Tag: epiphany

Jan 4 2012

Christmas reflection: Recognizing Christ when we find him

Larry LivingstonThis is the last in this seasonís Christmas reflections from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections have helped you on your own journey through this time.

“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.” (Matthew 2:9)

It is interesting to observe how differently families and faith communities deal with the “Three Kings” in their Nativity scenes.

Some place the figurines right there at the manger, along with the baby Jesus, as soon as Advent begins, while others keep them hidden away until the Feast of the Epiphany and only then allow their crËches to be complete. Read more

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Jan 6 2011

Celebrating Three Kings Day

Two CFCA projects explain the Three Kings Day celebrations taking place on Jan. 6:

Mexico

In most parts of Mexico, they believe that the Three Kings, or the Magi ó traditionally Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar ó visit the homes at dawn on Jan. 6 to leave gifts for children who have behaved well throughout the year.

Children write letters to the Magi asking for the toys they would like. This tradition is based on the Biblical passage where the three kings brought the child Jesus gold, incense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

Kings Cake

Children in Cuernavaca, Mexico, wait to partake of the traditional ìRosca de Reyes,î or Kings Cake ñ a bread with sugar and crystallized fruit.

Days before Jan. 6, parents buy gifts and hide them from the children so they are surprised and believe the kings brought the gifts.

On Jan. 6, the children wake up early, impatient and thrilled to find the gifts left for them. The children play with their toys all day long with their siblings and friends.

Families, offices, schools, neighbors, friends ñ in short, everyone ñ partakes of the traditional ìRosca de Reyes,î or Kings Cake, which is a bread in the shape of a ring decorated with sugar and crystallized fruit.

Various small plastic dolls about an inch and a half long are hidden inside to represent the baby Jesus.

Each person cuts his or her own piece of cake, and those who find a doll inside must bring tamales to everyone present on Feb. 2, the day when Mexican families bring the statue of baby Jesus to the church for a blessing.

According to the Bible, that is the day when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple.

This tradition is practiced primarily in urban and suburban communities, because families in rural areas do not have the economic means to do so.

-Written and edited by: Daniel Luna, Alicia Garza Ramos and Angelica Lozada at the CFCA project in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Martha Meireles, Cuernavaca project coordinator, sent us this report.

Dominican Republic

The celebration of Three Kings Day is one of the biggest traditions in the Dominican Republic.

The celebration starts Jan. 4 when children write letters for the three kings describing the gifts they want and put them in Christmas trees, on beds or give them to their parents.

On Jan. 5 in the afternoon, children find grass, water and food, and place them under their beds for the camels and wise men to eat and drink and eat when they visit at night.

On this day, children go to bed earlier than usual. Once the children are asleep, parents place the gifts under their bed or at the Christmas tree and take the food away to let the children know the three kings visited them.

At dawn, you can hear in the street whistles, laughter and the sound of bikes, children running and playing with their toys after opening the gifts.

The celebration is extended to the community because the children visit their neighbors to show them their gifts, and the neighbors usually give them other gifts left for them by the wise men.

This tradition turns a normal day into a magical day and offers an unforgettable memory that will last all their lives.

This beautiful tradition is full of faith and love holding a magical world of fantasies uniting families and communities.

-Nelson Figueroa, CFCA project coordinator in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, sent us this report.

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Dec 29 2010

Advent reflection: Modern pilgrims find a star worth following

Larry LivingstonHere is the last of the Advent-Christmas season reflections from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope you have learned from and enjoyed these as much as we did!

ìWe saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.î (Matthew 2:2)

One of the most interesting things about the brief account of the visit of the Magi in the Gospel of Matthew is what is not included. For instance, we arenít told where the visitors came from, how many there were or anything about their backgrounds.

Legend has it that they were kings and that there were three (because of the three gifts), but that is all historical embellishment. Matthew didnít seem to think such details were important.

But he did think other things were important, such as the fact that these travelers were seekers of truth and were willing to go to great lengths to find it.

Another major point is that, while the Magi were prominent enough to receive an audience with King Herod, they werenít caught up in the trappings of wealth and influence. When they eventually did find the Christ-child, they saw past his humble surroundings to honor him for who he was.

CFCA mission awareness trip

Sponsors during the September 2010 Kenya/Uganda mission awareness trip attend a parade led by the Shangilia childrenís band. The sponsors are wearing the traditional Masai regalia.

And, while Matthew doesnít share exactly what land the visitors came from, he does emphasize that they were foreigners.

Perhaps he deliberately left out any reference to a particular country because he wanted them to represent all nations and peoples, but one thing is certain ñ the Gospel writer wants us to know that these foreign gentiles were among the first to recognize the Messiah.

So, while we may not know a lot about the Magi, what we do know is profound. They are defined not by kingly trappings and power, nor even by gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the end, the Magi matter because they hungered for God and were willing to face any obstacle in order to know him. They truly were îWise Menî (if, indeed, they were men!) and they set an example that holy pilgrims have followed for more than 2,000 years.

The CFCA community has our own holy pilgrims. Each year, more than 700 people, most of them CFCA sponsors, travel from the U.S. to visit our projects in the 23 countries where we work.

Like the Magi, they too are seekers. And, like the Magi, they find life-changing truth in the humblest of surroundings.

In spending time with sponsored friends and in witnessing firsthand the work of our project staff to help families and communities lift themselves out of oppressive poverty through CFCAís Hope for a Family program, these travelers behold the same wonder that the visitors from the east beheld 2,000 years ago ñ God truly dwells among and within the poor of this world!

It is good news that begs to be shared wherever people yearn for a star worth following.

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