract; a Light had dawned.  Isaiah 9:2, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light,” is a celebrated Christmas text, cherished in Handel’s Messiah as one of the prophecies of the birth of Jesus.  To “see a great light” implies life, truth and beauty. First, darkness sees life as a mere product of random, impersonal forces; a life without meaning or purpose.  The Light shines and real life begins.  Second, darkness yields error, falsehood and distortion, while the Light reveals the truth of things.  Finally, darkness hides beauty, while the Light yields dazzling joy and celebration of the exquisite. 

Consider the shepherds, who were given only the smallest glimpse of the Light that Christmas night. They didn’t know he would literally calm storms, heal the sick, raise the dead or feed the multitudes. They knew nothing of his Cross or Resurrection. Yet the shepherds now had enough Light to inch back into their dark world rejoicing and praising God.  A staggering amount of light about Jesus has been shed since the shepherds. History continues to provide both evidence and explanation of the light Jesus brings No one’s teaching has had a deeper impact on culture, politics, morality, justice, philosophy, and human character than Jesus. Indeed, in a recent book by British historian, Tom Holland (Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World), Jesus and his movement called Christianity are characterized as “the most subversive revolution in human history, whose legacy is the ongoing disruption of settled patterns of life.”  With his emphasis on love and human equality, Jesus undermined tyranny, racism, men’s abuse of women and selfish imperialism.  He offered salvation to all humans and provided the foundation for a new kingdom, the kingdom of God—with values, virtues and standards that undermine the kingdom of darkness in this broken, fallen world.  Jesus created “the most influential framework for making sense of human existence that has ever existed.” 

As Dorothy Sayers, British essayist and novelist declared, “He is a light for us when all other lights go out.” In fact, Jesus, the incarnate God, declared that he is “the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).  That Light challenges us to consider that there is something transcendent, eternal and greater than we are.  That Light is the Lord of two worlds—the material and the spiritual—who decided to live, for a season, by the rules of the one, so that he could overcome through his cross its darkness and brokenness. The famous Christian apologist C.S. Lewis argued that the Incarnation of Jesus was an event that was either true or false.  If false, it was irrelevant; if true, it changed everything.  There could be no middle ground.  The birth of Jesus was a brilliant, stunning and divine Light ultimately illuminating life, truth and beauty. 

If Christmas is the coming of the Light of the World, then Epiphany continues that celebration of light.  However, as Tish Harrison Warren of the Anglican Church in North America has observed, “what a strange Epiphany we had in the United States. Instead of Magi worshiping a newborn king, MAGA hats descended on our nation’s capital. Instead of the baptism of Christ announcing his true identity, men and women held signs proclaiming “JESUS SAVES” as they demanded to overturn an election. Instead of a miraculous display of love at a wedding feast, we saw a display of political violence . . . The violence wrought by Trump supporters storming the Capitol . . .  is anti-epiphany. It is dark and based in untruth. The symbols of faith—Jesus’ name, cross, and message—have been co-opted to serve [a] cultish end.  In the story of the Magi, King Herod tried to use the wise men as pawns in his own quest to protect his power. “He promised that he too was devout, that they could trust him, and then he asked his astronomer visitors where to find Jesus, so that he also ‘could worship him’ (Matt. 2:8).”  Therefore, both the original Epiphany and the 2021 Epiphany remind us that “the very language of worship can be wielded as a weapon of earthly political power.”


Daniel Harrell, editor in chief of Christianity Today, poignantly concludes that what we observed on 6 January “is America.  We are helplessly divided, entrenched, angry, and unrepentant—all characteristics Scripture characterizes as ‘the world’ (1 Cor. 1), a state of reality opposed to the kingdom of God.  As Christians, we default to prayer, asking God for help, for peace, for justice, for righteousness to roll. Somehow some still prayed for overturning the election, abetting the mob and giving into the falsehood. The aims and objects of prayer depended on the side you sit on.”   Indeed, as Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans, even amid four years of a blood-soaked Civil War:

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. (Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, March 4, 1865)

Hence, Harrell is certainly correct in his admonishment:  “As Christians, whatever our politics, [the insurrection of 6 January] demands we disentangle and reject the suspicions, lies, grievances, umbrages, and arrogance that have characterized our politics and country and its leaders of late. We must refuse to let our faith be co-opted by political power and principalities—despite our allegiance to country—and recommit, with humble hearts, to Christ and his kingdom . . . .” The Gospel “casts out fear (1 John 4:18), but also anger, hate, anxiety, and deceit. Rather than any passive acquiescence, love ferociously resists with the force of resurrection, day by day, defeating even death and the Devil for the sake of justice and mercy and humility on earth.”

Tish Harrison Warren correctly poses these questions:  “So what are we to do? How can we move forward as Christians when it seems our very churches have become the epicenters of post-truth? How can we walk in the way of Jesus when his illumination has been traded for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic scare tactics? . . . We have to take up the slow work of repair, of re-forming our churches around the deep, unchanging truths of the light of Christ. We must reconstruct communities where we can know and speak truth, serve the needy and the poor, love our neighbors, learn to be poor in spirit, rejoice in suffering, and witness to the light of Christ amid darkness.”


The toxic politics of 2020-2021 are not only tearing our country apart; they are sowing immense discord and chaos in our churches.  We must rebuild our churches around the Gospel and the exhortations of discipleship so clearly taught in the New Testament.  As Christians we do not serve a political party; we serve Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of lords.

See Tish Harrison Warren, “We Worship with the Magi, Not MAGA” and Daniel Harrell, “We Serve the Purposes of God, Not the Politics of Men” ” in www.christiantytoday.com (7 January 2021)

Comments Closed

3 Comments to “Celebrating The Feast Of Epiphany In America 2021”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    What some characterize as overturning the election others characterize as trying to correct a fraudulent election. The lesson for anti-Trumpers should be the same as for pro-Trumpers. It is amazing how so many Christians can side with a pro-abortion candidate and an anti-Israel candidate in service to God. Let us recognize that the Bible is truth whereas both leftist and conservative dogma will deviate.

  2. Jim Roberts says:

    For the last 4 years you have attacked President Trump, never giving him credit for any of his accomplishments. During that same 4 year period we watched as the Left endlessly did any and every despicable thing they could, to either remove him from office, or destroy Trump.
    Find me one leader or former leader of the Democrat party, that did not declare Trump to be an illegitimate President. Just one of many quotes that are easy to find: “I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Carter said at a panel discussion hosted by his eponymous Carter Center in Leesburg, Va. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”  
    Then there is the January 6th so called insurrection, where of the tens of thousands of Trump supporters in DC that day, a handful, probably less than 1% of those in attendance were allowed into the Capitol and got out of hand. As more facts come out about what happened, there is evidence that some of the rioters were not Trump supporters, but likely either BLM or ANTIFA. No matter, we will blame Trump, because he pushed back against the establishment, and most of all he refused to play the part of President by having handlers telling him what and what not to say.
    Jimmy Carter who considers himself to be a top notch born again Christian, seems to have no problem making ludicrous statements like the one above, about someone who to put it mildly he has a deep dislike for. Its sad that I have seen much of the same behavior from you for the past 4 years.
    I could list my own criticisms of Trump, I have not agreed with him on everything, which would be shocking to you, since for 4 years you have suggested that Trump supporters are cult members, and cult members would never criticize their leader.
    Trump’s many accomplishments prove his love of country:

        defused the North Korean and Iranian nuclear threats,
        completely defeated the ISIS caliphate,
        concluded the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan,
        renegotiated trade agreements,
        strengthened NATO,
        brought energy independence to the USA,
        presided over the strongest economic recovery in history, especially for minorities,
        husbanded historic stock market highs,
        freed businesses from strangling regulations,
        advanced religious liberty,
        protected freedom of speech,
        thwarted illegal immigration,
        rebuilt the military,
        kept the promise to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,
        brokered peace treaties between Israel and former enemies,
        protected the rights of the unborn,
        protected Second Amendment rights,
        advanced health insurance reforms, and
        reformed the VA hospital system.

    • Jim Eckman says:

      The Issues of 16 January 2021 focused on the darkness of the day of Epiphany: The insurrection was a dark, dire threat to America’s democracy—and, as the FBI arrests and charges have proven, was fostered by the President, his son and his attorney. The number involved in the insurrection is irrelevant; the carnage is not. As I stated, “The toxic politics of 2020-2021 are not only tearing our country apart; they are sowing immense discord and chaos in our churches. We must rebuild our churches around the Gospel and the exhortations of discipleship so clearly taught in the New Testament. As Christians we do not serve a political party; we serve Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Your response demonstrates this truth. Serious Christians have disagreed about the last four years—and done so with honesty and understanding. For me, John Piper and Wayne Grudem have modeled this for us. The character, integrity and truthfulness of the moral leader of the United States is an issue about which Christians should be able to have a God-honoring discussion. Piper and Grudem have disagreed fundamentally about President Trump’s character, his integrity and his presidency. But they did so with honor, never personally attacking one another. Those involved with Issues in Perspective value liberty of conscience, liberty of faith and liberty of expression. Accusatory bullying among Christian brothers is not honoring to God.