ST JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH
AMESBURY, MASSACHUSETTS

January 1, 2021
What would you bring?
for the week of January 3, 2021

What you need: a watch, clock, or timer; a quiet creative activity; a candle (if it's okay, or an intentional object like a cross); a Bible, if you'd like; paper; something to write with; a snack. Have your class with a sibling or other family members, or enjoy this time by yourself.

1) Begin with a transition time - Peace & Quiet: enjoy a creative activity for about 10 minutes (journaling, clay, Legos, drawing, etc.) - a time to change gears

2) Next, clear that space, or move to another space, and light a candle (or place your intentional object). Settle in, and say a prayer, like: Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105). Offer more prayers, silently, or out loud, if you want.

3) Here are the appointed readings for January 3, 2021. Find them in your Bible, or click here: https://episcopalchurch.org/lectionary/christmas-2 (also in Spanish).

Our focus for this class =
What would you bring?
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12

"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.’ "

The wise men - who are not Jews, being "from the East" - are directed to Bethlehem by Jewish priests who recognize the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy. Paranoid and cruel King Herod craftily commands them to locate this threat to his throne, and to return to him with the address. He also directs the slaughter of all baby boys, to wipe out any threat (which is why the Holy Family flees to the safety of Egypt.) The wise men are warned in a dream to ignore Herod and head straight home after finding and honoring the child-king of the Jews.

"When the wise men had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

So, say you're a wise person, and there's literally a guiding star leading you to an amazing leader, and you feel compelled to give this royal child a present. What would you bring?

Tradition and song explains their choice of gifts:

gold (fit for a king)
Verse 2 – We Three Kings
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign.

frankincense (important for temple rituals and anointing priests,
pointing toward Jesus' role as teacher)
Verse 3 – We Three Kings
Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshipping God on high.

& myrrh (foretelling the spices used to embalm a body for burial, aka Jesus pre-Easter)
Verse 4 – We Three Kings
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone cold tomb.

But what would YOU bring?

What is valuable enough to you to be a King's gift?
(Money, some astonishing object or precious item, or maybe something-or-other that is priceless - like faith, or friendship, or - what?)

And what is appropriate to support a Priest/teacher/community leader/activist?
(Supplies? Donations to worthy causes? Your skills?)

And how would you honor the life of Jesus, who died for you?
(Influential tweets or TikToks? A big banner? Your own life, well-lived? Expressions of kindness, of support "for the least of these" - of justice, hope, love?)

Ponder these questions! Pray! And listen. What answers do you hear, do you feel?
Will you bring these gifts to Jesus as your thoughtful New Year's resolutions for 2021?
4) Think about what you read, chat about it if you have company, look it up online (if allowed) and see if there's commentary about it – do you agree? Do you feel called to do something?

5) Brainstorm & make a poster: Top 10 Things I'd Give Baby Jesus. Take a pic; email me!

6) Snack time! Prayers first: talk to God! "I'm grateful for, I'm worried about, I ask for" etc. And/or take 5 or more minutes for centering prayer: relaxing into peace & letting thoughts go. Breathe! Enjoy your snack.

7) Finally, clean up your space(s), and say a closing prayer, like: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato. Blow out the candle, or put away the intentional object (or leave it there if you'd like to create a little sacred area) and say out loud:
Go now in peace, to love and serve the Lord! Thanks be to God! ALLELUIA!
Come to a ZOOM CLASS on January 15
6:30pm, Friday, 1/15: Zoom link will be emailed - or text Linda
Zoom youth class every third Friday! Or - maybe more frequently? We'll decide.
LMK if you want the links to past classes.
And anything else that's on your mind!
Sending prayers for hope, joy, love, and peace. . . and a happy new year! Linda
Adults: Please share this email with youth. If you'd like me also to send these emails to the kids, please email me their addresses & your permission. Thanks! Linda