First: A quick explanation for those who are new to the tradition!
With the arrival of Epiphany we end the season of Christmas and begin the new season by celebrating the arrival of the Magi to visit the Christ child. Epiphany is a season of wonder and miracles. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The liturgy for the season of Epiphany remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. In addition to the arrival of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana.
Using these three miracles as our focus, we find our meaning for how we celebrate the season:
We celebrate and explore the ways in which God’s love is made known to us, how the Holy Spirit is revealed in our lives, how Christ grace is shown to us over and over. We also celebrate the ways in which we can make God’s love known everyone, how we can invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the needs of others all around us and guide us in meeting those needs, and how we can show the grace of Christ to everyone we meet.
On January 6, we begin the season with The Feast of Epiphany, celebrating the Magi’s arrival because they embody all of these experiences, and also because their story is the first lesson given in the Gospels that Christ came for all people, that His grace and love is for everyone, not just one specific demographic or region or race or income bracket.
So that is what Epiphany is (from an Episcopal/Protestant stand point anyway! There are always slight variations from faith stream to faith stream,) and below is how we celebrated this fun feast day.
Yesterday was Epiphany, and because it fell on a Wednesday (a night we already hold activities for kids and a service,) we decided to hold a special Epiphany Celebration and service. The activities were simple, fun, and meaningful, and fun was had by all ages!
I thought I would go ahead and post a recap the night with links and ideas, on the chance that some of you might want to host your own Epiphany celebration next year.
Crown Making Craft
Of course! What says Magi/Wise People more than crowns?
I used an Elison Die Cut and 12×12 sheets of colorful cardstock to make the crown cut-outs, and then the kids (and even the teenagers,) decorated them with stickers and markers.
Crown Cake Decorating
King Cakes are associated with Mardi Gras around these parts, so there were none available for our celebration. I didn’t have time to make one (or some of the other traditional breads,) for our feast, so instead we made Crown Cakes.
All you need for Crown Cakes is a series of Bundt Cakes, icing, and “jewel” like candies.
We used Dots, Jelly Beans, and Candied Fruit. I have also seen Rolos, Gum Drops, and Red Hots used.
The kids decorated (with some supervision) the Crown Cakes which was a big hit!
(If however you have time and the inclination to make one of the more traditional cakes or breads you might try this recipe for King Cake: Rosca de Reyes.)
Chalk the Doors
After the cakes and crowns, we walked outside and “chalked” the front door of the church (this is our door at home) as a group and prayed for all who enter our doors.
Chalking the door is a way of “marking our homes, usually at the front or main entrance, with sacred signs and symbols as we ask God’s blessing upon those who live, work, or visit throughout the coming year. In Exodus, the Israelites marked their doors with blood so that the Lord would pass over their homes; but in this service, we mark our doors with chalk as a sign that we have invited God’s presence and blessing into our homes.The numbers at the beginning and end of the inscription that we use for the Epiphany markings simply refer to the current year – in the picture above, 2016. The letters C M B come from the traditional names for the three magi Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. Some also suggest “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means, “May Christ bless this dwelling!” (Which I prefer!)
Just as the Magi first brought gifts, we too wanted to bring something to the altar.
So we gathered diapers, wipes, and baby blankets to be put in our churches food pantry.
The kids carried them in during the processional, and laid them around the manger that was at the foot of the altar, while the congregation sang We Three Kings.
What a sweet moment to see all those diapers piled high around the baby Jesus, and knowing what a difference they will make to our littlest neighbors and their families.
One of the fun surprises of the night was how much fun every one of all ages had!
Which makes me think – you don’t have to have little kids to throw an Epiphany Party next year. This party would work well for: Small Groups, Girlfriends Night-In, Youth Groups, Retirement Homes, Families, Mother’s Day Out, Book Club, MOPS groups, and so many others!
If you want to throw an easy Epiphany Celebration next year (at home or at church) here is what you will need:
- Crown Making Supplies
- Bundt Cakes, Icing, “Jewel” like candies
- Chalk and Prayers (give chalk and printed prayers as party favors to party guest so that they can chalk their own doors.)
- Something People Can Bring as Gifts for a Community in Need (canned foods, diapers, socks, blankets..)
So there you have it – a simple and easy celebration!
Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light