By Luke Johnson | June 18, 2015
The season of Epiphany is all about Jesus being revealed in the world. It's the season where the Gentile magi make there way to worship the prophesied toddler king. It's a season of miracles and wild stories from the gospels. It's a season completely wrapped up in the revelation (the water-stirring) of Jesus in the world.
Celebrating with Mystery Epiphaners
Here's an idea to get your group excited about encoutering the risen Jesus during Epiphany:
1. Study 'epiphany stories' from the gospels.
On your first youth night of Epiphany, explain that Epiphany is all about the revelation of Jesus in the world. And, because Jesus is alive, he is still at work in the world now. Spend the first few weeks of Epiphany studying stories from one of the gospels (Mark is a great place to go, because the stories are short and colourful - check out some of our Epiphany studies). Focus on what Jesus is revealing about himself, or what others discover about him.
On the week before your guest speakers start to visit (see below), you might consider sharing your own story, and your leaders might share their stories with their small groups. Explain something like, "Over the past few weeks we've been looking at how Jesus is revealed in the gospels. Tonight you've heard your leaders' stories. Over the next few weeks, we're going to hear from some 'Mystery Epiphaners', who will share about how Jesus has revealed himself in their lives. As you hear these stories, I want you to think about your own story. Where has Jesus shown up in your own life? In our last week of Epiphany, you'll have a chance to share your own story with your small group."
2. Mystery Epiphaners
Invite "Mystery Epiphaners" in from your parish, one each week, to share their 'epiphany stories' of how Jesus has revealed himself in their lives. Be imaginative here -- everyone has a story to tell, so don't limit yourself to the younger crowd. Invite that 90-year-old retired teacher, or the middle-aged truck driver, or a young mother.
3. Small group story sharing
In the final week of Epiphany, make your regular study time a story-sharing time. If your group is fairly large, it will be helpful to break into small groups. Now that the young people have heard so many epiphany stories from others, they'll be ready to share their own. (You'll find that if you make this an annual practice, some young people will be extra courageous and may ask to share their story with the whole group.)
Here's a sample program for how you might run the night:
- 6:00 - Young people arrive; social time to hang out, snack, and chat
- 6:15 - Official "welcome to youth group!" and opening prayer, with some kind of mixer to get people interacting outside of their natural connections.
- 6:20 - Group activity that focuses on miracle stories from the gospels -- maybe a game of "scripture picture", like Pictionary, but all the clues to act or draw are from the Bible. (25 minutes)
- 6:45 - Study time (50-60 minutes)
- Remind your group that we're in the season of Epiphany and see if they remember what it's all about. Introduce this week's "Mystery Epiphaner".
- Mystery Epiphaner tells his/her story for 15 minutes or more. (Some people like to be brief, especially if they are less comfortable with a crowd, but don't be afraid to give the speaker lots of time if they need it. Good things happen when people share stories.)
- Ask if anyone has questions for the speaker. Silly or serious, questions allow your group to connect with the speaker. (Make sure you ask your Mystery Epiphaner beforehand if they're okay answering questions!)
- 7:40 - Epiphany compline to end your evening. (15-20 minutes)
- 8:00 - Done!