After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)
We started today with a coloring page. When I asked my little man who the men in the picture might be, he immediately answered Jesus. I think sometimes that we condition our kids to answer our questions in certain ways. So I was glad that today we would focus on a very different part of the Christmas story.
We read the chapter in his Storybook Bible about the wise men visiting Jesus. Then I pointed out to him the three wise men and the camel off to one side of our nativity. After that, we headed outside for a little scavenger hunt.
In our backyard I had hidden six presents with shiny red bows on top. He had to find the three presents fit for a king. Inside three of the boxes were big red X marks - these were not presents for Jesus. Inside the other three boxes he found a shiny rock (gold), a small container of oil (myrrh), and a cotton ball soaked in perfume (frankincense).
The story of the Magi is one of those stories that we don't teach as often and every time the boys hear the story, it's a little different. Did the Magi visit a baby Jesus or a few years later? Were there three wise men or more? Were the wise men kings or magicians or scholars? I don't know the answers to these questions, so I decided to tackle with my boys instead just the basic details of the story.
What does Magi mean? Most likely, the Magi were astrologers, men who studied the stars. So wise men is a great way to describe the Magi who came to visit the Jesus.
Why did the Magi visit Jesus? They studied the skies and saw the star of Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Then they studied the ancient prophesies and realized that the star meant the Messiah had been born. The Magi wanted to pay homage to the King; that means to bring him gifts and recognize his importance.
What gifts did the Magi bring Jesus? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We pulled out the presents we had hunted for earlier. The shiny rock was to look like gold. Frankincense is the perfume. And Myrrh is the oil. So as to not delve too deep into the interpretation of these gifts, I just explained that they were very expensive gifts reserved for someone very important.
I asked the boys if they'd like to receive these types of gifts for Christmas. My all-to-practical oldest son pointed out that although he wouldn't enjoy these gifts, they were valuable and he could sell them to buy something he'd really like. I think this got my point across ... the gifts given to Jesus were different because he was different. He wasn't just a normal kid who would really like an iPod touch and unlimited access to the app store. He was a King!
Take a tray of cookies to the fire station that services your home.Thank the fire fighters there for all they do to keep us safe.
For snack, we're dressing up some plain crackers with peanut butter and a ribbon of jelly to look just like the presents under our tree.
We Three Kings
Three Presents for Baby Jesus, by Joanne Bader
The Legend of Saint Nicholas, by Dandi Daley Mackall