I love Epiphany. I love the stories of the Magi, Anna, Simeon, Paul, Peter, the wedding guests, and others who realize who Jesus is and why he has come. That Christ makes himself manifest to the world feels miraculous. That we can join in the Epiphany of Christ, realizing who he is and what he has called us to, is a great gift. And in this dark and cold season in Wisconsin, the light of Epiphany is always warmly celebrated around our table.
During this favorite season our family set out to read through John with the Good Book Club this year. Reading Romans after dinner each night was such a success last year, that I was excited to journey through John as family each night. But, I must admit it has been a more difficult reading season for us. The novelty isn’t there as we have maintained an after dinner Bible reading tradition through the year following our reading of Romans. Not everyone is excited about this daily reading and we began this journey struggling to find ourselves all around the table each night.
I know that when reading straight from the Bible with young children it is so very helpful to give them a map before you begin. Sometimes this means giving definitions to a few words or explaining cultural practices that give context to what is going on in the passage. But it can also mean shining a spotlight on a few beautiful moments or themes to look for as they journey through the passage. And so, the ‘I Am’ statements seemed like the map we needed.
These seven Epiphanies about who Jesus is have become a rallying point for our study. The younger boys and I spent an afternoon with our watercolors making a banner of the ‘I Am’ statements before we had encountered any of them in our nightly readings. The next evening when we opened our Bible, the boys sat intently and one said, “I wonder if we will find an ‘I Am’ tonight. Hung by our Epiphany star, these statements are giving us something to look for as we read and reminding us how God manifested himself in Christ. This little map has given us a spotlight into John and helped us to find our way.
To make an ‘I Am’ banner you need heavy paper, string, watercolors (or other favorite medium.) Cut eight banner pieces; ours are 5” x 7”. Divide up the ‘I Am’ statements and have family members illustrate each one on a seperate banner piece. My favorite part was watching the boys decide how to illustrate more abstract ideas like truth. For that one, my ten-year-old painted a lie detector.
When they are dry use a hole punch to make holes and string the banner pieces. Hang and let your banner guide you as you journey through John.
What is guiding you through the Gospel of John this Epiphany?