Category Archives: Improv

The story of the EPIPHANY

Revisiting the Epiphany Story

Before you begin with the story-watching/learning process, check out this beautiful song by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, musician, Psalm scholar and liturgical theologian! His gift to us this Epiphany. You can see/hear more of Richard’s work at Worldmaking Publishing and Psalm Immersion –or hear his wonderful weekly segment on the Pulpit Fiction Podcast!

 

WATCH AND WONDER

Matthew 2:1-12
As told by Elizabeth Adkisson

 

WONDER WORDS

HOMAGE–What does it mean to “pay homage”? To pay homage is to pay respect. The wise men wanted to go to find Jesus to show him respect and honor him. Do you think King Herod really wanted to find baby Jesus to “pay him homage”? In what ways did the magi (the “wise men”) pay him homage? How would you or have you paid someone homage?

EPIPHANY This story is called the story of the “Epiphany.” An “epiphany” is an appearance–often an incredibly special one. On January 6, we celebrate the Epiphany (appearance) of Jesus Christ to the Magi (wise men).

WAYS to WONDER 

For all ages:

***What makes someone wise? Who are the wise men and women that you know today? Who are the wise people in the world?

***Get out your “nativity set” (it can be an actual nativity set or just about any kind of moveable objects)! Since most nativity sets don’t have Herod (he’s not the most popular guy), find something to play Herod. Got a Darth Vader figure, great! Even a salt shaker will do. Be creative! As Ms. Adkisson’s story plays, have your family play out the Epiphany scene. (You can also read another version of the story here.) Then try to tell it yourself as you move the pieces around. (What parts of the story did you remember? What was left out?) manger4

For the older set:

***If I were telling this story, in order to connect with Herod, I might think about a time I struggled with jealousy (fear that something I have will be taken away by someone else). Recall a story of jealousy from your own life.

***Later in Matthew, Jesus says this: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:25) Are you worried about what might be taken away from you (or what you might have to give up) in order to follow God? Tell a story about a time you gave something up to follow God–or witnessed someone else make a sacrifice to follow God.

Improv Wisdom

I begin 2016 with a great joy–getting to participate in an improv class through Washington Improv Theater. I have always loved theater and improv, but have not taken formal classes since I was in school. I have wonderful friends who are doing serious work on the theology of improv–check their blogs out here and here. I am particularly interested in the ways improv can aid us in going deeper into the biblical stories and our stories. While I hope to post more on the connection between improv and storytelling/learning, it strikes me that today’s story involves a great deal of improv on the part of the wise men.

One of the first rules of improv is to say, “YES”–to agree to the situation presented to you, and to move on from there. Much like in life, especially when life throws us unexpected circumstances which force us to be flexible and adjust, for improv to “work,” one must be willing to enter in to what is being offered. The brilliant Tina Fey has a great description of “Yes, AND” in her book, Bossypants:

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if you say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You ________!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun….

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own…. To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion.

In what ways do you see the wise men saying, “yes” to the circumstances presumably unusual circumstances unfolding before them?