It has been one of my favorite songs of the season since I was a child. I have belted it out with family, in congregations and with 400+ schoolchildren at an Episcopal day school connected to a parish where I used to serve. Are you ready? Here goes: "We three Kings of Orient are..." And its rowdy and rambunctious chorus: "Oh... star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright..."
Generally kept in the Christmas carol section of songs of the season, it is actually an Epiphany carol. Words and music were written by an Episcopal clergyman in the 19th century for his children and a Nativity pageant.
The carol is about the Biblical story of the Epiphany as found in Matthew's Gospel. Three mysterious visitors, kings, sages, wise men (Zoroastrians), come from the East to Bethlehem to visit the newborn Christ child.
There is much mystery and intrigue. They follow a magnificent star. They present gifts of great meaning and significance.
They have to avoid Herod, the wicked king of the region, who resists the appearance of God's love.
The word "epiphany" itself means manifestation or revelation. In the Christian tradition, it is the story of the revelation of God and of God's love in the child born in Bethlehem. The revelation is meant for all people, as symbolized by the arrival of the visitors from far, far away.
The theme is clear. There is no limit or boundary to God's love. The whole world, the whole universe and the whole creation is included in that love.
Although the Epiphany has never quite caught on in Western Christianity the way it has in the Eastern (Orthodox) traditions of the church, it is a glorious celebration and possesses such abundant meaning.
How wonderful that those three royal personages appeared on the scene. How wonderful it is that God's love is revealed to everyone, everywhere, without bound or limit.
The truth is that there are epiphanies of the love of God for all of us. It doesn't matter what our journey of faith happens to be or what pathway we are following. God finds ways of revealing and manifesting His love to us.
There are stars that beckon us. There are stories that reflect the meaning and hope of God's presence for us. God is revealed in those we love, those whom we meet, and in the experiences that we have each and every day. Life itself can be an epiphany of the faith, hope and love which are the great gifts of God to us.
Perhaps during this January, Epiphany season, we might be like those kingly wise men ... searching, seeking and following... looking for the radiance and brightness of God.
God does reveal himself. God does manifest his love to us. God's epiphany occurs for us in our hearts, our souls and our lives.