The feast of Epiphany commemorates the visitors from the east who came to Jesus. Their gifts and their origin (they weren’t Jewish) showed that Jesus was king for the whole world. Coming so soon after Christmas as it does (6th January), Epiphany often gets overlooked, but it can be an ideal touchpoint in our ministry with children and families.
Children often go to lots of parties over Christmas, so why not delay your church’s children’s party until Epiphany? That way, you can explore the story of Christmas away from the traditions that have grown up around December, which can distract from the Bible narrative. Alternatively, Epiphany can be the first event to which you can invite Christmas visitors, in order to maintain contact throughout the whole year, not just December.
Of course, you can hold an Epiphany service – all the liturgical information can be found here. If you’re running an Epiphany event or party, there are lots of ideas you can use. Here are a few:
Explore the gifts
Read Matthew 2:1–12 or retell the Bible story (in your own words or using a children’s Bible story book). Use tablets, smartphones or laptops to search the internet for information about gold, frankincense and myrrh. Collate all your discoveries together and wonder what each one might represent, with regards to Jesus – who he is and what he came to do on earth. You might summarise it like this: gold represents Jesus being a king, frankincense that he will draw people closer to God and myrrh that his death will be as important as his life. However, let the children and families come to their own conclusions, allowing them space to listen to God.
Make a galette des rois
A galette des rois is a puff pastry tart traditionally eaten around Epiphany. It’s simple to make, but contains almonds, so you’ll need to be aware of any nut allergies. Mary Berry’s recipe is here. It is traditional to include a bean or other small favour in the tart – whoever find the favour in their slice of tart becomes the king or queen for the party. If you do this, make sure that the favour is obvious enough for it not to be swallowed accidentally!
Go on a treasure hunt
The magi from the east travelled a long way to meet Jesus. Set up a treasure hunt around your space to help the children appreciate the long journey and how committed the travellers were to finding Jesus. For older children, devise some clues for them to solve as they go along. For younger children, create a ‘bear-hunt’ style rhyme to say together as you travel around.
Search for the stars
Before your party, hide lots of stars around your venue (cut these out of paper or use glow-in-the-dark plastic stars). Challenge everyone to find as many stars as they can. As you search, chat about how the visitors from the east followed a strange new star in the sky to find Jesus. If appropriate, share the story about how you found Jesus.
What ideas do you have? Share them with us on Twitter or Facebook!