Our Epiphany celebration at ECLC's Bonfire service (OK, 11th day of Christmas. . .but we had to do it on Wendesday) was a blast! Fifty people, including at least a dozen royalty, showed up to journey with the Magi to the Christ Child.
One of the things that always amazes me when you engage children in this kind of interactive worship is how readily they offer their theological perspectives and answers. Some of my favorites from Wednesday:
At the end of dinner we passed out king's cake, with the forewarning that some surprises lay therein to remind us of the occasion. I confess, I struggled a bit with this, largely because I did not have the energy to bake my own cake that day (I have since been diagnosed with pneumonia, but that's another story). If this were France or Italy, one might find a small baby Jesus (too hard to find), a coin (too chokeable) or a dried bean (too likely to crack a tooth). Not wanting to put in anything potentially toxic, I went for small wax birthday candles in a couple slices, simply slid in from underneath.
After all had partaken I asked who had found surprises, and "why would there be a little candle in your cake?" I was just thinking Jesus' birthday here, but Paavo burst out with confidence, " Because Jesus is the light of our lives!!" Amen.
Later we went downstairs to write our hopes and dreams for the new year on pieces of paper. Trying to prepare the children for the act of burning them in our mini-bonfire, Dawn explained that burning things was an ancient way of sending ones prayers up to God. This message seemed fairly well accepted at the time (my daughter LOVED this idea). . .but more on that later.
Then we proceeded to gather up our "gifts for the baby Jesus," namely items for Lutheran World Relief Health kits that had been collected. The kids were invited to take an item as we journeyed to the manger and give it to baby Jesus. One boy almost immediately had trouble with this idea. He came to me nearly in tears, holding up his toothbrush.
"How are we supposed to give these to Jesus? We can't even SEE Jesus!"
I think this boy was bright enough to accept my fumbling explanation about "giving to the least of these."
Finally we did make it to the fire, and the manger. Toothbrushes and soap and towels were piled on top of the baby Jesus, and prayers were thrown into the fire. One three-year-old was NOT happy about the fire plan though. Why?
She wanted to give her prayer to Jesus, of course.