Before the service choose eight people sitting in different places in the congregation to take part. Pin four silver stars on four of the people and give each of those four a piece of paper with the words ‘FIND A GOLD STAR’ to put in their pockets. Pin four gold stars discreetly on the other four people and give each these people four pieces of paper each one with one of the letters of the word LOVE to put in their pockets.
Epiphany comes 12 days after Christmas (Twelfth Night). The story is told in Matthew 2 of the arrival of the Magi (sometimes called magicians, astrologers, learned men or wise men but not kings) who came from the ‘East’ to visit Jesus and his family in Bethlehem some while after he was born, almost certainly not when he was newly born. Jesus is called a ‘young child’ and the magi came to his house, not a stable. We know they came via Herod and returned by ‘another way’. We do not know that there were three of them but we do know that they brought three gifts with them of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The wise men came to show us something that was not yet seen. They came to ‘show’ us, to ‘reveal something’ to us. We often see something but do not really see it.
We are going on an epiphany journey today. Those who set off on this journey do not know where it will lead. They do not know what they will find at the end of the journey. They will stop on the way and ask people for help. But they are going to trust that at the end they, and we, will have an epiphany! Something will be revealed to them and us. We will see something differently.
Ask four children in the church to be ‘travellers’ and to walk around the church to find the four people who have silver stars stuck on their clothes (because the journeying wise men were led by a star). When they have found four people with silver stars they ask them if they have anything in their pockets to help them in their journey. The four people will give each of the travellers the piece of paper with the words ‘FIND A GOLD STAR’. The travellers then search for the four people who have gold stars pinned on their clothes (the stars are continuing to lead them on). The travellers will then ask the people with gold stars on their clothes if they have anything in their pockets that might help them to reach the end of their journey. The travellers will each be given another piece of paper with one of these letters on: VLEO. The letters are taken to the front of the church and the travellers have to work out what word the four letters make. And then there is an epiphany moment because what our ‘wise men’ travellers have found is the word LOVE... and that is another word for God.
So our wise ‘travellers’ have led us and shown us the way to love, just as those wise men did long ago when they found Jesus in a manger. Emmanuel, God with us. And God is LOVE.