Epiphany is a season of four to nine weeks, from the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6) through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season varies according to the date of Easter. The gospel stories of this season describe various events that manifest the divinity of Jesus. The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Epiphany. The Baptism of our Lord is observed on the Sunday after Epiphany. The gospels for the other Sundays of the Epiphany season describe the wedding at Cana, the calling of the disciples, and various miracles and teachings of Jesus. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always devoted to the Transfiguration. Jesus' identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed in the Transfiguration gospel, as well as the gospel of the baptism of Christ. We are called to respond to Christ in faith through the showings of his divinity recorded in the gospels of the Epiphany season. Episcopalchurch.org
As we look at the calendar above, we are immediately aware that the seasons of Epiphany and Pentecost are symbolized by the color Green. This may seem odd, especially when we are thinking of Pentecost and the fiery orange-red of the “tongues of fire,” but there is a good reason for it.
The Festival of Epiphany is always on January 6th (thirteen days after Christmas), and the season of the church year that follows is about the unwrapping of the Father’s gift to the world of his only-begotten Son (‘epiphanos’ is a Greek word for ‘to be visible’). Christmas was about Jesus as fully human—a baby son born to Mary and laid in a manger. But Epiphany is about a Jesus who is fully divine—the Son of God, made known to the world. The revelation of God in the form of a child revealed the love of God in a manner that no one had ever imagined. God would sacrifice all to offer everything to those who, though they did not know it, had nothing.
Green is symbolic of resurrection and the newness of life. Spring is a time of rebirth and the revelation of life; green blossoms within us feeling of praise, growth, prosperity; a new beginning, flourishing, and restoration. There are many passages in the Bible in which the color green is invoked. The description of growing things inspires and brings a certain peace to the lessons being taught and provides an apt metaphor for the people of God.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
The connection between a flourishing and fruitful world and a growing and deepening disciple is found through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Fiery red is the color of the Spirit in presence at the moment of revelation, but green is the color of the Spirit in constant revelation in and through everything that God has made.
Green, during Epiphany, reminds us that as we meet Jesus in the Gospels, we are growing in Christ through the Holy Spirit and hearing the call to spread God’s Word throughout the world. The Epiphany revelations of incarnation and blessing (the visit of the Magi and Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan) are linked to the color green to remind us that we are workers fed and sustained by the actions we take in response to that revelation. In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the lament goes forth that without God the intended and proper flourishing of creation (of the individual) is impossible,
The waters of Nimrim are dried up and the grass is withered;
the vegetation is gone and nothing green is left. Isaiah 15:6
Anyone who has lived in a non-green part of the world for a length of time knows just how primal this truth is: there is an actual spiritual ache for the witness green growth. This is the other reason the oasis in the tan sea of the desert is such a welcome sight.
Be immersed in the green of Epiphany and send forth new shoots to the Son! Be bathed in the Light of the Word and reflect that light so that others may grow! Recline in green pastures God has led you to and find the peace and joyful repose that will calm your soul.
Growing in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†