Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
- Isaiah 60:1-6
- Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
- Matthew 2:1-12
“Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem.” (Matthew 2:1b)
All people are God’s people.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
- Tell the children the story of the Magi and use nativity scene figures to show how our tradition has pictured them. Though we see crowns on their heads, they might not have been kings. But they were important people in their own country. Provide patterns to make crowns and boxes to decorate as gifts. Let children imagine the kinds of gifts they would like to bring to the newborn king and write those on slips of paper to put in the boxes.
- Teach the song “We Three Kings.” Then organize a procession where the children, wearing their crowns and carrying their boxes, will sing and march to the nativity scene in the classroom or in the church. They can place their gifts around the infant.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
- Tell or read the story of the Magi. Explain that these men were probably not kings, although our tradition pictures them that way. Magi in Persia were physicians and astrologers. They read signs in the heavens, and they, like the Jews, were waiting for a savior. They migrated to Palestine, following a special star they believed would lead them to the one they had been waiting for. Herod, a very jealous ruler, wanted to destroy what the Magi wanted to honor. Discuss the kinds of difficulties some migrants have today when they travel to another country to follow a dream.
- The gifts brought by the Magi were symbols of the honor and respect they wanted to offer Jesus. What gifts do people bring today when they want to travel to new lands? Include talents, abilities, and ideals in this discussion. Direct the students to write a one-page essay about the gifts they have which could be shared with others when their journey of life leads them to discover Jesus in those people.
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
- Use a map to find Palestine (Israel) and Persia (Iran) and discuss the tensions in that part of the world today. Ancient Persia had a benevolent ruler, Cyrus, who freed the Jews from their Babylonian exile (see Babylon in Iraq) to return home to Palestine. The story of the Magi comes from a description of Persia’s astrologers and healers, who as members of the Zoroastrian religion believed in one God and looked forward to the coming of a Messiah.
- Divide the class into three groups, giving each group a specific topic and question to research, think, and pray about. Have all members of each group write an essay response to their group’s question:
a. Israel’s relationship with Iran today: How could both countries benefit from honoring the history of their ancient
b. Jealous rulers: How could Herod’s life have changed if he had welcomed and respected the Magi from the east?
c. Symbolism of the Magi’s gifts: Describe some appropriate gifts for ambassadors to bring to the leaders of Middle Eastern countries today.
- Collect and read samples of essays on each topic.