How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

I’ve been wanting to do something to celebrate the end of the Christmas season for a few years now and this time we finally pulled it off.  There are a few different approaches you can take for having a party this time of year.  First off you can have a 12th night party which is on (you guessed it!) the twelfth night of Christmas.

You can also do an Epiphany party which is technically the day after the 12th night of Christmas but it seems reasonable to celebrate it any time between the 12th night and the following Sunday. Epiphany in the church is a celebration of Christ’s first revelation to the gentiles in the form of the star appearing to the Three Wise Men.

And then on the off chance that you have some connection with Eastern Europe where they still use the Julian Calendar you can also celebrate what we referred to in my childhood as “Greek Christmas” which is on January 7th as far as I can tell. For our party we didn’t really specify but here are the things we did.

First we did not do dinner.  Let’s face it, a dinner party is a lot of work and a lot of expense. After Christmas we just weren’t up for it. Instead we made a King’s cake. Which is typically a sort of sweet yeast bread rolled with cream cheese filling. I was out of cream cheese and didn’t have time to wait for a cake to rise so I made a simple cinnamon swirl bunt cake and though I didn’t try it everyone said it was good and there were no leftovers.

Don’t forget to hide a baby in the cake! This was a tradition familiar to us after spending many winters in Mexico (did you know that kids in Mexico often get more gifts from The Three Kings on Kings Day than from Santa on Christmas?).  Whoever gets the baby is supposed to make the tamales for the next feast but we didn’t hold anyone to it. A more modern tradition is to hide three babies (you can substitute a large bean, or use a fig like I did, the little plastic babies are hard to find, I know it sounds super weird) and whoever gets a bean gets to wear a crown, one for each king.

Second make Wassail, a hot mulled cider which is the traditional drink for this time of year. We had Brandy to add to ours and then hot chocolate, not to add, just for another option.

Third  make Magi crowns.  I found the most basic crown pattern on the internet, print it, cut it out (two at a time, it went fast) stapled two together, spray painted them gold and voila. I picked up some jewel stickers at the dollar store and the kids used them to decorate their crowns. This was a great souvenir, kept the kids surprisingly engaged, and no one got injured with the stapler.

How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

Fourth make Magi gifts.  We sent the kids home with three versions of DIY Play-dough mixed with glitter for gold and the others fragranced with frankincense and myrrh essential oils (actually I didn’t have mhyrr so I used Ylang-Ylang and Lavender, no one knew the difference).

How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

One more add on which was an unexpected treat that my husband whipped up was a lively family sing along of the first verse of “Here we go a-wassailing” which apparently is a song about poor folks going door to door drinking warm beer, and the “12 Days of Christmas” which was a hit with the kids.

Life has been hard for many of my friends and family this holiday season.  And for some who have had a recent loss Christmas felt like a very low place.  Gathering for ongoing celebrations is an important part of living and grieving  and healing together. This party took us about half a day’s work to pull together and the memories of time spent together finding babies in cakes is totally worth it. So here is to the 12th Night and Epiphany and Greek Christmas and hoping that in 2017 we will always be able to find something to celebrate.

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

An Introduction to the Nativity Tradition of Las Posadas

I’ll be the first to admit I have no business writing this post. I have only attended two Posadas in my life. A Posada is traditionally done in Catholic and Hispanic communities and I am significantly involved in neither.  So if you already know anything about this tradition I encourage you to seek out a wiser source. But for those of you that have never heard of this beautiful tradition I hope I can offer a decent introduction and motivate you to learn more and to consider participating in one next year.

La Posada means “the inn”.  La Posada or Las Posadas (the inns) is an activity typically done in the week or so before Christmas. Churches do them but so do neighborhoods or family groups.  The one we attended this year was at La Posada Providencia an immigrant shelter, so yes it was a Posada at an actual Posada.  La Posada is a sort of theatrical procession where a group follows Mary and Joseph as they go door to door in Bethlehem looking for a place to stay.  They are met by several rejections before finally being welcomed into the last house. Mary and Joseph take the seat of honor and everyone has a party.  There is an official song which everyone has a copy of that is sung back and forth between those in the procession and those waiting inside of each building.

An Introduction to the Nativity Tradition of Las Posadas

 

An Introduction to the Nativity Tradition of Las Posadas

Depending on how far you are walking you may sing a few traditional Christmas carols intermixed with the traditional song. We ended ours with a party and a special time of prayer for immigrants and refugees around the world who are living out the quest for Posada everyday.  It was especially moving to go through this production with our group of immigrants several who are well known to us by now and with a Mary and Joseph who have come from opposite corners of Africa seeking the hospitality of strangers in the US. There was the shedding of tears of grief and of joy especially by those from central America for whom the tradition of La Posada was a familiar homecoming.

An Introduction to the Nativity Tradition of Las Posadas

 

An Introduction to the Nativity Tradition of Las Posadas

La Posada is a beautiful way to focus the celebrations of Christmas on the incarnation of Christ, to learn hospitality and to become mindful of those in our midst who are seeking shelter. I highly recommend you make this part of your Christmas traditions.  For a simple kid’s book about La Posada check out Tomie de Paula’s The Night of Las Posadas.

If you are looking for a Posada to participate in consider checking in with a Catholic Church that has a Spanish service or congregation.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

 

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God with Us Even in Our Mess

God with Us (even when we are a mess)

 

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us)”.

Mathew 1: 23

 

God with us.

God incarnate. A  God- baby living and growing right here on the dirt of the earth.

All of Christendom stands on this reality. Most of the time I don’t stop to let these words sink into my soul. Mostly I try to put the incarnation into a box that has more appeal.  In a breath I move from God with us, to us with God. It’s a subtle switch but a far more  alluring concept.

I desperately want salvation to mean being whisked up to heaven to float around on clouds playing harps with angels. I want  an escape or at least a world where there is no infertility, no miscarriage, no sudden death, no Aleppo. And I want to be angry with God for not making it the way that I think is best.

But Mathew insists on, God with us. He starts his book out with a painfully tedious genealogy (which I usually skip over if I ever come across it) towards this point.

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, etc. etc. etc.

This year I’ve been reading the Bible stories with my daughter, so some of these names are starting to feel more familiar than ever, some because we read them, others because I carefully edit them out.

Characters like Rahab the prostitute are difficult to explain to a four year old. Then there is Tamar, twice widowed and so desperate for a child that she dresses as a prostitute and seduces her father-in-law (who is the kind of guy apparently that frequents prostitutes).  Then the famous King David who takes Bathsheba to bed and when she gets pregnant has her husband  Uriah killed in battle to cover up his offense.

There are good stories too, stories like Ruth, a foreigner brought in and made part of a new people. But none of the stories are simple, few of them are what we would look at today and call “christian”. They are stories of a messy people, of real failures, of genuine pain and this list of names is recorded here so we don’t forget it when we come to this next passage,

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 

An unmarried  pregnant teen who swears she is still a virgin. Her fiance  deciding whether to call it off quietly or have her publicly stoned (which would have been a reasonable option back then).

God with us. God enters into a  mess that has been growing for generations. He does not rescue us out. He  gives us His Spirit. And in the face of our deepest darkness and our ugliest failures He gives us light.  He so transforms the world that in the simple act of loving another person we see His face and hope begins growing out of every broken place.

This year has left me lonely, I long for more children, for the growth of a church, for a deep sense of community. Still compared to many my griefs have been small. I have stood alongside of friends who have watching their children and parents and grandparents cross over to death. I have seen bodies that I love wrecked with illness.  And I have grown ever more aware of the fragility of the world as I’ve heard the stories of immigrants  fleeing violence, traveling by foot through central America to reach our border.  I want it to be “Us with God,” I want to escape this pain.  All I can do is pray, “Come Lord Jesus.”  And He has come, and is to come and will come again, Immanuel, not us with God, but God with us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Seven Quick Takes: Our Thanksgiving

Linking up with some other 7 Quick Takes today.

Thanksgiving threw me this year.  When we left my daughter’s Thanksgiving play and headed east for the holiday I was a wreck.  My mind was churning trying to reconcile the true story of Thanksgiving and the ongoing issues of racial injustice in our country with the family celebration that was to come.

It was to my good fortune that I had a 15 hour car ride to think (well I actually slept for most of it but I manged to stay awake through most of Alabama). I wrote this and finally at midnight on Thanksgiving eve I was ready to for my feast.  Holidays are like that, they stir up all the gloom and sorrow and force us to plunge into it and if we are willing we find that we can still celebrate in a way that mysteriously transcends the suffering of our every day life.

Here is a quick rundown of a few of our favorite moments and of the things for which I am most grateful.

  1. Old friends: We stopped by  Roswell, GA and made a quick visit with some of our dearest friends. We first met when we were both newlywed working in Piedras Negras, Mexico. There is something satisfying about seeing our own kid make friends with the children of those who are dear to us.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

2.  Food. We had a bit of a mishap with the turkey, the roasting pan from the Dollar Tree didn’t hold up (should we be surprised here?) all of the fat and broth drained through the bottom of the pan, through the oven and onto the floor. Luckily I was still in bed and Michael cleaned it up.  And no worries my mother-in-law is a wonder-worker and the the turkey came out just fine.

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3.  This Family. Posed for the obligatory holiday photo.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

4.  Fall Color: While we don’t get much of an Autumn in South Texas a week in the Georgia Hills satisfied our longing for crimson hues. This is the Riverwalk in Columbus, GA along the Chattahoochee.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

5.  Barbecue. Georgia style, complete with a bluegrass band. This is the best, we never let a visit go by without a visit to the famous Country’s and this girl always cleans her plate.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

6.  Decorating.  One perk of traveling for Thanksgiving is that you get a little taste of Christmas at the same time.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

 

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

7. Amazing places.

 

This is just about the best playground I have ever seen, the kids become spiders climbing up in a giant web.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

Stopping with the grandparents for seafood on Mobile Bay after an hour long boat ride.  We got caught in a rain storm on the way back which, while though miserably cold, only served to make it a more  memorable adventure.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

 

Our drive home included a stop at the Boudin Shop. Can I just say I love Louisiana and all things Cajun (as long as it isn’t too spicy for this Ohio girl). Z loved the glazed alligator heads.

Seven Quick Takes, Thanksgiving. Liturgy of Life

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And now we are grateful to be home even if our suitcases don’t get unpacked until after Christmas (which is seeming more and more likely everyday).

Hope you had a great one too. I’d love to here about it.

 

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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