Title: Adoration of the Magi
Subject: Infancy Narratives
Age: 8 to 13 years
Liturgical Time: Christmas or soon after
Doctrinal Content: Jesus' birth was an event looked for not only Jews, but Gentiles as well. God used a star as a sign to signal the Magi to Bethlehem. God's plan of salvation is for all people, everywhere, and has been so since the beginning of time.
Direct Aim: This lesson intends to lift up the visit and adoration of the Magi to the baby Jesus in order to ponder the identity of the baby, who receives such mysterious gifts.
Indirect Aims: The indirect aims include for the students to enter more fully into the mysterious love of God as we ponder the Incarnation; to more fully appreciate Jesus and Who He is (human, divine, king for all); to adore Jesus as the Magi did and to be inspired by the faith of the Magi in taking such a long journey. Other aims include deepening our celebrations of Christmas, adding to our prayer life, and preparing for the Flight into Egypt. This lesson also hopes to further explore the image of light in regards to Jesus, further our understanding of the geography of Israel, to lay a foundation of Paschal mystery that is revealed through the gifts of the Magi, and finally, the child will begin to look, listen, wait and respond with joy!
Sources: Matthew 2:1-12
Materials for the Lesson:
Diorama box of Joseph and Mary's house, or an icon of the Nativity
Figures of Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, three Magi,
Small gifts: chest of gold, urn of myrrh, pot of frankincense
Small yellow star on a stand, to be moved as necessary during the story
White Scripture booklet of Matthew 2:1-12
Candle, matches, snuffer
Map of Israel
The Lesson Plan:
Gather and settle the children. Remind the children that we are in the season of Christmas (or after the feast of the Nativity, as applicable). Tell them there is one more story to listen to about the birth of Jesus. Review the geography of Israel, especially Bethlehem and Jerusalem, explaining that the Magi came from far away.
Define and explain the following:
Magi: wealthy men who were not Jewish like Jesus.
Herod: an evil king who did not want to hear about Jesus as King
Homage: to pay great respect to a King
Light a candle and invite the children to listen as you read the scripture slowly and solemnly from the Bible. Introduce the material by saying, "I have some material to help us listen to this story of the Magi who came from so far away to pay homage to Jesus. Homage means worship." Introduce and name each piece of the materials.
Ask the children whether they heard that the Magi brought gifts. "They were unusual gifts for a baby. Listen closely and see if you can hear what the gifts are." Read the story again, moving the figures as appropriate. The star moves to the top of a box at the appropriate time. Show the Magi moving away in a different direction from where they came. Reflect with the children. "Let's think about what happened. What happened first?" Review the sequence of events in the story, explaining it point by point:
The Magi were watching and waiting; then they saw a star and went to Jerusalem.
They saw Herod the king and asked him where the baby king was.
Herod asked his people and found out the baby was in Bethlehem.
Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem and asked them to return to Jerusalem to tell him exactly where the baby was.
The Magi saw the star and felt happy because they had been looking and waiting. Bring up the fact that it was a special star. It is important to make the point, "How did the Magi know this baby was born?" God's light must shine very bright, even beyond the land of Israel.
Ask "What happened when the Magi got to Jesus in Bethlehem?" They paid homage.
Ask the children, "Then what did they do?" They gave their gifts.
Ask the children to name the gifts.
For older children, you can talk about the meaning of the gifts:
Gold: Gold is for a king, and Jesus is a King.
Frankincense: Jesus is a priest, and priests use incense.
Myrrh: Myrrh is for anointing corpses, and Jesus will die on earth.
You can compare and contrast the Magi and shepherds. For example, the Magi traveled far, and the shepherds were nearby. The Magi were wealthy; the shepherds were not. The Magi were not Jewish, the shepherds were. The shepherds were told first about the birth of Jesus and the Magi visited later, most likely when Jesus was a toddler.
End the presentation by snuffing the candle and restoring the material. Close with a prayer and invite the children to work.
Work with the material directly
Art or prayer response
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.