The children were gathered in the narthex of the local church. The air was filled with excitement. Something very special was about to occur. Was it Christmas? No. Was it First Communion time? No. It was Epiphany! Epiphany, which comes from the Greek word epiphainen, means “to shine upon; to manifest; and to make known or reveal.” What the children and the entire congregation were about to do would help bring all these definitions to life.
Each child had been given a simple gold or silver star. The children proudly carried the stars high above their heads as they joined in the procession at the beginning of Mass. The smiles, excitement, and stars helped the congregation to recall the star which shone so brightly above a simple manger in Bethlehem. The Epiphany activity could have ended there, but it did not.
At homily time, Father talked about the star. He reminded the congregation that the star played an important role in leading the magi to Jesus. He challenged the people to “be” that star for others. Then he asked the children to look around the assembly and to find people with whom to share their stars. He encouraged each child to reach out to someone that he or she did not know.
Slowly the children moved through the assembly, looking for just the right people on whom to bestow their stars. As the children reached out with their stars, they were rewarded with bright smiles, big hugs, and even a few tears. The Epiphany activity could have ended there, but it did not.
After Communion and before the dismissal, the priest challenged those who had received the stars. Just as he encouraged the children to share the light of the stars with others, he encouraged the recipients to do the same. They were asked to take their stars out into the world and to share the light with others. The Epiphany activity could have ended there. We hoped it did not.
Perhaps you are not able to extend participation in the activity to the entire parish; that is okay. This activity could easily be scaled back to turn it into a classroom activity. The children could take the stars home to pass them on. Or perhaps your class could deliver the stars to children in another class, who are then encouraged to pass the stars on to others.
Epiphany, which is celebrated on January 6, also marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas and the arrival of the magi. We can replicate this journey in our homes or classrooms with the use of a simple Nativity set. Instead of placing the magi within the manger scene, place them farther away. Each day, move them a little closer. On January 6, add them to the Nativity set. Celebrate their arrival.
One way to celebrate is with a “king’s cake.” The “king’s cake” received its name because of the plastic baby Jesus that is carefully hidden in the cake after it is baked and before it is decorated. When the cake is served, whoever receives the piece with the baby Jesus is crowned the king or queen and presides over the celebration.
However you decide to acknowledge the Feast of the Epiphany, make sure that you do something creative and fun. This is your opportunity to “shine upon; to manifest; and to make known or reveal.” A blessed Epiphany to all.
Dr. Beuscher received her Doctor of Education degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Her dissertation was on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Kathleen was involved in parish catechesis for over 30 years within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Kathleen currently serves as a consultant for RCL Benziger, along with her husband, Jim.