Epiphany comes from the Greek translated as “manifestation” or “appearing.” It is a celebration of the appearance of God in the flesh also made manifest in the light of a star. Setting aside a separate day gives us much more time to reflect on what Christ’s manifestation means for our lives and to look for how He has manifested himself to us. The Magi’s journey from many different lands also reminds us that Christ came for all the earth. The early church also commemorated on this day all of Christ’s early manifestations as God: the Magi’s worship of a baby king, Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding of Cana, and his Baptism.
In some cultures, Epiphany is still the principle day to celebrate Christ’s Incarnation and is the day for gift giving. I love that all that we are to learn from Christ’s Nativity is not wrapped up into one day on the 25th but we have 12 which culminates in a reminder of Jesus’ kingship and deity.
Celebrating Epiphany has also been special since it is a day without the pressure and obligations. Here are some of our traditions for Epiphany:
· The children have made and decorated crowns or colored pictures of the Epiphany
· We have a special multi-course meal with Scripture read between courses (Isaiah 60:1-6 , Ephesians 3:1-12 ,Matthew 2:1-12 ,Psalm 72:1-7,10-14),
· We eat a King’s Cake though ours is usually just a box cake cooked in a Bundt pan to look like a crown, decorated with white icing and decorated with gum drops for jewels by the children. Inside the cake is hidden money and the finders get to dress as one of the Wise Men for our procession.
· We then have the Parade of Kings. The children dress up as royalty and we parade around singing, “Oh, Come Let us Adore Him…” Then we gather around the crèche and follow this liturgy from this site:
All stand or kneel behind the kings, around some designation of Christ: a crib, cross, or perhaps simply facing east or looking out the window at the stars.
· King I: We have seen His star in the east, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.
· Reader: Give to the Lord, you families of nations, Give to the Lord glory and praise; Give to the Lord the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his courts; Worship the Lord in holy attire. Tremble before him, all the earth; Say among the nations: the Lord is king. He has made the world firm, not to be moved; He governs the peoples with equity.
· King II: We have seen His star in the east, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.
· Reader: Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; Let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the Lord, for he comes; For he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice, And the peoples with his constancy.
· King III: We have seen His star in the east, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.
· Reader: From the Collect of the Epiphany:
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
If it has been a long night we then close with a brief house blessing which Kerry provides at A Ten O’Clock Scholar but many years we have followed the Service from Book of Occasional Services which Jeanne of At A Hen’s Pace describes well. We go from room to room to pray:
· Living Room—that our home will be a hospitable place and glorify God as we talk and enjoy company
· Dining Room/Kitchen—for provision, for stewardship, for health
· Children’s bedrooms—for their safety, for their future, etc.
· Parent’s bedroom—that we will be bound in love, blessings and protection of the marriage bed
· Bathrooms—that we will be free from vanity, have proper respect for our bodies, be clean inwardly as well as outwardly
· Schoolroom/Study-that our work would glorify God, that it would be done with proper motives, that we would grow in wisdom.
The Children awake to a special present each year and I can’t wait to show you pictures of our new addition this year! And then Christmas is over: the crèche, ornaments, Christmas books and music are packed away and we enter into a new season of the church. We do not leave the babe at the manger but continue to follow his footsteps throughout the year.