Today is the day

Today is the day to proclaim Epiphany! (Even though it was commemorated in church last Sunday, today, January 6th, is the officially marked day.) You may finally move your magi nativity pieces into their final resting spot — assuming that they’ve been traveling over your tablelands until now.

Three wise men approach a nativity scene

Epiphany serves as a reminder that God has come among us as a human being – God with us as Jesus. Celebrations of Epiphany traditionally are tied to the arrival of the wise men to worship Jesus.

These magi have always fascinated me. Their courage! Their fortitude! They likely traveled a thousand miles from their home in Persia or Arabia, all the way to Bethlehem — guided by an unusual star in the sky.

They followed this star, not knowing where they would end up.

Can we do that?

Start off on a journey not knowing where we are headed?

Graphic says - The wise step out in faith

How about your family’s faith journey?
Or even your own personal walk with God?

Do you know where your journey will take you?
Do you know what you will find along the way?

Will you step out in faith… to grow your faith?

Your family is depending on you to take the lead.

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Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives. I created the starry sky graphic from various Public Domain clip art.

How goes your journey?

This entry was originally posted when our kids were talking about the wise men, however it applies to all year ’round! What are you doing to further your faith growth?

Painting by James Tissot, in the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I find it amazing that the wise men made such a long, arduous journey to worship Jesus. Previously I had pondered questions that the wise men may have asked as they prepared for their trip. Such as…

  • Where would the star lead them?
  • What would they find?
  • How would they be received?
  • And, are we there yet?

Wait a minute! This sounds like an adventure someone else (whom we’ve recently studied about) made to an unknown destination. In fact, it may well be that they both came from the same area!

Both were Gentiles (not Jewish) at the time God summoned them. Neither knew exactly where they were going when they left their homeland. Both obeyed God and were instructed by the stars. (Abraham: Genesis 15:5, the magi: Matthew 2:2). (Did you figure out that I was thinking of Abraham & Sarah?)

Both parties chose to venture into the unfamiliar.

Speaking of an uncharted odyssey…

How goes your family faith journey?

Does it feel like you don’t know where your faith walk will lead you, or what you’ll find along the way, or even if you are on the right path? Join the wise men! Here are some hints about how to stay the course on your family faith journey.

a starParticipate in rituals.
Celebrating family rituals is a great way to grow in faith together. Rituals and traditions are repeated activities that help family members develop a sense of belonging. Make time for rituals that connect us to God: Saying table grace, bedtime prayers, daily Bible reading… Add a new ritual! What occasions can you make special (besides the usual holidays and birthdays)? It’s not too late to start an Advent ritual.

a child holds a newly created Advent wreathMom with two girls look at a Bible

a star Worship together.
If kids don’t experience worship as a child, what will cause them to want to participate as an adult?

A family worships togetherChildren have a time with the pastor at church

a starServe others.
The family that serves together, stays together!

Families participate in a service project

10 kids ages 10 and under dug a 30 foot drainage ditch

It’s not too late to consider joining us on our spring Appalachia Mission trip.

a star Watch for a shining “star” (or two or three).
Notice signs that lead us to think of Jesus.

The sun sets over the lakeChristmas eve service

a starCultivate your personal faith.
Don’t you want your kids to “do as you do?” Take time to build your own faith. Set aside a regular time to commune with God in prayer, read the Bible, or join a class at church.

a blue line

As your family traverses its way along your faith journey, know that God is our God and God is always with us!

Photo credits:
Painting of traveling magi by James Tissot, in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Star from the public domain via
Other photos from my archives or from from the families of FUMC. Appalachia photo copyright, Richard Rupp Photography; used with permission.

Who was doing the seeking?

In our current Advent Rotation, we are learning about the wise men, who upon discovering an unusual new star, traversed from afar, looking for the new king. (In those days an unfamiliar star = a royal event; all great kings had a star associated with their birth.)

Arriving in Jerusalem these magi created quite a commotion with their inquiry…

A photo of the Milky Way Galaxy with the words from Matthew 2:2

These wise men were on a determined hunt for this new king. We don’t know how far they had traveled, or what sort of difficulties they came up against; they persevered.

But who was seeking whom?

Who got these magi started on their quest?
Who put the star up in the sky?
Who re-hung the star after their stop in Jerusalem? (Matthew 2:9)
Who guided them to find Jesus?

This seeking seems to be going both ways! Seeking Jesus is a beneficial practice, but what about considering that Christ also seeks us?

How would it benefit us to notice signs of God leading us to Jesus?

A friend offers assistance at the right moment.

A child asks a pointed question.

A word heard, sparks thoughts.

If we’re not looking, will we notice?

Talk with your family about God seeking us. Here are some questions to guide your discussion. Perhaps ask a few questions during a car ride. For an easy to print out version, click here.

Star clipartRead: Matthew 2:1-2.
Ask: What questions do you suppose the wise men asked before they started their journey? (How far will we have to travel? Will the star continue to guide us?)
Why do you suppose the magi left everything to go looking for Jesus?
I wonder how the star had that much pull in their lives?
Can you imagine God in his wonderous power, hanging a bright star as a sign to the wise men?
What was God hoping these wise men would do?
What has been your “star” leading you to Jesus?

Star clipartRead: Matthew 2:1-8
Ask: When Herod heard about the magi asking about “one born king of the Jews,” he called together the chief priests and religious teachers. What did he ask them?
What was their response?
How do you suppose Herod really felt about this “new king?”
How come these religious leaders didn’t act interested in Jesus?

Star clipartRead: Matthew 2:1-12
Ask: When the wise men saw Jesus, what did they do?
Do we worship Jesus like the magi did?
What is different?
We could say that the wise men were “wise” because they went looking for Jesus. How would we describe a not-so-wise person? (Too busy to look? Not willing to try hard enough?)
How could you help someone become “wise?”
Contemplate how the magi packed for their trip. How does a wise person “pack” for Christmas? (Plenty of patience?)

God loves you. He seeks your love in return!

Photo credits:
Our Milky Way Galaxy original photo by C. Malin of ESO, made available for use under a Creative Commons 3.0 License. Altered image to add Bible passage, by Carol Hulbert at Flickr.
A slightly altered (coloration, size) clipart star, from the Public Domain via

How many wise men? And other misguided notions…

Happy Advent! This is the perfect season to bring faith conversations to your family, and this blog will help. To ensure you don’t miss a thing (usually only one post a week, on our current story) subscribe over on the right. Enter your e-mail address to have posts sent directly to your inbox.

For family Advent ideas see this post.

When kids experience Workshop Rotation Model Christian education, this means they are learning and having fun at the same time! Scroll down to learn more about the workshops we used for an Advent “Rotation” on the Wise Men.

Wise men on camels ponder a star in the sky

Because Christmas happens once a year, each Advent we focus on a different aspect of the Christmas story. In the past we have covered Jesus’ birth through the eyes of the prophet Isaiah, the birth from his mother’s perspective, from the point of view of the shepherds, and the overall details and sequence of the Christmas story. This December we target the key role of the wise men. Read about our story in Matthew 2:1-12. You may be surprised to discover inaccuracies in some of your long-held views about these travelers!

  • In the Art Workshop students learned about the wise men, the magi, who followed a star to seek Jesus. They created a special star for their tree or their window at home. Also they heard about the church calendar and the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
  • In the Cooking Workshop students used some of their senses to explore the gifts of the wise men. They made no-bake cookies with a special scent and discussed gifts (the kind you can’t buy) that they give to others.
  • In the Video Workshop… one year students watched the animated video, The Very First Noel. They needed to watch carefully. Does the movie stray from the Bible story of the wise men? Do the wise men show up at the correct time? In a different year our older kids watched a presentation on what modern-day astronomers think about the Star of Bethlehem.
  • In the Games Workshop… one year students played games like Concentration and Pictionary to test their knowledge of the details of the story, but then their games were interrupted! They became “refugees” when they were “kicked out” of their workshop room. A reminder that Jesus and his family were refugees (Matthew 2:13-15) and that we are on a journey to seek Jesus.) In a different year our game tested our story knowledge by playing Bible Bowling. Some story facts may surprise you!
  • One year we used a Storytelling Workshop where kids heard and interacted with the book Mary’s Treasure Box. They experience touching and smelling items mentioned from the story. Then they played the “left-right” game to focus on story details. And took home a small box with many of the same elements. They could retell the story!

Why are we doing different workshops for the different times we’ve taught this story? There are several reasons including:

  • We used the Rotation Model for a lot of years! Stories repeated every six years.
  • Our focus for a Rotation changed (we’ve gained new understanding!)
  • We know our kids. We know what will, and won’t work with them.
  • We’ve got a new idea! Usually something we gained from!

Explore more about Rotation Model goodness! Where many of the lessons described above can be found in the entirety.

Photo credits:
“A Star in the East” by W. L. Taylor, 1900. in the Public Domain.