WEEK OF JANUARY 7, 2018

Ephesians 3:1-12
 
In Ephesians chapter 2 St. Paul mentions the mystery that God had revealed to us through Jesus Christ. In today’s lesson, St. Paul expands on the nature of that mystery. The common-held belief of the Jews of that time was that they were God’s chosen people, what they had forgotten was that they were to be a beacon and messenger to the whole world. Today, St. Paul states that God had given him a revelation in order for him to appreciate the mystery of Jesus: that God intended right from the beginning to save all peoples; Gentiles were fellow heirs and members of the same body and partakers of the same promises in Jesus. Even though God had made clear in his promise to Abraham that he would be the (faith) father of all nations, this reality had not hit home with God’s people. In fact, when Jesus showed up and associated with ‘outsiders’ he was rejected and mocked for this. Paul reminds us what a true mystery really is: something that was clouded or unclear that is now made clear or revealed.  
Jesus is for ALL people. The body of believers are called to make this melting pot approach known to the entire universe.

Read Ephesians 3: 1-12

Head
The gospel was pretty radical for Paul’s day. Is the gospel still radical today? How?

Does the church do this well? What could we do better?

Heart
Who are the hard people in our world to love?

How does the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus influence the church to act towards them?

Hands
Who is a person you could show love to? How will you do that?


Matthew 2:1-12

St. Matthew records for our benefit the revealing of the Messiah beyond the borders of Israel with Wisemen coming from the East. The reading starts with a reminder that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great. This was a king who was so paranoid that someone would replace him that he murdered anyone he was suspicions of, including his own wife, some of his sons, and a number of other relatives. So when “wise men”—which would have been foreign seekers of knowledge, much like professors or researchers today, came claiming they saw the king of the Jews’ star rise, King Herod’s paranoia went into overdrive. Amazingly, the Jewish leaders know exactly where he would be (prophecy from Micah 5:2). Herod tries to trick the wisemen to return and tell him where this ‘king’ is so he can also go and worship him. The star then leads the wise men south to Bethlehem and to the exact home where Jesus was. (This story takes place within two years of Jesus birth, before Herod killed all babies two years and younger to get rid of this ‘king’). The Wise men bowed down to worship him, offering costly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, something that is done only to royalty. Even Gentiles help to announce and celebrate the King of Kings!

Read Matthew 2:1-12

Head
What is the most amazing part of this story to you?

What does this teach or remind you about God?

Read on in the text (13-23). Take time to share how this makes you feel about living in our world and God’s care and provision.

Heart 
Take time to talk about the three different responses to Jesus in v.1-12. Wisemen, Herod, and Jewish leaders. How do we see the same responses today?

Who do you know in any of these categories? Take time to pray for them?

Hands
Make plans this week to bake an Epiphany (King) cake. Read this article and talk about how traditions help us remember important dates and events.

**Note: Bake a box cake and an item in it to represent Christ. The important part is to celebrate together that Jesus is ‘revealed’ to the world. Have each person look through their piece to see if Jesus is in there. (you can bake a smaller cake or cupcakes too). When you find it, take time to thank God for His revealing of Himself in such a sweet way. Items you can use: bean, small cross, ring, marble, lego figurine.