Week #1 is Sunday, January 6, 2019 – Narrative Lectionary Story: Matthew 2:1-23
Theme: Why does God go to great lengths to save this one baby? The truth of Jesus’ story has a difficult beginning, but throughout his life Jesus will enter right into the difficulties of humanity again and again. What is your story? Has there been crisis, difficulty, an unexpected invitation, an unmerited forgiveness? Who went to great lengths to bring you here today? Why Jesus? Because Jesus is…
Video Intro: Welcome to the Why Jesus Project! This video is a promo to share with your congregation on the different ways we will engage “Why Jesus?” during the Epiphany Season – from January 6 thru March 3. Check it out!
Readers Theater of Matthew 2 that can be used in worship instead of the regular reading!
Sunday School Curriculum: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request the curriculum from Epiphany, January 6 thru Transfiguration, March 3. BUT check out this Cross+Generational Educational Event special for Epiphany, January 6. There will be another cross+gen event for Transfiguration for March 3rd.
Music is has been written especially for the Why Jesus? Project, but here are a few suggestions:
- Gathering or Opening Hymn #302 – As With Gladness Men of Old
- Hymn of the Day #522 – As We Gather at Your Table or Blessed to Be a Blessing (Why Jesus)
- Communion Hymn – Behold, I Stand at the Door (Why Jesus)
- Sending or Closing Hymn #301 – Bright and Glorious
Here are Music Selections for Each Week
Other Sermon Ideas:
- Social Justice: The Holy Family as displaced refugees. Doctors Without Borders has videos of refugee camps. “Forced From Home” was an interactive event that visited the Twin Cities in Minnesota last September. The event highlighted the forces that can drive people to leave a home they love and what it takes to find a new home. What comes to mind? Why Jesus? Because Jesus is a refugee.
- Three Kings Day tradition in Madrid, Spain is bigger than the gift-giving day of Christmas! There are many parades with camels, kings, and travelers from afar. What if our sanctuaries held parades down the middle aisle carrying wealthy travelers? What might they bring? What if the offering on January 6 was not only the regular tithe but food for the food shelf as our “gifts?” Instead of donuts this day, what about a King’s Cake? These cakes often have a hidden king figure inside! What comes to mind? Why Jesus? Because Jesus is a gift.
- How do we understand bowing? To bow is become vulnerable. Bowing is a posture of defenselessness and eye contact is minimal. What if we invited those who come forward to pay homage to the newborn baby king as part of holy communion? To do a reverent bow before coming to the altar? How does this story transform our lives today to know that these wealthy travelers paid homage, bowed down to a poor child, whose life they knew was in danger? What comes to mind? Why Jesus? Because Jesus is our king.
- Jesus is linked to the “I AM” statements of God in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament. Check out W. Paul Jones’ book entitled Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rhythms of Christian Belief . This book helps us answer the questions of “Who do you say that I am?” or “Who is Jesus to you?” – where we find out that the answer we tell is influenced by the kind of Jesus we need. What comes to mind? Why Jesus? Because Jesus is.
- Check out this video which combines Home By Another Way by James Taylor paired with the close-captioned clips from “The Nativity Story.”
Props: Nativity scene with wise men. Place the wise men on the other side of your worship space from the manger scene.
Say: Welcome to our children’s time! This has been a busy season, hasn’t it? What holiday did we just finish celebrating? [Christmas.] That’s right—Christmas. How many of you have a nativity scene like this in your home during Christmas? Allow children to look at the nativity scene. Who do you have in your scene? Animals, shepherds, maybe an angel, Mary and Joseph and now the baby Jesus … hmm, who are we missing?
We are missing the wise men! They must still be traveling to visit the baby Jesus. Let’s go find the wise men and help them travel to the manger. (Take the group of children to where you have the wise men on the other side of the worship space. As you “travel” with the wise men back to the manger, continue to talk.) The wise men traveled for a very long time to come and meet the baby Jesus. Then, when they finally got to where Jesus was, King Herod wanted them to tell him where Jesus was so that Herod could kill Jesus. But the wise men knew better, and didn’t tell the king where Jesus was. Can you imagine, traveling through the desert, following a star, facing an angry and powerful king, all just to go see a little baby? Arrive at the manger and add wise men.
We all have stories about our journey to meet Jesus. Sometimes, those stories are kind of dark and scary. Sometimes we are unsure about what decisions to make. But Jesus is always leading us. Why Jesus? Because Jesus simply IS …is always with us.
Let’s pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for your birth, and for the wise men who risked so much to be with you. Help us to know that you guide us as we journey, too. Amen.
———————————————————————————————————————————What is the Why Jesus Project? Check out the FAQ on Why Jesus? Home Page.