Reply to "MISC Workshop Ideas and Resources for teaching about the Wisemen, Magi, Star of Bethlehem"

Wise Men

Art / Video Workshop

Summary:

They will learn about this through discussion, examination of maps, watching clips from "The Nativity Story" and by creating an Epiphany Star.

Scripture:

"When Jesus, therefore, was born in Bethlehem of Judah, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him." (Matt. 2:1-2)

Objectives:

  • The students will learn about who the Wise Men were, how they knew about the star and the star phenomenon. 
  • They will learn that the Wise Men's role in the Nativity Story is to demonstrate that Jesus Christ came to all nations and that even the cosmos validated the divinity of Jesus. 

Supplies List:

  • paper, compasses, crayons, baby or mineral oil, cotton balls, paper towels, scissors (for Epiphany Star Art Project)
  • photos illustrating the constellations
  • Map showing terrain Wise Men would have traveled over
  • Wise Man Chart Poster (on Posterboard or chalkboard)
  • Video - "The Nativity Story", Word Entertainment, 2006, 794043106682.

Leader Preparation:

  • Familiarize yourself with the lesson script and the information about the constellations.
  • Make a sample of the project so you can show the kids.  And also figure out/test the procedure to make sure you have everything you need as well as the most effective and efficient way to explain it to the kids. FIGURE OUT IF IT'LL BE BEST TO HAVE THE COMPASS CIRCLES ALREADY ON THE PAPER OR IF IT'S SIMPLE ENOUGH TO HAVE THE KIDS DO IT.  For the Sprouts have the star already made on the paper.
  • Collect all the necessary materials.
  • Practice the cues for the movie.
  • Have a diagram drawn on the Chalkboard or make a poster.  You can have the chart filled in ahead of time or add the information as you go over it. 

Wise Men

Magi

Kings

The Wise Men had education; knew science, math, how to read and write, how to make calculations, etc. 

"Magi" comes from the same word we get  "magic” from.  Because of their education and wisdom, ancient people believed that the Magi had special powers, that they could interpret dreams and prophecies for example. 

And some people think the Wise Men were Kings of different countries.  They could have been, but if they weren't the actual Kings they represented their King. 

 

Most Pharaohs and Kings would have Wise men who worked for them to help them understand things or give them advice. 

They were what we might call “Astrologers.” In biblical times astrology was thought of like a “science,” I.e. “how the world works.”  Astrologers studied the positions of the stars and planets in relation to each other and then interpreted what they found.  To ancient people, this interpretation seemed like magic.

These Kings were from the "Far East".  They represented countries like Persia,and India.  These countries would have different religions, different rules and laws, different ways of life.

Wisemen were highly respected.  If they said that this all happened then people would believe them.  They were very educated about the Hebrew Old Testament Prophecies.  They were religious seekers as well as scientists.

Astrology is the belief  that the alignment and motion of celestial bodies signaled events  

This is important in the story to show that the message of Jesus Christ (God with us) was meant for all people in all nations.

 



Presentation

Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the students warmly and invite them to sit along one side of the table facing the bulletin board and chalk board.  If there are kids you haven't met yet please make sure you learn their names and they learn yours.

Scripture reading:  Explain to the kids that the story of the birth of Jesus is written in more than one book of the Bible.  The story about the Wise Men is written in the Gospel of Matthew.  Read Matthew 2: 1-2

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Say: There have been several versions for what we call "The Wise Men".  Aside from "Wise Men" they have been called "The Kings" and "The Magi".

Ask:  Which do you think is the correct name? (Let students answer)

Say: Actually, all those names are correct.  In Biblical times people did not have schooling the way we do today.   Most people didn't know how to read or write and knew only the basic facts of math--just what they needed to do their jobs.  In those days people didn't understand a lot about how the world or nature works.  There were a lot of superstitions and they explained things they didn't understand by giving power to different gods and goddesses.  If they needed rain they'd pray to the rain god, etc.

Chart--either refer to the chart or fill in the chart

The Wise Men, though,  were learned men.   They had education; knew science, math, how to read and write, how to make calculations, etc.  Most Pharaohs and Kings would have Wise, Learned men who worked for them to help them understand things or give them advice.  They had a lot of "Wisdom" which made them men who were wise, or "Wise Men."

The Wise Men were also "Magi"--Magi comes from the word "Magic."  Because of their education and wisdom, people believed that the Magi had special powers.  They could interpret dreams, for example.  They were Astrologers. Nowadays when we think of astrology most people think of horoscopes.  Many people think that astrology is something you don't take seriously.  But in biblical times astrology was an important science.  Astronomy observes the stars and learns about them by watching them.  Astrology, though, studies the positions of the stars in relation to each other and then interprets what they find.  To the people, this interpretation seemed like magic.

And some people think the Wise Men were Kings of different countries.  They could have been, but if they weren't the actual Kings they represented their King.

Following the Star of Bethlehem:

Ask: What does the Bible say the Wise Men did?  (They followed the star to Bethlehem.)  What was the star like? (very bright, stayed over one place) What do you think made the Wise Men think this star was special? (Let them answer, but they may not really know. Several stars and planets came together to make one huge, super bright star)

Say:  There is a man by the name of John Webb, Jr. who has done a lot of research.  He has made maps of the stars that show how this actually, really did happen.  John Webb claims that several things happened at the same time.  The positions of the stars create different shapes.  We call them "Constellations".  Constellations are usually separated from each other in the sky.  But at this point in time two constellations came together at the same time, one on top of the other.  This happens only every 40,000,000 (Forty million) years.

The Seal of Solomon and the Grand Cross were both present at the same time--one on top of the other.

Seal of Solomon.  This shape is called the Seal of Solomon because King Solomon had a ring with two triangles or pyramids.  One points up and the other points down.  The triangles are surrounded by a circle.

Grand Cross is another constellation.  The Grand Cross is a diamond shape.  When Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Mars are in a specific relationship to each other this diamond shape is formed. 

In this picture you can see the 4 super bright planets that are connected by a blue-ish line.  That is the Grand Cross.

So, according to this man, this is the way the stars were actually aligned.

The Wise Men kept looking at the stars and saw that this was going to happen.  They also knew what the Old Testament had said about prophecies and the birth of Jesus.  So they knew that it was going to be a fantastic astrological event but also that it had important meaning.  As the time grew closer for the planets to get into these positions the Wise Men decided to travel to Judea to see if the prophecy was really true--would they find the baby Jesus?

The fact that the Wisemen decided to actually travel to Judea is amazing because they lived so far away.  They had to travel across deserts and over mountains--some people say this would have taken months if not years.

Map: Show the map of the land over which the Wise Men would have traveled. (I made a map that was 8 1/2" X 20" of the middle, near and far east)

Show The Movie Clips:

The Nativity Story is a movie that was made in 2006.  It's a pretty accurate depiction of the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus in the time period.  There are several scenes of the Wise Men in this story.  We are going to watch some of them.

Outline: The Nativity Story movie (Wisemen section) approx. 13 mins.:

  • 15:10-16:16  Wise men receive the scriptural prophecy and discuss it
  • 27:03- 28:14  Wise men look at the stars in the mirror of water.  They discuss the convergence of Jupiter (the father planet), Venus (the mother planet) and a star called "Sharuh"--a Babylonian name meaning "King" 
  • 30:29-  32:31  planning the journey, going over the map
  • 40:06-41:08  Journey across the desert
  • 49:36-50:04 Across the desert with voice-over of prophecy
  • 1:03:52-1:04:27  Taking measurements of the stars
  • 1:14:27-1:16:00  Arriving in Jerusalem, meeting with Herod
  • 1:18:10 -1:18:37 The stars converge
  • 1:21:07-1:21:24  Watching the star
  • 1:25:34-1:29:45 Arriving in Bethlehem and leaving

Movie Discussion:

Have the students tell you what they noticed about the Wise Men and their journey. Some points to mention:

  • The instruments they used (the triangle and the pendulum)
  • The way they looked at the stars by using a pool of water as a mirror.
  • The numbers of camels and other people in their caravan--it was not just the 3 men
  • They way the movie shows the planets aligning --going from 3 into one super bright constellation
  • Their race and ethnicity

Activity - Creating A Star

The art project we used is "Epiphany Stars" by Martha Donley.  Directions can be found on Sunday School Network link.

Cathy adds about this art project. 

After the kids have finished their coloring and outlining with the sharpie, use the mineral/baby oil and cotton balls to wipe the oil on the front and back of the star.  Then place between paper towels to absorb the excess oil. This technique mimics what happens with the two constellations: the crayons are one substance that is applied.  The oil is another substance that is applied.  By themselves they aren't that impressive.  When you use both the crayon and the oil  the drawing becomes much more vibrant and intense.


 

A lesson written by rotation.org member Cat Blue

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Epiphany Star photo copyright Martha Donley (christiancrafters.com/craft_epiphany_stars.html), used as an educational reference.


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