Monday, January 5, 2015

How Our Family Followed the Example of the Magi

Our family had another meaningful and fun celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord yesterday. It's our second time to celebrate it in our new home but it's our first time to celebrate it with our new baby, our third son. This made it more fun because we now have three boys who remind us of the three kings or three wise men from the East.

We had similar activities as in the previous years but with a couple of modifications. You may read about our previous celebrations here. This was our way of continuing our family tradition every year on the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord and at the same time engage the kids to be involved and to learn about our faith in a fun and memorable way.
Our first activity was reading a book about the shepherds and kings who followed the Star of Bethlehem to see the Newborn King.
I made crowns for our three boys while my husband read them the story. I cut out the colored papers for their crowns then I asked our two older boys to decorate their crowns by tracing circles using a coin and coloring these with crayons. These colored circles will be the precious stones on their crowns.
Our next activity was the making of the Star of Bethlehem. I cut out a bond paper in the shape of a four-point star then I asked my second child to color it with a yellow crayon. At first he was eager to color the cut out but he got tired eventually so I had to help him finishing coloring our star by holding his hand.

This activity was followed by a song teaching activity wherein the boys learned a song about the three kings. I asked my husband to show the boys some videos in You Tube of this song.

While the boys were learning the song and practicing it, I wrapped the gifts that they will give to our new neighbor who became their playmates. 
After lunch and after their bath, I dressed them up and helped them wear their crowns so they can go to our neighbor's house and bring their gift. My husband carried our baby who also wore a crown while the two boys walked carrying their gifts. Once in our neighbor's garage, our eldest sang the song We Three Kings. Then, they gave their gifts to their playmates who are also two brothers. Incidentally, the younger brother was celebrating his 4th birthday also yesterday. We were all very happy to find that out. I felt that we were truly led to bring gifts to them yesterday.

When our eldest son woke up from his nap, I asked him to answer some worksheets about the Feast of the Epiphany which I found in the internet.

On our way to the church to hear Mass, my eldest son also had an interesting observation that he shared with all of us last night. He said that we went to our next door neighbor's house to deliver gifts to them because there's a star hanging on their balcony just like the star on top of the stable in Bethlehem.
I enjoyed listening to the priest's homily last night. It was informative and insightful at the same time. First, he discussed the meaning of the gifts. Then, he encouraged us to follow the example of the Magi who sought the Lord (by following the Star of Bethlehem), brought him gifts (which according to him were actually declarations of faith), adored him and who allowed God to change the course of their lives (symbolized by their decision to take a new way/route going home). He said that like the Magi, we should also seek the Lord. God may use many instruments in leading us to an encounter with Him. These could be people, events or things. He encouraged us to bring gifts to Jesus on Christmas and not just pray that we receive gifts. Of course, our best gift to Jesus is our faith in Him and our lives. Like the Magi who chose to have faith in Jesus as symbolized by the gifts they brought Him, we were exhorted by the priest to look beyond the physical and see God's presence even in the sadness, gloom, lack or pain just like the Magi who saw beyond the darkness, filth and lack of class of the stable. The stable was not even fit for humans, how much more for a king and the King of Kings but the Magi saw beyond all these. And they bowed in adoration before Him who is in the form of a newborn baby. The priest also said that we are called to shine our lights so that after our encounter with Jesus, we'd be able to lead others to Him as well like the Start of Bethlehem. He ended his homily by reminding us that if we have truly encountered God, our lives would be changed and we would walk in a new path, the path of righteousness.

After Mass, we had our photos taken at the church's Nativity Scene, ate dinner and did our annual Epiphany blessing of our house.

My husband blessed our chalk, our house and used the chalk to write on the doors of our house. We also gave our eldest son a chance to help in this activity by writing the blessing on top of two of the doors in our new home. My husband carried him so he can reach the top of the doors. Our second child helped by holding the bottle of Holy Water. We told our younger son that next year when he already knows how to write all the letters of the alphabet and the numbers, he will have a chance to write on top of our doors as well. He wanted to write also. He kept saying that he already knows how to write his name. Cute! We told him that he will not write his name on top of the doors but the blessing. My husband led the prayer and blessing while I prayed aloud the responses to the prayers.

The prayers we recited were from this website.
It was another simple celebration but definitely meaningful because I believe that we did not only encounter Jesus in our celebration but we also brought Jesus to our neighbors.

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