It’s Four O’Clock on a Tuesday – Will There be an Epiphany Feast? By Donna Linnemeyer
(Editor’s Note: Donna Linnemeyer is the Program Administrator at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. She will be sharing parish life stories from behind the scenes to give us a break from all the heavy duty theology on this site. Her beat is not generic parish life but life in a confessional congregation and will hopefully inspire pastors and laity to make confessional theology the heartbeat of the parish. In this post she shares the joys and frustrations of adding festivity to the feasts of our Lord’s body and blood. Donna’s posts are cataloged on the Regular Columns page under the title “Confessions of a Confessional Church Administrator.”)
It’s four o’clock on a Tuesday, the Tuesday before Epiphany, and I just checked the sign up sheet for our International Dessert makers. There is one more name than there was on Sunday morning which is good except that there were no names on Sunday morning. Yikes, we have one person bringing an international dessert for our first annual “Epiphany International Dessert Reception”. And that one dessert is listed as fortune cookies. Well that is “international” but it is not quite the type of satisfying dish that our members look for on a dessert table.
Will this themed social event, scheduled to take place two days from now, after our Epiphany Divine Service, really come off? Yes, it will probably be a nice little event with about 30 people milling around a couple of tables of sweets and interesting beverages. Those who turn out will appreciate the refreshments and the chance to linger a bit after a lovely festival service. It won’t be well-attended and the amount of energy put into it might seem to exceed the response but that is okay.
The main event of the day is the Divine Service that begins at 6:45 p.m. on the same evening. Here we will come together for a festival service to give praise and glory to our Newborn King, the Light of the World and to thank our Heavenly Father that he sent us His Son to be our Savior and most importantly, to feast on His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. This stands all by itself.
So why even plan the International Dessert Reception at all during this post-Christmas season? Here are the great things that will come out of our Epiphany celebration event.
- We started advertising this event in mid-December with an article called “Epiphany = Jesus Revealed to the World”. We continued to include this article in all of our holiday newsletters. In basic terms, the article compared Epiphany (revelation of the Light of the World) to Advent (preparation for the coming of the King) and to Christmas (birth of our Savior). This gave us the opportunity to share the meaning of Epiphany with our members for many weeks.
- After providing these written explanations of Epiphany, we are bringing home the message by hosting an international dessert event.
- Any event with food will bring in more people than an event without food (hey, we’re Lutherans…we like food!). Worship attendance will likely be just a little better with a reception afterwards.
- This year we may not get as many members to attend as we would like but this event will grow each year until members consider Epiphany services as part of their post-Christmas routine.
- Each church festival that we promote brings us closer to viewing the church calendar as a more relevant record of historic and celebratory events than the secular “Hallmark” calendar of events.
I am looking forward to this being the start of many successful Epiphany events at Bethany!
To Do list for Wednesday: Go to local grocery store and locate international food aisle.