Sunday, 6 January 2013

on epiphany for children

To be read aloud, sitting around the crib. Encourage children to join in with the refrain:

Today some new visitors are going to arrive at the crib scene in Bethlehem. But before we meet them let us remind ourselves about who is already here. 

Right at the centre of the scene is the baby Jesus. He is very small, and very beautiful. Anyone who has had a baby in the family will know how the faces of visitors light up with joy. And this special baby brings particular joy. He loves everyone back. And that is something to make us all very happy.

Next to Jesus is Mary. She is the next most important person here. Mary is centre stage. And that is amazing because some people think that men are more important than women. But in Jesus’ story, women have a very special place. Jesus loves them just as much as he does men, because Jesus loves everybody.

Next to Mary is Joseph. He is a hard-working craftsman, a carpenter, with rough hands and splinters of wood in his beard. He is not very rich, but he and Mary get by because there is always work for him to do. Jesus welcomes all our skills, whether we are in work or not, because Jesus loves everybody.

Standing around the stable are the shepherds.  They are very happy to see Jesus, even although they are very poor. They are on minimum wage, and their lives can be very hard sometimes. Jesus really loves poor people, because Jesus loves everybody.

Some of the shepherds are married and have children of their own. But this one here doesn’t have a wife. He doesn’t mind that, because he doesn’t really want to get married. He has a special friend that he really likes and feels very close to. And that’s okay too, because Jesus loves everybody.

And now some visitors are arriving - some wise men from the East. Their names are Peregrine, Tarquin and Quentin, because they are very posh. But that’s okay, because Jesus loves everybody.

They are also very very rich. Sometimes it is hard for rich people to love Jesus because they love their money more than him, and worry a lot about losing it. But not these three. They are very generous and bring wonderful and lavish gifts to give to the baby Jesus. Who loves them back, not because they are rich, but because Jesus loves everybody.

Joseph notices that the visitors’ have skin that is a different colour from his own. You don’t see many people who look like that in Bethlehem, he thinks. But skin colour doesn’t matter to Jesus. Why? Because Jesus loves everybody.

The wise men are very clever. They’ve studied hard and read lots of books, and have diplomas in this and doctorates in that. They might be tempted to feel very pleased with themselves. But they come and kneel humbly before the baby Jesus. They are wise because they know that one day, when he grows up, Jesus will have lots to teach them. And, of course, Jesus loves clever people just as much as those who find school hard. Because Jesus loves everybody.

Today is Epiphany, when we remember that God’s love is shown to us in Jesus. And all the people that come to see Jesus, young and old, rich and poor, men and women, ordinary and extraordinary, and with all their other differences, remind us that Jesus wants all of us to be his friend because Jesus loves everybody.