Conversation Starters for Epiphany – Part 1
Read Matthew 2: 1-8
Around 2000 some years ago, give or take a couple of decades, some extra-ordinary things occurred in the heavens. I am trying to remember back to a science field trip to a planetarium from high school, so I may have the exact dates or happenings crossed; but to the best of my memory, between around 11 BCE and 4 BCE three incedible “signs in the heavens” occurred. A triple conjunction in the shape of a perfect equilateral triangle of the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, occurred in the constellation Pisces; a supernova was recorded, eclipsing all other stellar signs; shining both day and night; and Halley’s Comet burned across the sky, also visible both day and night.
We read that Magi from the East came looking for a new-born King. The Gospel of Matthew records that these dignitaries first came to King Herod, ruling monarch over the Jews at the time of their arrival, to ask “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
I have always wondered about the second sentence. “We saw his star in the east…” Was the star in the east of where they were, or were they in the east when they saw it? What star did they see? What heavenly signs did they interpret that led them on a life-changing journey to worship a new born king not even of their own cultural tradition(s)?
Herod, of course, was disturbed by this word. He was, after all, King of-or at least over-the Jewish people at the time; and his sons were already grown. King Herod “called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law” and inquired as to where the Messiah would be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they replied. Later, secretly Herod summons the Magi and finds out from them the exact time the star has appeared. “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him,” says the King.
Here are some questions for you and your study group:
Why was it important that Jesus be born in Bethlehem?
What did the prophet say about this? Which prophet?
Since the Magi were pagan astrologers, in your opinion why would they leave everything in their country to seek him out….and why did they want to worship him? Isn’t worship reserved for the gods/God?
What do you supposed they knew about this new-born King and how did they know what they knew?
How long do you think it took them to travel from where they observed all the heavenly signs before they arrived?
If you were to place yourself as a character in Matthew 2:1-8, who would you be?
In your journey toward God, how are you like the Magi? Unlike them?
Have you had to leave anything in order to follow Jesus?