Epiphany is one of the most joyous feast days in the church year as we celebrate the visit of the Magi and Jesus’ coming as Savior of all people. Because it happens 12 days after Christmas, the celebration can be lost in post-holiday fatigue. However, with a little creative thinking, this holy day can shine. Here are ideas to spark your Epiphany brainstorming session!
1. Twelfth Night Dinner
One of the most traditional ways to celebrate Epiphany is to gather for a meal, tell the story of the Magi visiting the Christ-child and give gifts to the children. To bring the story to life, have some church members dress up as the Magi and recount the story of their journey to Bethlehem in first person while walking around and giving small candies or coins to the children.
You might invite children to participate in a tradition from many parts of the world. Have them leave their shoes by the door as they enter — along with some grass for the wise men’s camels. While the children are inside, have someone remove the grass and replace it with wrapped candies. Remind the children to check their shoes for a little surprise.
2. Magi Star Gazing Night
In honor of these ancient star gazers, celebrate the season by following in their footsteps. Invite the telescoping community to set up their scopes on the church lawn and look up at the night sky. Many theologians and scientists believe that the star the Magi were tracking was actually the planet Jupiter. You can check this chart to see when it is visible in the night sky. To take this idea to the next level, try inviting a local expert to give an astronomy lecture highlighting upcoming astronomical events.
3. King Cake Bake Sale
A food traditionally associated with Epiphany is the King Cake (aka galette des Rois, Bolo Rei, Three Kings Cake, Roscón, etc.). Because it is made in so many different ways around the world, you can offer a variety of cake types in the King Cake-style. King Cakes are round (like a bundt cake) to symbolize a king’s crown. Each King Cake will contain some sort of bean or trinket (even a small plastic baby) to symbolize baby Jesus. Whoever receives the piece with the trinket gets to wear a crown and prepares the cake the next year.
4. Magi Welcoming Teams
This is one of the most common times of year for people to move into a new community, but because of its proximity to holidays it can be difficult for those people to get connected. Consider putting together a packet of information and local goodies and follow in the footsteps of the Magi, taking these gifts to new arrivals in your community.
5. Star Singers Fundraising
In Germany, singers holding a large star go from house to house singing and asking for donations for a worthy cause. You might take your youth choir house to house and use the tradition of putting money in the shoes of children as a way to raise money for a project, mission or ministry.
6. An Epiphany Blessing of Homes and Chalking the Door
Mark the season of Epiphany with a custom long-observed overseas, especially in Great Britain: a Chalking the Door Service. People come together in a gathering place, whether it be a home, hospital, church or workplace, to mark doors with chalk, inviting God’s presence and blessings on the physical space and the people within it. Further details about the service, including special liturgy in remembrance of the three Magi, are provided by Discipleship Ministries.
However you choose to celebrate Epiphany, we hope that your church will be a light in your community reaching out to all people with the grace of Christ.
When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Al. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at JeremyWords.com or follow him on Twitter!