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This page last updated 31 May 2014  

Epiphany resources

HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES AND TRADITIONS we were told about by readers of Anglicans Online. You might like to consider some for your parish. Have an Epiphany custom or tradition you don't see mentioned here? Let us know about it.

From Australia

Picking up on the connection of Epiphany with the Baptism of Our Lord we always eat lots of seafood at our Epiphany parties. If we hold the party where there is a swimming pool, we have swimming contests culminating in the traditional Greek contest of the Recovery of the Cross.
The senior ecclesiastic present throws a cross into the pool and the contestants all go in to see who can retrieve it and return it to me first. For older groups the cross is of metal and sinks to the bottom, necessitating a dive to recover it. For the younger groups of contestants it is wooden and floats so they only have to swim down the pool after it. Winners are crowned and treated like kings. I should mention that we also bless the water, pray for all who make their livings from the waters and thank God for our baptism. (It occurs to me that it would be difficult to do all of this in places where outdoor water is frozen at this time of the year!)

From Canada

The wonderful Worship and Spirituality web site of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada offers a multitude of resources and stories.

The Domestic Church, a Canadian RC publication, has a rich collection of Epiphany resources.

From Canada and the USA

Anglican-Lutheran Canadian American Epiphany Devotions. '"We commend to your use an inspired collection of devotions for the season of Epiphany, each prepared by a different member of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee (USA) and the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission (Canada)," the denominational leaders stated in a joint letter.'

From the USA

Epiphany resources page at has links to many on-Line Resources for the Feast/Season of Epiphany.

  • About an hour ago I celebrated the second annual 'placing of three cards' on our front sidewalk.
         On the front of the card: A picture of the Magi and 'To you who pass by our house: Please take one—just one'. There's a quarter taped on each card and each is sealed in its own clear zip-locking small plastic bag.
         Inside the card: 'There's an old Pennsylvania Dutch custom that on the eve of the new year, three silver coins are placed outside the house where the Magi can find them and cast their blessings as they travel toward Bethlehem seeking the Babe. The blessings of the Magi are peace, love, and health to all who live therein. Please take one of the quarters. It's unlikely that the magi will be coming through Winston-Salem on their way to Bethlehem, and maybe you can spread the blessings of peace, love and health in your life, at home or work or wherever. And by your taking the coin, the Magi will leave their blessing at our house, too'.
         I just peeked out the front door. They're all three still there. That's the way it was last year, but when I got up (customarily late) on New Year's morning, one was gone, and by the time I had fixed us a celebratory breakfast and eaten it, the other two had gone. The blessing of the Magi had been spread abroad.
  • My parish, the Episcopal Church of St John the Evangelist in San Francisco, celebrates Twelfth Night with a parish party. A coin is placed in a cake (and yes, people are warned to be careful when eating their cake), and the finder of the coin is crowned the King or Queen of the parish for the year. This entails a mock coronation with a cheap plastic crown, and pictures of the event are posted on the bulletin board for the amusement of all. The event has nothing at all to do with the liturgical meaning of the day, but it is great fun.
  • St John's in Columbia, South Carolina, has celebrated 'Feast of Lights' since the 1950s. It opens without fanfare: one man in the pulpit and another in the back of the church, singing back and forth to one another 'Watchman, tell us of the night'. The first half of the pageant continues with the Annunciation through the ministry of John the Baptist. Of course, the Three Kings process with pages, each singing a verse of their hymn. Each scene emphasizes that Jesus was manifest, shown to each character in some special way. The first half closes with an interesting offertory, during which everyone in the church gets up, drops money into one of the Three Kings' pages' basins, and then files past the baby and parents playing the Holy Family. It's kind of fun; you think you're really looking at baby Jesus for a moment, until you recognize him under all that swaddling clothes business. The fun part for me, though, IS the recognition that HE is always among us, in each face. Okay, so that's very cool.
         The second half of the pageant traces Pentecost through modern day. I find it very moving to see contemporary librarians, lawyers, contractors, and office managers lining up next to the apostles, saying in essence, 'He came for me, too'.
         There's a ton of congregational singing (no Eucharist, which I think is odd), and we file out with candles to sing 'Joy to the World' in the courtyard. A reception follows, where King Cakes have been baked. Certain items are baked into them. Whoever gets the dime must invest it towards next year's celebration. (This year's 'investor' brought back over $150.) Others find items in their slices which designate them as hosts of the next year's reception, etc. We think a rector brought the text and traditions here with him from somewhere else. God forbid we should change anything, but it does get added to now and then, apparently.
  • Since Epiphany is the time for gifts, the Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches in Stevenson, Washington are going to do the following: Each person picks a colored ribbon bow upon entering the church. At the Offertory, each person reflects on what gift they bring to the Lord in 1998 or what they will do in the new year. They then will either place the ribbon in the collection plate or bring it up to the crèche and place it before the crib.
  • At St Christopher's, Rantoul, Illinois we have an Epiphany party every year, after mass and a pot-luck dinner. We have an Epiphany cake with three wooden stars in it. The three people who get the stars are the Kings for the night. We then seat everyone in a big circle of chairs and play 'pass the parcel'. A gift is wrapped many times, and as music is played, the gift is passed. When the music stops the person has to unwrap, read, and do what a note says. The last person to unwrap gets the gift and takes the lead in a slow dance. By the end of the night every one is dancing ... We have a great time.
  • At St John the Evangelist, Stockton, California, we always have a Solemn Mass on the evening of Epiphany. The homily is geared toward children. Afterward, we have an 'ethnic' supper (Filipino this year, previously Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Cajun-Creole, BBQ) in token of the manifestation of Christ to 'all nations'. Many years, there is the traditional Sunday School pageant following the dinner.

The Epiphany Blessing of a Home (From a reader in Ohio, USA. This service assumes a leader in Holy Orders.)

(The electric lights are dimmed in the room where the opening section of the service is to be celebrated. All the domestic supply of candles have been lit and arranged on a table, around which we stand.)

All: + In the Name of God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen!

Leader: Peace be to this house!

All: And to all who enter it in this jubilee year of God's favor and grace!

Leader: The Wise Ones came from the East to worship the Lord Jesus.

All: And falling at his feet and beholding the radiance of his glory, the glory he had with the Father before the world began, they gave him precious gifts of mystic meaning.

Leader: They presented him with gold because he is the world's only true King, the one merciful Lord worthy of our gifts, our service and our vows! They blessed him with incense that sweet-smelling smoke might evermore rise up from our altars to the Throne of his majesty, worshipping and blessing and magnifying him, the one, true God! They offered him myrrh because it would soon anoint his immaculate body, preparing it for his burial.

[Read the Scripture for this liturgy.]

All: Our Father, who art in heaven....

Leader: Gracious God, you revealed your Son to the nations by the brilliant Star of Bethlehem! O Uncreated Light, Morning-Star of Epiphany and the world's New Dawn, lead us, warm our hearts, fortify our wills, enkindle our devotion to you, enlighten and illumine our inward vision! Lead us, guide us all the days of our earthly pilgrimage until we are received into your glory. We implore your great mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord!

All: Amen

[With chalk, the leader makes this inscription on the lintel: 20+C+M+B+01. The letters stand for the Magi Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar and
the numbers are for the year of our Lord.]

Leader: Eternal God, + bless this home. + Sanctify this water to be a sign of our baptism, a token of our consecration to Christ's service. May this water + made holy on this Day by the baptism of Christ + drive far from this house and all who enter it all snares and assaults of the enemy. Wherever this water is sprinkled may safety be guarded and hospitality be made manifest. Grant that faith, charity, and good health triumph over evil in this house. May your Word always be cherished and obeyed here. We give praise and thanksgiving to you, and to your Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen

[The leader blesses him/herself with the Epiphany water and then all who are present. Exchange the sign of peace. All move through the other rooms of the house, sprinkling the rooms, blessing God, and singing.]


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