Follow That Star!
January 3rd, 2016 (see other dates)
The Epiphany of the Lord
Discussion Questions for Reading 1What encouragement do we receive from this reading? Think about what it might be like if all "nations walked by God’s light." How might that come about? Talk about how you will help others to share in the prophet's wonderful vision. Discuss the themes of light and darkness that Isaiah writes about. Where is light of God most needed in today’s world?
Reading 1 Isaiah 60:1-6
Reading 1 ReflectionIn this first reading God's people hear words of encouragement. God is going to "shine on them" again and give them a new opportunity to keep their covenant and be faithful. If they do that, they will be filled with joy. The writer also hints of an even more joyous time when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will come into the world and persons will come from afar "bearing gold and frankincense."
Like the Israelites, we often fail to keep our covenant with God. But God, who is always faithful, offers us another chance to fill our lives with the peace and joy of God's love.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2How can we spread God's message of hope and love to people who might not know it? Who do you know that needs to hear God's message of hope? What are some ways that God's message might be most effectively communicated?
Reading 2 Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Reading 2 ReflectionIn the second reading the people of Ephesus are told that the Good News of Jesus is meant not just for the Jews but for all people. We are called to be "co-heirs" in the promise of Jesus Christ. That means we share in his work of salvation by caring for others, by reaching out to those in need, and by being peacemakers.
Discussion Questions for GospelReflect on some of the "little epiphanies" in your life. Share that with others.
Gospel Matthew 2:1-12
Gospel ReflectionThe story of the astrologers, or magi, following the light of a distant star is full of surprises. The astrologers, who were Gentiles, were the first to worship Jesus as the newborn King of the Jews. They found him, not in a palace surrounded by signs of wealth and might, but as a helpless baby in the arms of Mary, his mother. Yet the astrologers believed and worshiped him, offering him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, Matthew tells us, full of joy and wonder, they returned to their distant homes.
The astrologers had the faith and wisdom to see in this baby the promised Messiah. Christ shows himself to us, too, and comes into our lives in many ways and through many people. If we are people of faith, we will find him in these little "epiphanies." We will offer him our own gifts—our prayers and worship, our loving service of others, and our constant faith, even when it might seem hard to find him.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
We Offer GiftsOn the feast of the Epiphany, we hear the story of the Magi from the east who traveled a long distance to worship Jesus. The Magi brought gifts to Jesus. Ask the children what gifts they would bring to Jesus. Have them illustrate their gifts on a piece of paper. Gather the children’s drawings and place them in a gift box or gift bag.
Let Us Adore HimHave the children "travel" to see Jesus. Take them for a walk to church or a place in the school where the nativity is on display. Bring the box or bag of "gifts" from the previous activity and place it by the manger. Have the children sing the refrain to O Come All Ye Faithful.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
A Painting of the MagiThe astrologers, or magi, came from the East looking for the newborn King of the Jews. Matthew leaves out many details that were added in later times, for example, that there were three men and that they were kings. Some refer to them as wise men, and others see them as representing the peoples of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. Imagine that you are an artist who has been commissioned to paint a picture of this gospel story. Do a rough sketch of the magi as you picture they might have looked when they came to visit the infant Jesus. Then use paint or markers to finish up the sketch. What might the magi look like today?
Continuing the StoryWrite a continuation of Saint Matthew's Gospel, describing the return of the magi to their own country. Give each one a name and write some conversation into your story, describing what their reactions might have been:
- to the star that led them
- to the fact that they found this "king of the Jews" in such poor conditions, and unknown to most of the people
- to the warning they had received in their dream.
Epiphany AlertThe many little "epiphanies" or revelations of Jesus in our daily lives are God’s gifts to us. If we are sleepwalking through the day, these gifts will remain unopened. For the next week, go on an Epiphany Alert. Be alert for the signs that Jesus is present in the world and in the people around you. At the end of each day, fill in a chart like the one below. Here are a few examples to get you started.
Signs When Spotted What this sign means to me
A beautiful sunset
An inspiring song
(add your own)
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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