Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures celebrating the Epiphany with your classes.
2 Samuel 5:1-3
“We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Matthew 2:2b).
Wise men from the East were looking for signs, so God gave them one.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
Ask the children how they celebrated Jesus’ birthday in their homes. Then tell them the story that is found in today’s Gospel. These wise people from far away knew that something very important was happening in the world. They wanted to celebrate Jesus’ birth with gifts, and they trusted God to use a star to lead them to the right place. Provide crowns, capes, and gifts and get volunteers to act out the story of the wise men following a star and finding Jesus. The class can sing “We Three Kings” while the “wise men” journey around the classroom.
End with a birthday party for Jesus. Each student can say what gift they would like to give. The gift could be a kind act, a resolution to do something good, or an item to share with someone.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
Invite discussion of children’s experiences of watching stars: planetarium visits, camping trips, backyard stargazing, and so on. Tell them to list in their notebooks all the feelings they have while watching stars. Then discuss their feelings. Science tells us that we are made of stardust. Do the children like that idea? Why or why not?
Read today’s Gospel and talk about the importance of the star in the story. Why did the wise men trust the star? Why did God use the star as a sign? “Reach for the stars” is a phrase people use to encourage others to set goals and follow their dreams. Play the song “Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. Have the children use their notebooks again to write down several of their personal dreams and goals. Close with a prayer asking God to lead them toward God’s dream for them.
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
Have your students research Zoroastrians (ancestors of the present-day Parsis in India). Discuss what they discover about these Persians’ beliefs (one God, heaven and hell, a coming Savior) and their background (astronomers, physicians). Tell the class that the wise men from the East in today’s Gospel could be a reference to Zoroastrians.
Show The Fourth Wise Man, a DVD available from CatholicVideo.com. The film (72 minutes) is the story of a Persian physician who sees the star that will guide him to Jesus. His three fellow astronomers set out on their journey without him, and he spends his life trying to find the Savior. He brings gifts on his journey but gives them to needy people along the way. As a healer, he gives the gift of himself until finally, at his death, he encounters the risen Jesus.