Suitable for Key Stage 1/2 - Church Schools
To learn about the meaning of Epiphany.
Preparation and materials
- Background: The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on 6th January. In Britain its old name is Twelfth Night. It celebrates the time when Jesus was shown to the Gentiles (i.e. everyone), alerting people to the fact that he had come into the world for everyone, not just the Jews. The story can be found in Matthew 2:1-12.
In a previous collective worship or in the classroom, explain the symbolism of the Magi's gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Some ideas for classroom activities may be found in Teaching Christianity at Key Stage 1 by Alison Seaman and Graham Owen, CHP 1999, ISBN 0 715 14912 1.
- You will need:
• 5 children (3 Magi, Herod and a narrator) with appropriate headgear or other costume for the Magi and Herod
• Brightly decorated gold box
• Container for frankincense (decorated cylindrical container e.g. made from a washing-up liquid bottle)
• Container for myrrh (decorated box)
NARRATOR: At this time of the year Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany which is the time that important people came to visit the baby Jesus. They gave him presents. This was the first time that his parents showed the baby Jesus to the world.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem. Soon after this, some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem and asked...
MAGI 1: Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east and we have come to worship him.
NARRATOR: When King Herod heard about this, he was very upset and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and asked them...
HEROD: Where will the Messiah be born?
ALL MAGI: In the town of Bethlehem.
NARRATOR: So Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting and found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions...
HEROD:(sneeringly) Go and look carefully for the child and when you find him let me know, so that I can worship him as well.
NARRATOR: And so they left, and followed the star, and came to the place where Jesus was. They went into the house and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him.
MAGI 1: I have brought Jesus a gift of gold, because Jesus is a King.
MAGI 2: I have brought Jesus a gift of frankincense, because Jesus is a holy person.
MAGI 3: I have brought Jesus a gift of myrrh because cruel men will kill Jesus.
NARRATOR: Then they returned to their country by another road, since God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod.
Today some Christians in other countries give each other their Christmas presents at Epiphany, just as the Magi gave their gifts to Jesus.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to think what would be the best gift they could give to the baby Jesus.
Listen to these words which Christians use at this time of year:
Almighty God, who by the light of a star led the Magi to Jesus:
lead us and all people to you, that we may bring our best gifts for you, and serve you as our King.
For Key Stage 1: 'Kings Came Riding' No.20 in Merrily to Bethlehem
For Key Stage 2: 'March of the Kings' No.21 in Merrily to Bethlehem
The Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach. The first chorus from Part 6 (The Epiphany), evokes the splendour of the arrival of the Magi to see the baby Jesus. A good recording is by the Monteverdi Choir, conducted by John Eliot Gardner, Archive 423 232-2.