Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Christmas: a two week approach

Manana de Reyes by Manuel
Flickr.com_martius/11801437753_CC BY ND 2.0
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 NIV
While we place so much energy into celebrating Christmas on one day, December 25th,  any thought of an additional celebration could give us a nervous break down.

But if we slowed down and savored the true meaning of Christmas-- focused on the fact that Christmas is celebrating "God with us", God revealing himself to all mankind and reconciling us to Him--two weeks would give us plenty of time to reflect on what all that means to us. Don't you think so?
The two weeks between December 25 and January 6th are meant to culminate with Epiphany; a commemoration of the manifestation of Jesus to all nations and peoples through the visit of the three kings, Jesus' baptism, and Jesus' first miracle of turning the water into wine. Historically, the western world focuses celebrations on the visit of the three kings (wise men) who followed the Bethlehem star to Jesus and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
You may not be able to take two weeks vacation for Christmas, but there are many simple ways to commemorate Epiphany on January 6th.  Simply Google "Epiphany celebrations for children" or "Three Kings Day Activities." You can choose how simple or elaborate you'd like to get, but if you're like me, the simpler the better.
Here's some simple and do-able ideas I found:
  1. Read a story based upon the Star or the Three Kings (A Star for Jesus, by our own Crystal Bowman, The Last Straw, by Frederick Thury, Small Camel Follows the Star, by Rachel W. N. Brown, or The Story of Three Wise Kings, by Tomie dePaola)
  2. Read a story and play a simple game like "Follow That Star" where one child dresses in a kings crown and carries a star above her head. She is the leader and the rest of the group must follow her. Play like follow the leader
  3. Make a kings crown out of construction paper and glue pretty glitter or plastic jewels to it
  4. Bake cupcakes topped with frosting and adorned with a gold coin
  5. Gather the gifts and create tactile experiences. Chocolate "gold" coins, essential oils of frankincense and myrrh. These fragrances are readily available under essential oil websites.
  6. Create a simple family dinner and make a Three Kings Cake for dessert. If not a traditional one, just make cupcakes topped with gold coins.
While my culture and church does not formally celebrate Epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day), my husband and I do take two weeks to slow down and savor Christmas. We even keep our Christmas lights in the window until January 6th. We do this not only to commemorate the three kings following the Bethlehem Star, but also to symbolize that Christ is the Light that pierces the darkness. And, if we are Christ-followers, we too, are His light sent out to pierce the darkness around us.
Do  you celebrate Epiphany in any way? Tell us how.
Shining His Light,

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