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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Joy of Epiphany on a Snowy Day

Adoration of the Kings in the Snow

Tempera on panel, 35 x 55 cm
Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur

With the lamp softly burning upon my table top and snow softly falling in the early morning of the day after the Epiphany, there is some time to reflect on what has past. The "Adoration of the Kings" in the Snow" surely is not the typical Reformation painting of the Epiphany. Pieter the Elder, a flemish painter, Lucas Cranach the Elder he is not. Pieter the Elder does do the typical 16th century motif in this; the magi come to adore the Christ child not in historical Palestine, but in a typical European village. It is representative of the best Christ for you right where you are at and in the case of this painting, Christ in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a 16th century Flemish village. This also is perhaps the first painting in the history of European art to depict falling snow. If the Adoration of the Magi were to occur in Saint Louis, MO today, the kings would be traveling through the falling snow.

In the painting, the events of ordinary life transpire. Soliders have started a fire near the manager. People are traveling in the snow. Villagers are getting water out of a hole in the ice on a pond. The Virgin Mary and the Christ child almost go unnoticed on the far left side of the painting. This is much like it was when the Epiphany took place in Palestine. The majority of people went on with life as normal, carrying out their daily activities, with no notice of the Christ child, his mother, or the kings who came to adore Him.

So it was for me yesterday on the Epiphany, caught day long meetings at the International Center, headquarters of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. With deadlines, busyness, meetings, and important things to do, it is easy to miss Jesus in His Epiphany. In fact, at least for me at the International Center, Jesus might have entirely missed the Epiphany were it not for an organ prelude I heard and a devotion Rev. Matt Harrison spoke at the front of a meeting. Harrison pulled out his tattered and worn Greek Testament and read from Matthew 2:10:

ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα. 
(And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.)

The wise men from the east had the very first joy of Epiphany. Their hearts were full of joy because their guide, the star, appeared to show them where their Savior was to be found. "And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him." (Matthew 2:11). It is no wonder that they had "joy" for in Greek there is a connection between "joy" and "grace". The wise men had great joy because they had received grace, the kindness and favor of the their God, who manifested himself -- had His Epiphany -- to them in the town of Bethlehem.

To hear the "joy" of the Matthew 2:1-12 in Greek, from the Greek/Latin New Testament.Com:

Follow along with the Greek text from The Online Greek Bible:

Matthew 2:1-12

1Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐν ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως, ἰδοὺ μάγοιἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα 2λέγοντες, Ποῦ ἐστιν  τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων;εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ. 3ἀκούσας δὲ  βασιλεὺςἩρῴδης ἐταράχθη καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ' αὐτοῦ, 4καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶγραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ' αὐτῶν ποῦ  Χριστὸς γεννᾶται. 5οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆςἸουδαίας: οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου: 6Καὶ σύ, Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐντοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα: ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ. 7ΤότεἩρῴδης λάθρᾳ καλέσας τοὺς μάγους ἠκρίβωσεν παρ' αὐτῶν τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος, 8καὶπέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ εἶπεν, Πορευθέντες ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου: ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητεἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ. 9οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπορεύθησαν, καὶἰδοὺ  ἀστὴρ ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ προῆγεν αὐτοὺς ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον. 10ἰδόντεςδὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα. 11καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν εἶδον τὸ παιδίον μετὰΜαρίας τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶνπροσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν. 12καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ' ὄναρ μὴἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, δι' ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν. 


  1. What a great site! Both yours, and the audio greek & latin site. Thanks so much!

  2. Todd, thanks for dropping by... look forward to posting more.