January 1, 2023 – Epiphany of The Lord (January 6) Connectional Ministries
Do you recognize the similarity of the generosity of the Magi in your own generosity?
A Moment for Mission
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ ” – Matthew 2: 1-2, NRSV
Most of us have heard the story of the Magi who traveled from some far off place in the East to find the King of the Jews who had been born. They followed a mysterious heavenly light that went before them to guide them. They trusted and believed the journey was important.
The Wise Men wanted to honor the King and so they brought gifts. They brought their most valuable and symbolic treasures to present to the Newborn King. The Magi gave what was precious to them. They gave something that was dear to them. They gave their treasured possessions. Gifts that traveled extreme distances for a divine purpose.
Some may not recognize the similarity of our generosity compared to the Magi’s generosity. Like the Wise Men, we give to God because he is worthy and our connection with Christ is infinite. Also like the Magi, our gifts can travel extreme distances for a divine purpose. We may never know just how our gifts to our local church and various ministries will affect someone’s life for good, but we recognize they have a heavenly goal.
The United Methodist Church acknowledges all people are connected through Jesus Christ. Fundamentally, we are a connectional element working for the God of ALL God’s people. Connectional giving – all of us giving together – is the fuel we use to achieve ministry. It enables us to share the concerns of many people. The connection is grounded in our need to give in order to be spiritually healthy, complete children of God.
Ask yourself how your gifts can be put to use in a wounded world so in need of God's love. Question how you can you present your gifts to the King. Recognize we work better together and that we continue to do more good in the world than most realize. Research all the ministries your local church and conference is accomplishing and get involved in supporting the various ministries of the United Methodist Church.
Do any of your remember the story of the Wise Men? I think there was something about a star...do you remember this story? (See how much they can share)
Have you ever looked at the stars to see how they twinkle and shine at night? Back a long time ago, the stars were much brighter than they are today because there were no outside lights or flashlights like we have today. The Wise Men saw a really bright star in the sky and they followed it. The star was so bright it helped them to see the way at night and to find the child named Jesus. Who is Jesus again? Yes! He is our King! The Wise Men knew Jesus Christ would a very good king who would be the light of the world.
Did you know God still sends us stars to find Jesus? They may not be stars that twinkle at night, but they are star-like people. These star-like people are your parents, your Sunday School teachers, your pastor, your friends and so many other good people who care about you. They tell us how Jesus has been good to them and why they love Him so very much. They tell you stories about Jesus and how He loves ALL of us. Do you know anyone like that? (Pass out a cut out star shape to each child)
Can you write the name of a star-like person on this paper star? Then give the star to that person so and tell them they are just like the stars the Wise Men used to find Jesus... and then thank them.
Children’s prayer: Jesus, you were born to show us the way of love. We thank you for the lights of the stars in the sky and for the light of the people who are stars for us. Amen
Loving God, as we celebrate Epiphany, encourage us to remember our gifts and to set our hope on Christ. Jesus came to bring light into that darkness and into our darkness. As we bring our tithes and offering to you this day, transform them into light for the hungry, for the hopeless, for the forgotten, and for the oppressed. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: God of glorious surprises: Like the wise men sent by Herod, we, too, come as searchers for a glimpse of your presence. As were the people in those days, we are surprised that we find you not in a palace but in a stable, surrounded by a family of poor refugees and worshiped by the lowly shepherds. Like them, our gifts from our wealth seem simultaneously too material and woefully shabby and outshined by what you have given us. Just the same, use our gifts for the work of justice, mercy, and compassion—as would befit the Savior who sleeps in a manger. It’s in is holy name, we pray. Amen.
As we celebrate Epiphany, we remember the journey and gifts of the Magi. While we may not recognize the similarity of our generosity compared to the generosity of the Magi, we need to discern we both give out of our love for God and for His divine purpose.
Most are familiar with the mission of The United Methodist Church: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Together, we reach this goal through our spiritual, physical and financial gifts. Our connectional giving is grounded in our need to give in order to be spiritually healthy, complete children of God.
As we make our resolutions for the upcoming year, let us consider how we can offer ourselves to a wounded world and present our gifts to the King. Together we can seek out and support ministries in our community and around the world through the connectional ministries in The United Methodist Church. Let’s continue to grow by reaching out into the world.