The arrival of The Magi, or Wise men or Three Kings is traditionally celebrated twelve days after Christmas day on the 6 December.
The story is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 2. These men came from the east and having seen a new star in the sky they decided that the new star signified the birth of a new king. They travelled all the way to Jerusalem looking for this new king. But he wasn’t to be found there. The religious leaders are summoned by King Herod and they know that the promised king is to be found in Bethlehem. The Magi travel on and they find Jesus in the house with his mother. The baby is now a young toddler. The family are living in a house in Bethlehem and haven’t yet returned to Nazareth. Jesus has already been to Jerusalem where he has been taken to the temple. Simeon and Anna have both recognised the baby as the promised Saviour. (see Luke 2).
The Magi follow the star to the house where Jesus is and give him the gifts of gold, frankinsense and myrrh. Herod has given them instructions to then return to Jerusalem and tell exactly where the child is so he too can ‘worship him’. But The Magi are warned in a dream to go home by a different route. When Herod realises that they haven’t done as he said he has all the young boys of bethleham killed. Mary and Joseph escape with Jesus to Egypt and return to live in Nazareth when Herod dies.
To tell the story-
Have a star and either pitures of The Magi or models. The ones in the pictures are from a Nativity set. (You can refer to The magi as Wise men or kings. The Bible doesn’t say how many there were but we know that they gave three gifts.)
‘A long, long, long time ago some Wise Men (show pictures or models) were looking up at the dark night sky. (Everyone look up).
They could see the stars twinkling in the sky (make stars shapes with hands). ‘Look’ they said ‘there is a brand new star!’ (show star) ‘The new star means that a new King has been born. We must find him and go and give him gifts.’
The wise men packed their bags. (Pretend to be packing bags). They set off following the star.
They went to a big city. They didn’t find the new king there.
They went to a big palace. They didn’t find the new king there.
Where is he? The Wise men kept looking.
They followed the star to a small town with a small ordinary house and there was a little boy. He was the New king. His name is Jesus. The wise men bowed down and gave him their gifts. They had looked and looked for him and were so happy that they had found him.’
Older children could think about the word Epiphany and what it means. Although the Bible doesn’t use the word in this story it is the traditional word used to decribe the visit of The Magi. They could also make a timeline of events recorded in Luke and Matthew from the angels visit to Mary up to Luke 2:40 when the family return to Nazareth and settle. Both gospel writers include different parts of the Christmas Story.
Once they have a simple timeline they could plot the journeys taken by Mary and Joseph and, after he was born, Jesus and the Magi on a map.