Epiphany 2021, Part 2

Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18
Reader’s Guide: Adult Sunday School Class
Windsor UCC, 1/10, 1/17, 9:30apx
Zoom (please email me for Zoom invite to class)
Resources: Herod the Great | Infancy Narratives (Star, Magi)
Everyone is Welcome!

Immediately following worship (apx 9:30) this Sunday, January 17th, we will continue our study of Epiphany, three foreigners traveling from the East following the star to find the Christ child.

To deepen our conversation and study of this text, I have invited some of our members to study and prepare for me to “interview” them and for us to ask questions together:

Bob Mutton: Herod the Great.
Carol Barth: The Star and the Magi
Gretchen Lord Anderson: Massacre of the Innocents, Jeremiah (Matt. 2:18)

Returning with New Perspectives: Reread Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18 in whatever Bible you are accustomed to using or read the text online here

  • What do you see after our discussions that you didn’t see before?
  • What ideas stuck from our discussion stuck with you through the week?
  • What new questions emerge as you reread the text? 
  • What  understandings are confirmed as you reread?

Interpreting the Story: The practice of our tradition is to open our hearts to the inspired word of God–the Spirit animating stories and teachings and events (actions, movements). These discussion prompts are offered to help us talk about what the Spirit reveals to us today and for our world through our study of scripture together.

Plot and Characters: Herod: Last week, much of our attention focused on Herod. We found the causal link between events–the plot–defined Herod’s reign.  Our conversation began by asking why all of Jerusalem would be frightened (verse 3c) by strangers looking for the child who had been born king of the Jews (verse 2a).  We saw that the fear of the people was explained by Herod’s fury at being tricked, resulting in the massacre of innocent children.  

  • What does this story help us to see about God?
  • How does this story help us to understand human tendencies: in this instance, we might talk about Herod’s sinful use of power and authority, the effect of this power on people, how Herod serves as a counter-example of what God intends for humanity, as revealed in Jesus Christ.    
  • Why does Matthew allude to Jeremiah and Rachel’s unconsolable lamentation for her lost children? 
  • What does the prophetic lamentation of Jeremiah help us to see about God’s response to injustice, suffering, and despair.  

Plot and Characters: Magi: We noticed different names given to these figures depending on which translation or interpretation of the story we read.  We found that the name “Wise Men,” describes their decision to go home by another way rather than foolishly returning to report to Herod.  

  • What significance do we find in the foreignness of these characters?
  • How do these characters deepen or diversify or challenge our understanding of the birth of Christ and how we and others follow the light outside of ours

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