Dennis Sepper, Rosemont, MN

Warm-up Question

Have you ever looked for something you lost and found it in a very unlikely place? 

Home for the Holidays

Raleigh, North Carolina, December 17, 2018 – Twin sisters A’nina and Zoe Pasco, members of their middle school’s cheer squad, thought it odd that there so many reporters at the school’s basketball game.  Then at halftime when the school mascot came onto the court, the dolphin looked a bit taller than they remembered.  What they didn’t know was that their father, a U.S. Air Force Sergeant, was the reason for both of those unusual observations.

Finally, the mascot removed the costume head and the twins couldn’t believe their eyes.  A’nina and Zoe dashed into their father’s waiting arms (fins?)  The reaction of the twins was worth the whole surprise which the school administration approved.  To see the twins’ reaction, follow the link below for a video of the reunion.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you like being surprised?  What’s the best unexpected surprise you ever experienced?
  • Why are unexpected surprises so special?  (Outside of the obvious fact that they are unexpected!)
  • Have you ever been the person doing the surprising?  How did the reaction of the person you surprised make you feel?  Was it worth all the secrecy and planning?

Epiphany of Our Lord

Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

January 6th is the festival of the Epiphany of Our Lord on the church year calendar.  It is the 12th day, the last day, of the Christmas season.  The day is remembered as the day the wise men arrived to pay homage to the baby Jesus.  The gospel writer Matthew includes the story to remind us that Jesus is not only the ruler and savior of Israel but of the entire world.  The wise men represent all the gentile world as they come to worship Jesus.  

When the “wise men from the East” saw the star announcing the birth of Jesus, they did the most logical thing; they headed to Jerusalem, the capital city, and to the palace of King Herod.  They were looking for the “child who has been born king of the Jews” and it made perfect sense to them that the king would be born in Jerusalem. However, when they arrived and asked King Herod about the birth, it seems Herod knew nothing about it.  Herod had to call together the priests and scribes to ask them where the child was to be born.  It was a surprise to everyone there that it was noted the child was to be born in Bethlehem, a city far more insignificant than Jerusalem.  It is also worth noting that while the foreign wise men knew of the birth, the religious leaders had missed the clues that Jesus had been born.

With this new information, the wise men set off to Bethlehem.  The star reappeared and guided them to the place where Jesus was.  Matthew tells us that the wise men were overwhelmed with joy that they had found Jesus in this place they didn’t expect.  Once there the wise men offered Jesus gifts befitting a king…gold, frankincense and myrrh.

So often we look for Jesus in places that seem to make sense…in church, in the Bible, when we are doing our devotions.  The wise men remind us that sometimes Jesus shows up in unexpected places and surprises us with God’s presence.  When we discover Jesus in those unexpected places we too can be overwhelmed with joy and we can return our praise to God.

Discussion Questions

  • Can you think of a time when you ran across Jesus or God in an unexpected place (outside the church and the Bible)?  Where was that place and how did you feel when you sensed Jesus’ presence?
  • If you were giving a gift to Jesus like the wise men did, what would that gift be?  Why did you chose that gift?
  • There are many traditions surrounding the wise men and their story that are not mentioned in Matthew’s account.  Read the gospel again carefully and answer the following questions:
  1. How many wise men were there?  Tradition says there were three
  2. Does Matthew tell us they were kings as is often depicted and sung about?
  3. Where do the wise men find the baby Jesus?  In the stable and the manger?

Activity Suggestion

There is a very old tradition surrounding the day of Epiphany of blessing one’s house or the church building for the new year ahead.  Take a piece of chalk and over the door of your house or the church (please get permission first!) write the following; 20 + CMB + 19.  In this inscription you will see the new year, 2019, two crosses and the letters CMB which stand for the traditional names of the wise men, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  Once you have written the inscription you can pray this prayer from Sundays and Seasons (Copyright © 2018 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.)

O God, you revealed your Son to all people by the shining light of a star. We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence. May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light, and your peace our benediction; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Closing Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for revealing Jesus as the Messiah to the wise men showing us that your love, grace, mercy, and peace are meant for all people of every nation.  By the power of the Holy Spirit assist us to share the good news of Jesus with everyone we meet through word and deed.  We ask this in your most holy name.  Amen.