Sunday, January 6, 2013

Godly Play: Epiphany + Link-Up

Epiphany has become a special day for me. I didn't grow up celebrating it, and actually didn't know what it was until I was an adult. It is a wonderful way to bring closure to the 12 Days of Christmas (although many churches celebrate one week longer, see Catholic Icing's post on this), and celebrate the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah to the whole world.

Materials from the Godly Play Epiphany story
The word "Epiphany" comes from the Greek and means "manifestation" or "appearance". While Eastern churches focus on the baptism of Jesus at Epiphany, Western churches bring attention to the visit of the Magi to child Jesus. Both stories point to God's physical manifestation in Jesus, but in the Magi story we also remember that Jesus was revealed to the Gentiles as well.

Our project did not hold services this week, so I planned a special family service for our kids. Early this morning, the kids and I got up to bake a "La Galette des Rois", a French King's Cake made of puff pastry and filled with frangipane. We used this easy recipe here and added vanilla and lemon zest to it.

Before baking . . . We used a cookie cutter
to make a star in the center.
A "bean" or small figure is traditionally placed inside the cake and whoever gets that piece is "king" for a day. (The Louisiana Mardi Gras cake developed from this tradition.) We placed a plastic Wise Man inside ours. Since it was made of plastic, I wrapped it in tin foil to hopefully avoid any toxins leaking into the cake!

Brushing egg yolk onto the puff pastry.

A golden brown delight!
Later that morning, I told the Godly Play Epiphany story during our family service. This story recaps the journey to Bethlehem in the Advent story and then focuses attention on the three gifts that the Magi brought. Since I was not able to acquire frankincense and myrrh this year, I printed out pictures on the internet and pasted them on gold card stock so that the children could actually see what they look like. (You can the images them here: gold, frankincense and myrrh.)

The whole story laid out.
Cards for gold, frankincense,
and myrrh.
This story does not have any official Wondering, but I felt that my children needed something to help them ponder the gifts more. So I added the following questions:

I wonder which gift is your favorite?

I wonder which gift you think is the most important?

What gift would you give to the child Jesus?

This turned out to be one of the most fun Wondering times that I have ever had with my own kids. Between the second and third question, one of the kids wondered aloud what the gifts might have been for. My son thought that there might be some connection between three gifts and the three members of the Trinity. He went on to say that gold could be for the Father, because gold is a gift for kings; that myrrh could be for Jesus, since it was used for funerals and Jesus would die someday; and that frankincense was like the Holy Spirit, because it was used in worship and released a smell that was unseen. I think he might have been drawing a connection there with the Baptism story, because in it we speak of the Holy  Spirit as being "invisible like the scent of oil". 

My daughter, who usually does more silent wondering when it's just the four of us, was quite talkative today. She wondered aloud about the myrrh and went to the bookshelf, where she pulled out a book with the story of Jesus being anointed by the woman in Simon's house. She pointed to the nard and wanted to know if it was like myrrh. Also, when asked what she would give the child Jesus as a present, she said, "I would draw him a picture of me, so that he could see me all the time.": )

And then we came the Feast, which everyone was particularly excited about because of the King Cake. I reminded the kids of the tradition that the person who finds the plastic king in their cake is King for a day. I was met with replies like, "Yeah, I want to get it so I can order Dad around!" I suggested that maybe we should think about being a king like Jesus was king and that started some more wondering. As it turns out, no one got a piece with the king in it, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow (when we have room for some more cake) to see who will be King for a day . . . 

One piece is enough as this cake is quite filling!
Linked to Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now

and Eco-Kids Tuesdays at Like Mama-Like Daughter and Organic Aspirations

and Waldorf Wednesday at Seasons of Joy

And now for last Exploring Christmas Link-Up! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your wonderful ideas. If you are joining us for the first time today, maybe you will find some ideas for next year.

If you participate, please link back to Explore and Express. Feel free to grab the button below or in the side bar. 

By participating in the link party, you give me permission to share your photos in future highlights.

Please do not link giveaways or advertisements for commercial items. Thanks!


  1. Beautiful!!

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Beautiful! And your son's thoughts about how the gifts might relate to the Trinity--WOW! Thanks for sahring this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday!

  3. I am Floored by your son's ideas of the 3 gifts. Seriously. Seriously.

    I am going to have to look into "epiphany" to find out more about what this means (:

    I really like the idea of having another Christmas related "conclusory" activity, for lack of a sweeter term, a bit after the (seemingly inevitable) rush at the end of Christmas preparation.

    I'm glad you're "back" and I'm really looking forward to your posts about the training. The first one was very thought provoking. (And, for this reason, I'm glad you're planning on short posts (;

    Welcome home xo


    1. Thank you for the encouragement! It must be one of your gifts! I'm "back", but this week has been so busy that I haven't posted anything else. Hopefully, this week will be better.

  4. I always love reading about your Epiphany activities ... so very special! Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I added your post link to my post about Celebrating Epiphany at

  5. That looks yummy!

    Thank you so much for linking up to Waldorf Wednesday. Hope to see you back soon!