“We Three Kings/Bell Carol,” arr. Foncannon
“Songs of the Season,” arr. Keveren
Eternal God, you have made yourself known to people of all ages, all times, and all walks of life. As the magi were overjoyed when they saw the star, so may we be filled with joy as you reveal yourself to us this morning. Amen.
Song: “Open Our Eyes, Lord” SNC 80
“O Word of God Incarnate” PsH 279
“Open the Eyes of My Heart” CSW 7
Jesus said, “If you seek me,
you will find me.”
We are only able to find him
because he reveals himself to us.
He reveals himself to us
because he wants to have a relationship with us.
And when we find him,
he promises to fill us with great joy!
Song: “Joy to the World” PsH 337
“How Great Our Joy” SNT 10
“Psalm 98: Sing a New Song to the Lord” SNC 112
Offertory: “Carol of the Bells,” arr. Hayes
Song: “The First Noel” CH 265, PH 56, WR 229
“Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light” CH 264, PH 26, PsH 343, WR 202
[Children’s choir walks in during the singing]
Narrator 1: This morning we are going to present the story of the Wise Men, the Epiphany story, taken from Matthew 2. We hope that you will see Jesus in a fresh new way. Are you ready? Then let’s go back in time . . . to that holy night.
Solo: “O Holy Night,” (st. 1) CH 285, WR 187
“How Bright Appears the Morning Star” PH 69, PsH 357, TH 515
A Starry Night in the East
[Wise Man 1 stares up into the night sky as “O Holy Night” plays softly; Child enters. A bench is on stage.]
Child: Hi Dad, whatcha doin’?
Wise Man 1: Looking at the stars, honey, the beautiful stars.
Child: You sure must know a lot about stars—you’re out here almost every night.
Wise Man 1: We do know some things—but there’s so much more we don’t understand. Come and sit here by me.
[Both sit on bench quietly looking into the sky.]
Child: Do you know how the stars got up there?
Wise Man 1: Some say the God of the Hebrews created them. Here’s what the prophet Job said.
Prophet 1: God is the maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. (Job 9:9)
Wise Man 1: Look, there’s a constellation—a group of stars. In fact, that’s Orion over there. [points] The prophet Amos talked about that one too.
Prophet 2: He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night . . . the Lord is his name. (Amos 5:8)
Wise Man 1: Do you see Orion? [points]
Child: I . . . I think so. How about over there, that really bright group of stars [points]—what’s that?
Wise Man 1: That’s the constellation Pleiades. That one is made up of seven stars.
Wise Man 2: [runs in, out of breath] Hey, look . . . You guys are not going to believe this. Look in the sky. Over there! [points]
Wise Man 1: [jumping up] What?
Wise Man 2: [points] Over there . . . don’t you see it? A new star!
Wise Man 1: Yes . . . I see it! It is rising in the East.
Child: I see it too . . . I think.
Wise Man 1: It can’t be. Is it? Do you think this could be the long-awaited star?
Wise Man 2: I believe it is.
Wise Man 1: Do you think this is announcing the birth of a King?
Child: Wait a minute . . . what’s happening, Dad?
Wise Man 1: [awestruck] Could it really be the Messiah?
Child: [tugging on dad’s robe] Dad . . .
Wise Man 1: God promised that a star would be a sign for us. Long ago, King David said,
Prophet 3: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. (Ps. 19:1-2)
Wise Man 2: You see, even the stars point us to God and remind us of his faithfulness, glory, and promises. I think this star is a special star.
Child: But why is this star special?
Wise Man 1: This star tells us a King has been born. It’s a birth announcement!
Children: “Good News” SFL 132
“The Heavens Declare Your Glory” PsH 429, TH 113
Child: A King? A baby King? Where?
Wise Man 2: Israel—that’s what the Jewish Scriptures tell us.
Prophet 1: A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. (Num. 24:17)
Wise Man 3: [runs in] Have you seen the rising star?
Wise Men 1 & 2: Yes . . . we see it!
Wise Man 3: If this is what I think it is, we have discovered something absolutely amazing! This may well be the best discovery of all!
Wise Man 2: [wondering] Imagine us—ordinary people—seeing the great star!
Children: “Ain’-a-That Good News,” Fettke
“Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” PsH 361, WR 243
Wise Man 2: We must go . . . don’t you think?
Child: Go? What do you mean? Go where?
Wise Man 2: We must follow the star and find the King so we can worship him.
Wise Man 1: But how will we know where to go?
Wise Man 2: The star will lead us.
Wise Man 3: We must follow the light! The star will lead us to the King! [leaves down center aisle]
Wise Man 2: Load up the camels! This is going to be quite a trip! [leaves down center aisle]
Child: Hey, maybe we should bring some gifts to give to the King.
Wise Man 1: [to child] We?
Child: [pleading] I can come too, can’t I, Dad? Pleeease?
Wise Man 1: I suppose so . . .
Child: [jumping up and down] I’m going! I’m going to see the King!
[Child and Wise Man 1 leave quickly down center aisle. Bench is removed.]
Children: “Star of Wonder,” Marsh
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” CH 249, PH 41/42, PsH 340, SWM 102, TH 208, WR 182
Jerusalem, the Palace of Herod the Great
(several months later)
Child: [walking up center aisle, whining] What a long trip! I’m tired. We’ve traveled so far. When are we going to be there?
Wise Man 1: I don’t know exactly . . . but it will all be worth it when we see the King!
Wise Man3: The very presence of the Lord has led us this far. Surely we aren’t making this trip in vain!
Wise Man 2: Maybe now that we’re close to Jerusalem, we should stop and ask for directions.
Wise Man 3: But we don’t know anyone around here. [sarcastically] Shall we ask Herod the Great?
Wise Man 2: [smiling] Exactly what I was thinking! Let’s ask King Herod if he knows about the birth of the new King. Surely, he’ll know where the King of the Jews has been born. . . .
Wise Man 3: I thought you were supposed to be wise! Don’t you know King Herod is a jealous, evil man? I don’t think we want to go there! I heard he killed his wife.
Wise Man 1: . . . and his three sons . . . and his servants . . . and his mother-in-law. Some people say he’s insane!
Child: Hey, look, I see the temple over there [points] . . . It looks like a mountain covered with gold and crystal! And is that Herod’s palace over there? [points]
Wise Man 2: Let’s go! We’ve made it this far . . . we can’t quit now. God has brought us this far—God will bring us all the way!
Song: “As with Gladness Men of Old” CH 290, PH 63, PsH 358, SFL 143, TH 226, WR 236
“Bright and Glorious Is the Sky” PsH 360
[During the singing, Soldiers set out the throne, Wise Men put on stoles and crowns. Herod sits on the throne, Soldiers beside him. Wise Men and Child walk up steps]
Soldier 1: What is your business here?
Wise Man 2: [drops to his knees] Your honor, thank you for letting us into your throne room.
Herod: I am a very busy man—the king of five provinces. What is it you wish to ask of me? [claps hands together]
Solider 2: Speak up! Don’t waste the king’s time!
Wise Man 1: Your highness, we come seeking the one who has been born King of the Jews. We saw his star rising in the east.
Herod: A King? What are you talking about? [to himself] A star announcing the birth of a king? I don’t like the sound of that. Another king?
Wise Man 1: [nods] King of the Jews.
Herod: [mutters to himself] I have reigned for thirty-five years. And I plan to remain on the throne many more years. Why do you think they call me Herod the Great? I am the king! [to the Wise Men] Why do you seek this king?
Wise Man 3: We have come to worship him. Do you know where we may find him?
Herod: Stop!! Enough! Chief priests, get in here now! Did you hear me? I said get in here now!
[Three Chief Priests enter and stand before Herod.]
Herod: Do you know anything about this King of the Jews these men speak of?
Chief Priest 1: Yes sir, we do. We have been waiting many years for this great event.
Herod: How do you know?
Chief Priest 1: The Scriptures tell us.
Herod: What does it say about this supposed King?
Chief Priest 1: The child is to be called the Christ.
Chief Priest 2: And the King is to be born in Judea.
Herod: How do you know that?
Chief Priest 3: Many years ago Jacob gave a blessing to his son, Judah. God promised that . . .
Prophet 3: The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet. (Gen. 49:9-10)
Chief Priest 1: The King will be born in the City of David, just as the prophet Jeremiah said.
Prophet 1: I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line. (Jer. 33:15)
Herod: [agitated] In Bethlehem—the city of David? Is that where he is?
Chief Priest 2: Yes, sir, in Bethlehem of Judea.
Herod: That puny little city? Are you serious?
Chief Priest 3: A thousand years ago King David was born in Bethlehem. It is only fitting that his successor be born there too. The prophet Micah foretold this event . . .
Prophet 2: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the clans of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel. (Mic. 5:2)
Herod: [yells, stamps foot] A ruler who will be the shepherd of Israel? NO . . . I am the ruler! This cannot be. This CAN NOT BE!
Chief Priest 3: The Scriptures make this all quite clear. It will happen just as it is written.
Chief Priest 1: [whispers to other Chief Priests] It sounds as if that has already happened.
Herod: That’s enough! You are dismissed!
[Chief Priests leave. Herod paces.]
Herod: [to himself] I must put a stop to this. No king will take my place, not even an infant King—I’ll make sure of that! Nothing less than this child’s blood will satisfy me. Just to be sure, I’ll kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem. I’ll get rid of them all!
[Herod returns to throne.]
Herod: RISE! [Wise Men stand before him.] My Chief Priests and teachers of the law have said the child was born in Bethlehem.
Wise Man 3: Bethlehem? We’re very close then, aren’t we?
Herod: Only five miles south. But before you leave, tell me—when did the star first appear?
Wise Man 3: Over a year ago.
Herod: So the child could be close to two years old already. . . . I see. Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, tell me so that I too may go and pay homage to him.
Wise Man 2: Thank you, your highness. Of course we will!
Child: [as they walk away down center aisle] You’d think the Chief Priests and Herod would want to come with us. Don’t they want to see the King?
Herod: [calling after them] Don’t forget to come back! You must return with the exact location of the child.
Wise Man 2: Don’t worry. We’ll come back.
Wise Man 1: [points] Hey, look! The star is moving. God is guiding us again! It will lead us into the presence of the King!
Child: We’re almost there! We’re going to see the King!
Children and congregation: “Soon and Very Soon” CH 757, SFL 194, SNC 106, SWM 149, WR 523
“When Herod Reigned in Israel” SNT 12
“Once in Royal David’s City” CH 286, PH 49, PsH 346, TH 225, WR 183
[Herod and soldiers exit, remove throne. Wise Men set out bench, gifts.]
At Home in Bethlehem
[“O Little Town of Bethlehem” plays softly as Wise Men and Child walk up center aisle. Mary, Joseph, and young Jesus are on stage. Wise Man 2 knocks on door.]
Joseph: Who is it?
Wise Man 2: Friends from the East.
Joseph: What can I do for you?
Wise Man 2: We have come to see the King.
Joseph: Come in. You’ve come to see the King? What makes you think there is a King here?
Wise Man 2: We have seen his star in the east. We have come to worship him.
Wise Man 1: [reverently, to Mary] Is this your child?
[Mary nods] What is his name?
Mary: His name is Jesus.
Wise Man 1: We have found the Messiah, the long-awaited Messiah!
[Wise Men bow in adoration.]
Children: “We Fall Down,” CSW 30
“Come and Stand Amazed, You People” PsH 338
“Los Magos Que Ilegaron a Belén/The Magi Went to Bethl’hem Long Ago SNC 118
Child: We brought gifts for King Jesus. May we give them to him? [Mary nods, sits on bench with Jesus on her lap]
Wise Man 1: I brought gold, the most precious of all metals; a gift suited for a King. [sets gift at Mary’s feet]
Wise Man 3: I brought frankincense—I honor you, Jesus with the smoke of incense. [sets gift at Mary’s feet]
Wise Man 2: I brought myrrh—a sweet-smelling perfume fit for a King. [sets gift at Mary’s feet]
Child: I want to give the King something too.
Mary: What, my child?
Child: [sings “Wise Men Still Follow,” Clydesdale]
Child: I wish we could stay here forever!
Wise Man 2: We must return to our families and friends. We must spread the news of this great thing that we have seen.
Wise Man 3: We have wonderful news to share!
Wise Man 1: But we must take a different route back. God warned me in a dream to stay clear of King Herod. He is an evil man. We must not return to the palace.
Joseph: God also warned me in a dream. Herod is searching for our little boy. He wants to kill him. Danger lurks here in Bethlehem. So Mary and I will go to Egypt with Jesus. God will keep us safe there.
Wise Man 2: That will be a long trip for you!
Joseph: Yes, over 200 miles. We’re leaving during the night.
Mary: [standing] Our God always provides a way out of difficult situations! We trust God.
Solo: “Protect Me, God” PsH 16, SFL 217
Joseph: Thank you all for coming! It is clear the Lord has sent you here.
Mary: You have given us a sign that our child is indeed the Son of God. On the night he was born, shepherds visited us. That was a sign. When Jesus was eight days old, Simeon and Anna held him in the temple. That was a sign. Now you have come—another sign. We are the Lord’s servants.
Joseph: Surely the Lord will provide for us all! The Lord is good to those who trust and obey! He’s never failed us yet!
Children: “He Never Failed Me Yet,” Ray
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” CH 139, PH 276, PsH 556, SWM 194, TH 32, WR 72
[Narrator 2 enters.]
Narrator 2: Most of you know the end of this story. The Wise Men did trust in God. They returned safely to their own country without stopping to see King Herod. Joseph and Mary trusted too. They found safety in Egypt and stayed there for two years before returning to Nazareth, where they raised their son, Jesus. Jesus lived in Nazareth until he was thirty years old, until he began his public ministry. About three years later, his ministry was cut short. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. After three days he arose, and later he ascended into heaven. He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. One day, he will return! All of us—including Herod and the Chief Priests—will bow at the mention of his name. And when he comes back again, everyone will recognize him as the King of kings!
Congregation: “The Ends of All the Earth Shall Hear” PsH 542, TH 368
“He Is Lord” CH 34, PsH 633, SNC 160, SFL 178, WR 305
“Christ, Who in the Form of God” SNT 196
Litany of Application (leader and congregation)
When God’s Son appeared on earth, most of the world did not recognize him, and therefore did not worship him. God still reveals himself to us today. Some people respond by worshiping, trusting, and obeying. Others reject him. What is your response?
At times we can be like Herod.
Herod worshiped himself and his kingdom. His pride made him think he controlled his own destiny. He chose to reject Jesus.
Lord, forgive our selfishness, our pride, our self-will. Forgive us for pursuing our own wants and wishes instead of yours.
Wise men and women know that Jesus is the one and only King!
At other times we can be like the Chief Priests.
The Chief Priests were experts in the Old Testament. They knew the prophecies, yet they made no attempt to seek the newborn King.
Lord, forgive our indifference, apathy, and unbelief. Forgive us for not having an intimate relationship with you, even though we have every opportunity to do so.
Most of us have stacks of Bibles in our homes. We can talk with God any time. We can worship freely. But sometimes we go for days without thinking about God. Sometimes we’re too busy to be bothered. Forgive us, Lord, for keeping our distance; for not seeking you.
Help us to be more like the Wise Men.
What made them wise was their simple desire to find Jesus. They were willing to travel many miles, enduring hardships along the way, to worship him.
Lord, may that same longing fill our hearts. May we obediently respond to your call, seek you with all our heart, and respond with a life of gratitude.
God says, “If you seek me you will find me. And when you find me, you will be filled with great joy!”
Children: “Joy, Joy, Joy,” Arr. Allen
“O Love, How Deep How Broad, How High” PH 83, PsH 64, TH 155
Postlude: “Break Forth into Joy,” Bach