Today is the Epiphany. Epiphany is a Christian feast day which celebrates the appearing of God to man in Jesus Christ. It follows the twelve days of Christmas. Thus it is usually celebrated on the 6th of January, although some traditions celebrated it differently. In Epiphany, the Western church commemorated the visitation of the Magi, while the Eastern church commemorated the baptism of Jesus by the Baptist. Tomorrow, one day after the Epiphany, Southern Sudan will be having its referendum, to determine whether they will remain within the current Sudan or split and form an independent state. Sudan has been castrated by civil wars for a long, long time. Let us pray for peace. We know exactly how a vote for independence could go ugly easily, as our national experience with East Timor attested, where the Indonesian government decided to ravage the newly separated state before leaving it in desolation.
The seventh of January will also mark the celebration of Christmas in several church traditions who followed not the Gregorian calendar but the Julian. The most prominent one would be the Copts, which were having a nightmare recently as a bomb exploded and killed scores of people during a New Year’s Eve service at al-Qaddisin church (Church of the Saints) in Alexandria. The image above is the painting of Jesus splattered with the blood of the victims in this Alexandrian church. Let us pray for peace. Human civilization was built on blood — usually in the form of war and violence. The church was indeed built on blood, but it was built on the blood of its Head. And, upon the blood of its Body. As Tertullian put it, semen est sanguis christianorum — the blood of Christians is seed (Apologeticus 50.13). The bloody cross of Christ, then, is where God appears and manifests fully.