What is Epiphany?
Epiphany is the day that the Church remembers the coming of the Wise Men (or Magi) who came to worship Jesus. This true account of the Wise Men's visit is in Matthew 2:1–12. Historically, the Church has celebrated this day on January 6.
The word Epiphany actually means "to manifest" or "to reveal" something that had once been hidden. It's kind of like the moment when you tear back all the wrapping paper on a gift to reveal your favorite present inside. Of course, the Wise Men didn't tear back any wrapping paper around Jesus. Instead their visit, guided by the star, revealed who Jesus really is—true God and true King of all creation!
Why is the Epiphany story important for us?
When teaching kids about Epiphany, it's important to remember both the what and the why. For many children (and adults too), the events in the story of the coming of the Wise Men are very memorable. We love to think about the star in the sky, the journey from afar, and the gifts brought by the Magi. This event has even been brought into the norm of society through popular songs like "We Three Kings."
However, what separates our Epiphany celebration as Christians is that we know why this story is so important! It's more than a fantastical story or a fairy tale; it's God's true Word that tells us about what Jesus has done for us!
Here are two key points to remember when sharing the Epiphany story with kids:
Jesus is our King, who saves us.
Do you remember the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus? Their gifts had special meanings that tell us more about who Jesus is! The gift of gold reminds us that Jesus is our king. The gift of frankincense reminds us that Jesus is true God! He hears and answers all of our prayers. The gift of myrrh reminds us that Jesus suffered, died, and was buried for us. But we know that the story doesn't end there. He rose again on Easter because He is God and He now reigns as King for all eternity.
Jesus came for all people.
Think about how far away these Wise Men traveled. We don't know for sure, but some people estimated it may have taken them two years to find Jesus! They must have been a long way from Bethlehem! Throughout time, churches have used the day of Epiphany as a reminder that Jesus came for all people, not just the Jewish people, not just people in a certain city or state, not just people of a certain skin color or ethnicity. Jesus came for everyone, and that's good news worth sharing!
What are some teaching tools that share the message of Epiphany?
For families who like to read, we recommend starting out with a book like Star of Wonder or The Visit of the Wise Men. Consider forming family rituals around Epiphany that are separate from Christmas. Wait to put the Wise Men in your nativity scene until January 6 or consider saving a special present to open on that day.
There are also a number of ways that churches and church workers can help teach kids about Epiphany. Some churches add a special star to the sanctuary during the Epiphany season to serve as a visual reminder of the season. If you're looking to talk more about Epiphany in Sunday School, Church Year Connections has object lessons and songs. You may also want to search for free coloring pages online, like this one to use during Sunday School or at a children's ministry event.
Looking for even more Epiphany resources? Watch this short video and share with your church!