By Meg Schwarz, Assistant for Christian Formation
I’m sure that many of us could easily take a step back from our lives and view them through seasonal lenses, as distinct periods of time marked by certain features and situations. With this perspective in mind, we could all identify personal seasons of self-discovery, wandering, fulfillment, loss. As with many earthly experiences, our individual seasons continually ebb and flow, complementing each other and resulting in each other, sometimes with good reason and sometimes with no reason whatsoever. It’s fair to say that our lives are a series of seasons.
Similarly, the church operates on a seasonal calendar. Much like the seasons of our lives, the seasons of the church year function with and for each other. Without the season of Advent, we would not be properly prepared for the joyous birth of Christmas; without the loss of Lent, we would not be able to fully appreciate the restoration of perpetual life in Christ on Easter. These seasons cannot exist without each other, and yet we do not seem to fully understand every season of the church calendar. We are sure of Advent calendars, Christmas traditions, Lenten deprivations and Easter celebrations, but what of the time in-between?
Defined as a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way, Epiphany is the “Church’s response to God’s Christmas.” Christ has already been born, but it is with the visit of the Magi that He is first manifest to mankind. This manifestation lies at the heart of Epiphany and points to the growth of God within us following his birth as man at Christmas- thus the color green. Thematically, Epiphany centers on the celebration of baptism and explores specifically the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.
So how do we bring Epiphany into our churches and homes in a meaningful way? Epiphany may not be nearly as straightforward as some of the other liturgical seasons, but there are certainly some activities and conversations you can do and have with your children or youth group to make this important time of year more profound for them and for you. Below we have included some resources that may be helpful in speaking about, explaining and preparing for Epiphany. We hope you will take a look at them and consider working them into your plans for Epiphany this year!
- Sharon Ely Pearson, a respected and seasoned Christian educator, shares a brief overview of the Epiphany season and why it is important here. Be sure to check this out if you are interested in a King’s Cake recipe or a Feast of Lights ceremony.
- Building Faith is a great blog for Christian educators and parishes who are looking to enhance their formation offerings. With the Epiphany tradition of Chalking the Door, Building Faith shares a wonderful way to mark this time of year with an intergenerational activity. The liturgy for this activity is included- and don’t pass up on all of the other resources offered by Building Faith!
- Sybil MacBeth, well known and much-loved for Praying in Color, has recently published a book to offer support to individuals and groups in their faith journey through Advent, Christmas and Epiphany: The Season of the Nativity. This highly recommended text includes activities, reflections and information for all three seasons in a way that is interactive and interesting to people of all ages. Make sure you read this book soon “to enjoy this season in a way that has more peace and more Christ and less chaos and guilt.”