PRAYER: Dear Jesus, we thank you for being our light in the darkness, our friend on the road, our leader and guide. Help us to come and follow you, all the way to the cross and beyond. In your name we pray, Amen.
12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
Why do you think Jesus chose fishermen as his first disciples?
What do you think it means to “fish for people”?
What are some ways that you can to what you are good at while showing people how much God loves them?
1. As We Gather: What was your favorite thing that happened this year? Write or draw a picture on the paper provided. (scratch paper and markers provided)
2. Opening Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for sending the star to the wise men so that they could meet Jesus in person, and bring the good news of his coming to earth to all they met. Help us to learn more about this story during Sunday School today.
3. Explain how the day will work and divide students: On Epiphany, we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men to meet Jesus. They had to travel a very long way to get there, so we will be going on our own Epiphany journey today. After I divide you into small groups, you will travel with your small groups to several learning stations throughout the church. At each station, you will be told where to go next. Have a wonderful Epiphany journey today!
(Divide the group into small groups of three or four, depending on how many you have. I usually have all of the students line up from youngest to oldest. Then, I find the center of the line and break it in half, leading the second line parallel to the first line so that they youngest is paired with someone in the middle grades, and the middle grades are paired with confirmation students. After making sure that all of the pairs can get along, I put two pairs together, forming a foursome. Make sure each person gets a small bag to hold the treasures they will collect during their journey. Send each foursome to a different station; they will get to visit all of them by the end.)
1. Chalk the Doorposts: Meet at the back of the church.
One Epiphany tradition is to bless our houses for the New Year. Which better place to bless than our house of worship? Find a doorway in the church that has not yet been chalked. When you are done, it will look like this:
20 + C + M + B + 19
The oldest/tallest person in your group can make the marks while others read the blessing. It goes like this:
The Three Wise Men,
Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar (C M B),
followed the star to Bethlehem and the child Jesus
two thousande and nineteen years ago (20 19)
May Christ bless our home, (+ +)
and remain with us throughout the new year.
Each person can take a piece of chalk and a copy of this blessing with you as you continue your journey to the library/parlor room.
2. Movie: Meet in the library/parlor room.
–Screen and projector, DVD Player — (already in the DVD player) “The Journey of the Three Wise Men: https://youtu.be/CGmeh6CmDpE –paper crowns and two-sided tape
Do you know the story of the Wise Men? Can you picture yourself in the story? Watch this short video to learn more about the story of Epiphany.
Each person make & take a small paper crown with you as you continue your journey to the room behind the stage.
Follow the directions on the star outline sheet. You can color both sides! If you have time, complete the star maze. Each person take your star and maze with you as you continue your journey to the fellowship hall.
4. Song: We Are Marching in the Light of God: Meet in the Fellowship Hall
Take some time to explore the gifts which the Magi brought to Jesus.
Gold is a precious metal. It reminds us that Jesus is our king.
Frankincense is a kind of tree sap that, when burned, makes a other-worldly smell. It was used to worship God, because it was believed that the smoke helped to carry our prayers to God. It reminds us that Jesus is the Son of God.
Myrrh is a also a kind of tree sap. It was dried, and crushed, and added to lotion that people would put on bodies after they died. Its sharp smell was stronger than the smell of death. It reminds us that Jesus came to earth as a real human, and that he would die for us.
Give each person a card. Shake up the room spray and spray one squirt onto each card. Attach a Glue Dot to the center of the card, and then attach one chocolate coin to the Glue Dot. Take it with you as you continue your journey to the kitchen.
6. King Cake: Meet in the kitchen
–cupcakes (one with a dried bean baked inside)
Because it was hard to find Jesus with only a star to guide them, some countries celebrate Epiphany with King Cake. Decorate your cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles, and then eat them. If you find a dried bean in your cupcake, you found Jesus! You get to be the king or queen of our Epiphany party!
If you have time, you can decorate your bag with markers and stickers. Take it with you as you continue your journey to the back of the church.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of
Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus
and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When
the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And
Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has
not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants,
“Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there
were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding
twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them,
“Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He
said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they
took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that
had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who
had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and
said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine
after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until
now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in
Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in
him. 12 After
this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his
disciples; and they remained there a few days.
OF THE WEEK:
Have you ever been to a
wedding? What was that experience
like? Have you ever been at a party
where they ran out of food? What was
that experience like? Why do you think
Jesus decided to help when the wine ran out?
Where do you fit into this story?
Now after they had
left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up,
take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell
you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then
Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and
remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been
spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
Dear God, help me to listen to you, no
matter how you choose to speak to me.
Joseph is dreaming again! Have you been paying attention to your dreams
this season? What do they have to tell
Monday: Matthew 2:13b
Dear Jesus, my time is not always your
time. Help me to follow your lead, even
when it interrupts my plans. Amen.
Have you ever had to get up and go without
advance notice? What was that experience
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13c
Dear God, sometimes unexpected things
happen to me. When I am in the middle of
something unexpected, help me to you that you are present with me. Amen.
What do you think it would have been like
to unexpectedly have to move with a two-year-old for Mary and Joseph? What would it be like for you?
Wednesday: Matthew 2:14
Dear God, today I pray for those who are
traveling because of the threat of war or violence. Keep them safe on their journey, and help
them to know that they are always at home in you. Amen.
Have you ever traveled to a foreign
country? What was that experience like
for you? If you could travel somewhere,
where would you go?
Thursday: Matthew 2:15
Dear God, today I pray for those who live
far from home. Sustain them as they
learn new things, and comfort them when they miss what is familiar. Amen.
What would it have been like for Mary and
Joseph to learn a new language, customs, and even cuisine? What would it be like for you to do so?
Friday: Matthew 2:16
Dear Jesus, today I pray for all children
in the world, in our country, and in my community whose lives are threatened by
violence. Help me to see this danger and
act to bring peace. Amen.
King Herod’s actions against the children
in Bethlehem are similar to Pharaoh’s in Moses’ time. Why do you think he chose to do this? Where are there places in this world where
something similar is happening, even today?
Saturday: Matthew 2:17-18
(Pray in your own words for people you know
who are sad, mourning, or in pain today.)
Have you ever been so sad
that you didn’t know if you would ever stop crying? What was that experience like? What do you think it would have been like to
lose a child to violence? How can you
make a difference in the lives of those who are mourning loss?
In the time of
King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the
East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the
child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its
rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When
King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and
calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired
of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They
told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Dear God, guide my journey of faith. Keep all who are traveling safe, and give me
the courage to go where I have never been.
What do you think it would have been like
to travel all the way across the known world because of a sign in the
stars? Where is a place to which you
would like to travel? What journey is
God calling you to take?
Monday: Matthew 2:3-4
Dear Jesus, give me wisdom and
knowledge. Help me to find trustworthy
sources, that I may be guided in your way.
When Herod doesn’t know what to do next, he
seeks knowledge from the wisest people he knows. Where do you go to seek wisdom or
knowledge? How do you know which sources
to trust? For whom are you a source of
wisdom or knowledge in your life?
Tuesday: Matthew 2:5-6
(Pray for your town and the people who live
there using your own words.)
Bethlehem is a little like the towns that
we live in; small places in the middle of nowhere. What would it be like to know that someone
famous came from your town? What would
you like our towns to be famous for?
Wednesday: Matthew 2:7-8
Dear Jesus, I know that you came to save
the lost. Find me when I am lost, and
help me to have the diligence to seek that which needs to be found in my
When is a time that you can remember
searching diligently for something? Did
you find it? How did you find what you
were looking for? What do you think God
is calling you to search for?
Thursday: Matthew 2:9-10
Dear God, I thank you for the end of long
journeys, and the gift of joy. Fill me
with a sense of joy that never runs out, that it may overflow to those I
What would it have been like to get to the
end of such a long journey? When is a
time when you have been overwhelmed with joy?
How does God bring joy into your life?
Friday: Matthew 2:11
Dear Jesus, thank you for reminding me of
just who you really are. Help me to be
generous, both in giving and receiving.
The wise men bring gifts to show that Jesus
is king, God, and sacrifice. What do you
think Mary and Joseph thought of these gifts?
What is the best gift you ever gave?
What is the best gift that you ever received?
Saturday: Matthew 2:12
Dear Jesus, sometimes you ask me to travel
on unfamiliar roads. Give me courage to
persevere, and an open mind and heart to follow where you lead. Amen.
When is a time when you had to take a
detour, or travel by an unfamiliar road?
What was it like for you and your travel companions? What do you suppose it was like for the wise
Our parish has been working on learning the entire story of Jesus’ birth, from A to Z. Since many of the people who we meet in the story aren’t in a standard nativity set, I reworked a set from several years ago. This set can be used as Popsicle Stick puppets, or you can cut out tabs for the bottom of each character so that they can stand on their own, as you see in the picture. I cut popsicle sticks in half and affixed them to the tabs to give them some weight and help them to be more sturdy. Access your copy of the A to Z Nativity here
As you color the characters, listen to some easy-to-follow along Christmas songs from Reawaken Hymns:
When you are ready to tell the whole story, you can use the words below:
Zechariah: Zechariah is an old man who has given up on having children. Then, an angel appears and tells him that he will be the father to John the Baptist. He finds this message hard to believe, so the angel gives him nine months to think about it. He says, “Because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” (Luke 1:20)
Mary: Mary is a young woman from the middle of nowhere. When the angel tells her that she will be the mother of the Son of God, she responds, first with questions, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34), and then with faith, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:37) This statement of faith and the belief that “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) changes the entire course of the rest of her life.
Elizabeth: Elizabeth is Zechariah’s wife and Mary’s cousin. It is to Elizabeth’s house that Mary flees once she agrees to be Jesus’ mother, and at that house receives the warmest of welcomes. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” (Luke 1:42) Elizabeth cries. She celebrates the birth of a longed-for child in her baby, John, even as she welcomes the mother of the one who is to come.
Joseph : Joseph is the adopted father of Jesus. He is engaged to marry Mary, but they are not yet living together, when he finds out that she is pregnant. We learn that God chose Jesus’ step-father well when we learn that he is both righteous and merciful, planning to dismiss her quietly. When he dreams of an angel who explains “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 1:20) he believes the angel, takes Mary as his wife, and claims Jesus as his own.
Jesus: Jesus, of course, is the real star of the entire story. His name means “God saves,” which reminds everyone that, although he was born in a barn out in the country instead of in a royal palace, he is truly the King of Kings. God’s love is a constant surprise, and nowhere more so than in the birth of Jesus.
Shepherds: Shepherds are the last people you would expect to receive the first news of the birth of Jesus. They live out in the country, they are poor, and they are on the margins of society. And yet, God chooses the least, the last, and the lowly, to reveal God’s plan of love and forgiveness for all. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors,” sings the whole multitude of the heavenly host. (Luke 2:14). The shepherds believe, go and see for themselves, and just can’t stop telling everyone they meet about the miracle of Christmas.
Simeon: Simeon is a prophet who has waited his entire life to meet Jesus face to face. When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple for the first time, he knows that his life’s work is complete. “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word,” Simeon sings, “for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” (Luke 2:29-31).
Anna: Anna has also waited her entire life to meet Jesus face to face. When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple for the first time, she also knows that her life’s work is complete. Anna shared the good news that the Messiah had come with anyone who would listen, thankful for a long life well lived, a precious hope at last fulfilled.
Magi: The magi remind us that Jesus was not just a miracle for the people of Israel, but for the entire world. They see the sign of the star and follow, past the edge of their known world, to meet Jesus face to face. “They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” (Matthew 2:11) because these people from a foreign land knew that he was king, God, and sacrifice. They bring this message to the nations, even as they return home by another road.
Star: Did you know that people were not the only ones waiting for Jesus to be born? A star in the sky waited to appear to earth until the perfect moment, and the magi, who were probably also astrologers, saw the star and followed it all the way to Jerusalem. After meeting King Herod, they continue their search “and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.” (Matthew 2:9)
Animals: Although the animals aren’t technically in the story, having animals as a part of our nativity set reminds us that all of creation was waiting for and excited to welcome Jesus to earth. The animals even gave up their feeding trough so that Jesus would have a cradle in which to sleep! (Luke 2:7)
God bless you and your family during this holy season! –Family God Time
Now the birth of
Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been
engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with
child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph,
being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned
to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved
to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph,
son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child
conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She
will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people
from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill
what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God
is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he
did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but
had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named