Mary Ellen Vice
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The feast of the Epiphany is held 12 days after Christmas on January 6th. We celebrate Epiphany at church on the Sunday after New Year's Day, but we can celebrate it at home on the 6th as well.
In some countries, presents are not distributed at Christmas, but at Epiphany because that is when the Wise Men, or Magi, brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The gift of gold represents Jesus' Kingship in Heaven, the frankincense recognised his Divine nature since we use incense to bless things and when we pray , and the myrhh foretold his inevitable death as man.
Epiphany means 'an appearance or a showing'. Jesus was shown to the world, as a King, when the Magi found Him in Bethlehem. They had traveled a very long way, and so they represent the whole world looking for Jesus.
Jesus was shown to be the Son of God, at His baptism at the river Jordan. When his cousin, John the Baptist, baptised him in the river, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, appeared over his head. A voice said; "This is My Son, of whom I am proud."
Jesus was also shown to be Divine, that means God Himself, when He changed water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. This was His first miracle.
Sing all verses of 'We Three Kings.' Discuss what the lyrics mean. What does the song make you think of? Hope, tiredness, faith?
Brainstorm and write down Epiphany related words. Put the list up on the wall. Ask the children what they think they mean. Write down these definitions. Look the words up in the dictionary, and do a 'word-search' with a search engine on these words. Write down the words and their definitions in a work book.
Some suggestions: Magi, Epiphany, gold, frankincense, myrhh, King, gifts, star, Bethlehem, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior, worship, adore, homage. Make a cross word puzzle out of the words.
Have each child make a crown for another child (or Mommy and Daddy!) Decorate it with 'jewels.' Buttons, sparkles, painted pasta shapes, construction paper, or pieces of fabric would work well. Construction paper, cardboard (cereal boxes are a good source of cardboard for the financially challenged moms) or bristol board will work well for the crown itself.
Measure the head and cut a strip 2 inches longer that this measurement. Make one long end flat and on the other cut zig-zags, scallops, points or whatever strikes the imagination. Staple or tape the crown together and begin decorating.
Pretend you are modern Wise Men. Dress up in your crowns, and add capes and other Wise men clothes. What gifts would you bring this baby King? What do you think Jesus needs? What do you think he would like you to give Him?
Read aloud, or have the children read 'The Gift of the Magi' by O. Henry. Other possibilities for reading are; the Christmas scene from 'Little House in the Big Woods' by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and an unabridged version of 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. Discuss this giving from the heart. Is it better than giving things and thinking about money? Why?
Discuss what gifts God has given your family, you and your children. Some examples might be: gift of singing, ability to read and a love of books, drawing talent, Gramma. Discuss with them the idea that some gifts are things and other gifts are graces, talents and abilities. We usually give each other things, while God gives us talents and graces. How can we give each other and God our talents and abilities instead of material things?
Editors Note: With this first Activity Page, we introduce a new contributor to Domestic-Church.Com.
Mary-Ellen Vice is a friendly, energetic and extremely talented mother of four young boys aged 9 to 18 months. She is an elementary school music and drama teacher, who has also taught kindergarten and Grade One. A talented singer, she also plays the piano.
Mary-Ellen suggests that this section could be a day's lesson plan for homeschooling families, or a series of evening or weekend activities for other families.