Faith by calendar
Christmas is familiar. Maybe too familiar. We live in a culture that has twisted Christian practices. We live in a cult of acquisition (masked as giving) and consumption (masked as celebration). There is even an examination of ethical integrity, minus the confession and contrition, asked by an overweight bearded imaginary super freak who has blanket permission to enter childrens’ bedrooms around the world on the premise they have passed a goodness test.
Our forebears’ calendars and kitchens used to be full of markers that traced our faith across the year. This series on “Faith by Calendar” seeks to uncover some old practices and also invent some new ones.
Epiphany is ripe for exploring, especially as families. It is the day after the twelfth day of Christmas and marks the arrival of the Magi to the Christ child.
Fifteen years ago I received an Epiphany box from a friend. I had never heard of one before so maybe he made it up. For the next ten years or so while our three sons were growing up the box would sit under the Christmas tree and be the last ‘surprise’ to be opened. On or around Epiphany we would eat well, share gifts again (usually intended for the boys spiritual growth) and pull each item from the box, telling associated stories as we did so.
It was only later that I become familiar with the Godly Play practice of boxes with objects for telling stories. The Epiphany Box included:
· A small nativity set
· The story of the Magi (Matthew 2)
· Frankinsense and a burner
· A bag of ‘gold’ coins
· Epiphany prayer
· A cross
· Portions of John’s Prologue
· Stories (all kinds of tales about life and transformation)
· The boys baptism candles
· Three questions:
What are you afraid of?
What brings you most joy?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
As we slowly rework this practice into a celebration for adults post-Christmas, the objects have simplified to: a wooden Magi, a tale chosen by someone in the family and three new questions: What do you seek?; What gifts do you bring? Who is your neighbour?