Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Matthew 2:1-12 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: First impressions can be awkward. When I worked at the church head office in England, I would spend 2-3 Sabbaths of the month preaching at different churches. It is in my nature to arrive early; ideally I love to get there before the deacons open the church. I also don’t want to get stuck in traffic or have problems finding a parking spot. This was especially true in London. One Sabbath morning, I was scheduled to preach in a church in London and arrived only a few minutes after its doors had opened. As I walked in, a deacon approached me in a rather aggressive style to find out what I wanted. It was a large church, but I am sure he knew I was a visitor. I said that I needed the bathroom. He pointed out that down along the high street there was a McDonald's that was open. I was young and a tad bit mischievous. I should have just explained that I was the visiting preacher from church head office.
But I resisted.
I said, "Oh, no—I'd like to use the bathroom here. Thanks." I began to make my way further into the building. Poor chap. He didn't know quite what to do. So he started to follow me—as all good deacons should do if faced with a stranger who seems suspicious. After all, I could have been a crazy person or simply up to no good. I quickly worked out where the bathroom was and turned around, saying, "Thanks, but I can take it from here." I really think that for a moment he considered following me in. But better judgment prevailed and he stepped away. When I stood up to to preach, I shared the story with the church. I wonder to this day what must have been going through his head.
What were the wise men in this story thinking about Herod’s intentions when he met them for the first time? Clearly, they were willing to listen to the wisdom of the angel in the dream at night, which meant it must have lined up with a feeling they were sensing about Herod. Jesus was only a child at this point in the story and already He was causing a stir.
Recalibrate: What first impression of an event or a person have you had to correct over time?
Respond: Ask Jesus for perspective.
Research: Find a summary of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink.
Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with your child. Remind them that the wise men didn’t have to wonder what the star was for because they knew it pointed to Jesus. Pray that we always find our own stars that remind us to go toward Jesus.
Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
With your child, draw a picture of what they think the night sky looked like on the night Jesus was born. How bright do you think the star that the wise men followed was? Tonight (if it’s not too late), go outside and look for the brightest star you can find.
Live Purpose (ages 12–16)
It’s estimated that there are over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. Spend five minutes looking at the sky tonight and talk to God about your significance. What does it mean to you to be such a small part of the universe, but still mean so much to God?