What Is a Gift?

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What Is a Gift?

An Epiphany Celebration


This resource is designed to help groups celebrate Epiphany, January 6th. It can be used during a worship service or other special event.

Traditionally, the feast of Epiphany signified the close of the Christmas season. Many countries save their high feasting and gift-giving for Epiphany. By saving our gift-giving for January 6th, we might better focus our Advent and Christmas celebrations on the birth of Christ. Sometime before Epiphany, perhaps Saint Nicholas Day, you might encourage those in the congregation to bring a gift for a needy person (in example: baby booties, warm gloves, food) to your Epiphany celebration.

In addition to choosing a leader and a person to read the story of Baboushka, you will need to choose three kings to play the parts of Caspar, Melchoir and Balthasar. One way to choose the kings is to bake three kings' cakes. Before baking the cake batter, place one dried lima bean in each cake. (Or you may place three beans in a single cake.) Serve the cakes during church school classes or a special meal sometime before Epiphany. (You may want to break the group into three age levels so that people of all ages can take part in the presentation.) The three people who find a bean in their piece of cake are then crowned Caspar, Melchoir and Balthasar.

The classes or group can then make crowns for their kings. You could also design costumes if you wish. Encourage each king to become familiar with her/his lines before the scheduled presentation. When the date for your Epiphany celebration arrives, hang a star at the front of the room or choose a person to carry a star suspended on a pole who would lead the three kings down the aisle.

v  v  v

LEADER: Does anyone know what special day is coming up? This (day of week) is January 6th, the celebration of Epiphany. On Epiphany we remember the three kings who traveled from faraway places to visit the Christ Child. Matthew told us the story:

When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts - gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11)

[Three kings appear from back.]

MELCHIOR: Do you suppose this is the way?

CASPAR: I think we must be lost.

LEADER: It looks like we have some visitors. And who are you?

CASPAR: My name is Caspar, King of Tarsus.

MELCHIOR: I'm Melchoir, King of Arabia.

BALTHASAR: And I'm Balthasar, King of Sheba.

LEADER: Why, you're the three kings. We have heard a lot about you. In fact, we sing a song about you.

[The leader encourages the congregation to sing along as the musician plays We Three Kings . The three kings proceed to the front.]

BALTHASAR: We bring gifts for the child. Do you know where he is?

LEADER: Matthew says you follow the star. But what gifts do you bring?

CASPAR: I bring gold which stands for tribute. I come to pay tribute to the King.

MELCHIOR: I bring frankincense, for I come to worship God.

BALTHASAR: And I bring myrrh, a precious substance used in burial.

LEADER: Yes, we've heard of your gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh. [To audience] What kind of gifts might we bring Jesus today? In Matthew 25, Jesus insists that in order to give to him, we must find him in the hungry, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.

CASPAR: Baboushka teaches us about giving too. Do you remember when we visited Baboushka?

BALTHASAR: Yes, and the shepherds visited her also.

MELCHIOR: Does anyone know the story of Baboushka?

READER: I do. Both the shepherds and the three kings visited Baboushka on their way to pay homage to the Christ Child. But she was too busy to go along. Listen:


A Story From Russia *

The fire crackled. The wind roared. There was a sudden knocking on the door.

"Who's there? Who's there?" cackled Baboushka from her rocking chair.

"We are shepherds from the hills come to tell the happy news."

"What is it? What is it before I lose my patience?"

"On this happy, happy morn in Bethlehem the king is born. Come with us to worship him in Bethlehem."

"I will, I will. But not until I sweep the floor, clean the cupboards, scrub the door. I will, I will!"

"Baboushka, Baboushka, the baby cries for you."

"I will come . . . tomorrow. Tomorrow will do!"

There was nothing more that they could say, and so the shepherds went their way.

The sun shone. The flowers bloomed. There was a tapping at the door.

"Who's there? Who's there?" groaned Baboushka from her rocking chair.

"We are the wise men from the East come to tell the happy news."

"What is it? What is it before I lose my patience?"

"We have seen his star above and come to find the king to bring to him our gifts of love. Come with us, Baboushka dear, for the king is very near."

"I will. I will. But not until I bake a plumcake for the king and make the child a covering."

"Baboushka, Baboushka, the child waits for you."

"I will come . . . tomorrow. Tomorrow will do."

There was nothing more that they could say and so the wise men went their way.

When the house was spotless, the cupboards clean, and not a speck of dust was to be seen, when the cake was baked and the covering made, Baboushka packed her presents all, now to search for the stable and the stall.

But when she got there, the stable was bare, and empty was the stall.

Through town and country, night and day, Baboushka wandered on her way, seeking, seeking, seeking.

So on each Christmas Eve you may see sneaking up the stair a little wrinkled lady leaving her gifts there for every girl and boy to celebrate the joy of Jesus' birth, because Baboushka knows . . . tomorrow may be too late.

What are the gifts the lady brings? Time to wonder, time to sing, hands to help, a loving heart . . . gifts suitable for a king.

LEADER: Time to wonder, time to sing, hands to help, a loving heart . . . that gives us some wonderful gift ideas.

BALTHASAR: Yes, those are wonderful gifts. But now we must be on our way.

LEADER: Thanks for stopping on your way to visit the Christ Child. You gave us some good ideas about what gifts we might bring.

(Allow time for those that brought gifts to bring them to the front and, perhaps, lay the gifts near a manger.)

* Retold by Elaine Ward in Being With God: Advent Devotions (Brea, CA: Educational Ministries, 1988). Reprinted with permission.

Make copies of this resource under the Creative Commons attribution, not-for-profit license.

Page updated 11 Sept. 2013

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