“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell me about it.”—Mary Oliver
“[In this story it is] the Gospel’s intention to identify Jesus as a Messiah for all people.”—Laurence Hull Stookey
In this lesson, two of our classes will travel together as a group through “stations,” each representing a different part or experience in the Magi’s journey to Jesus. When the children gather together, ask them children to pair up with a buddy from the other class for the journey (older children with younger children).
After music, gather all of the children together in one room (3+4 year old room).
Hear the Word
Tell the children the story of the Magi visiting Jesus from Matthew 2:1-12. You may want to read a brief version from one of our children’s Bibles. Some of the children may even recall some of the details from Sunday school and children’s liturgy last week. Invite them to share what they remember.
Respond to the Word
Tell the students that this week our response to the story will be to take a trip of our own. There are four stations in total, each located in an open Sunday School room (3+4 year old, k+1st grade, and 2nd and 3rd grade room.) Before the lesson, put stars on each of these doors, so that the students can “follow the star” from room to room.
(1.) Station 1: Packing for the journey (3 and 4 year old room)
The students will pack a bag with their snack, a star crayon, a white candle, and gold, a piece of frankincense resin, and a piece of Myrrh resin. Before packing, burn Frankincense and Myrrh so that the students can experience the smells (Molly will come down early in the Christian Ed hour to give Bekah a tutorial on how to burn the incense). These gifts are an important part of the story, not only were they all very valuable, the Gospel writer uses them symbolically; gold was a gift fit for royalty, Frankincense for worship, and Myrrh as a material in embalming (prefiguring Jesus’ death for us). Give each student a bag and ask them to pack the items for their journey to Jesus.
(2.) Station 2: Journey to Jerusalem
If weather permits, take a walk outside (you can leave of the side door of the 3+4 year old room and enter back in through the foyer down stairs. Walk around the garden, or the playground. Tell the students that the Magi’s journey to Jerusalem would have been very long. They would have gone through forests, across lakes, and over hills. If it feels possible to do so, and if you have plenty of time, stop and have a brief conversation. Ask your students to share about a long journey on which they have been. (you may want to get into smaller groups, each led by a Sunday School teacher for these conversations). When your students arrived at their destination, how did they feel? Was their something exciting waiting for them? When your journey is finished, move to station 3.
(3.) Station 3: King Herod Crowns (K+1st grade room)
When the Mgi arrived in Jerusalem, they met with King Herod asked where they might find the one who was king of the Jews. Make paper crowns using shimmer cardstock. Cut a piece of shimmer cardstock paper in half with a jagged edge (chevron) so that each paper makes two crowns. Children can use the star crayons they packed in their bag to decorate the crown with shapes and symbols. When they are finished, the shorter sides can be taped together to form a crown.
If you have time, wonder together about the Magi’s encounter with King Herod. I wonder what Herod thought when the Magi inquired about the young king. I wonder why he sent them away. I wonder why Herod was worried about the baby Jesus being recognized as King of the Jews. I wonder what the Magi thought about King Herod.
(4.) Station 4: Finding the Christ Child (Christian Education Commons)
In the Christian Education Commons, you will find a manger (at that point it may have a baby Jesus), on a white underlay. Ask the children to remove the white candles from their bag and set them in front of the manger. An adult can light the candles. Invite the children to sit down in one large circle and remove their snack. While the children eat their snack, talk about the journey of the Magi, the gifts they brought on their journey, and what they found once they reached Jesus.
If you have time, wonder together about what the Magi discovered when they arrived where the star led them. I wonder if they Magi were surprised by where the star led them. I wonder if they were surprised that Jesus was a king. I wonder what kind of king they thought he was. The Magi brought things to Jesus that had great value. I wonder if there are any gifts that you can bring to Jesus.
If you have less time, or if your students are getting restless, invite them to gather around, finish their snack and hear the story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola in the book Joy to the World, a collection of Christmas stories that we have in the Christian Education book cabinet.
Close in Prayer