Before the reading, I warned people that questions would be asked! I then asked people to get into groups and challenged them to answer the questions. My marking scheme attracted one or two comments! To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have got 15 out of 15 without the help of Wikipedia…
I got quite a lot of positive comments from this; I think that people enjoyed the challenge and interaction and I think that it challenged some people to think about what they knew… I also had a complaint that you couldn’t answer all the questions from just reading the passage, to which I answered by talking about the importance of Bible study.
You can also read my sermon from our Epiphany carol service.
Magi quiz; Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
(the answers are at the end)
- What did the Magi follow?
- What gifts did the Magi bring?
- How many magi were there?
- What were their names?
- What did the Magi ride?
- Where did they come from?
- Can you name the country?
- Who did they go to see before Jesus?
- Where did they find Jesus?
- The Magi went home by another route. Why?
- What does ‘Magi’ mean?
- Traditionally, how many magi does the Eastern Orthodox church think there were?
(we then marked the questions)
We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about the Christmas story. But, as we’ve discovered from the quiz, what we think we know about the Christmas story isn’t quite what’s in the Christmas story. We’ve spent a lot of time celebrating Christmas, but perhaps not enough time actually exploring what the Christmas story really is, perhaps not enough time reading what the Bible tells us about what happened.
So, what happened? Well, the Magi were the wealthy scientists of their day. Astrology, astronomy, magic, understanding the world all blurred. They weren’t Jews, weren’t part of God’s chosen people. They were almost certainly Zoroastrians, followers of another religion. But they came to worship Jesus. They came to worship Jesus because of what they had seen, because of their understanding of the world. And God spoke to them through that. And the Magi were brave enough to go on a long journey to find out more about what they had seen. They didn’t think ‘I know it all already’. They were wise enough to know there was more to find out more to discover. And that’s the same for us, as we’ve found out by doing this quiz. God calls us on a journey, to discover more about him, to worship him with more of our lives.
The Magi discovered God through what they were doing, through their exploration of the world. And scientists still do that, still discover God in their work, and still worship him because of what they see. Scientists, artists, musicians, manufacturers, the retired, teachers, students, homemakers, medics, volunteers, politicians can discover God in what they are doing, can worship him through what they do and how they do it. You can discover God in what you do, can worship God through what you do and how you do it. You can be like the Magi, you can come, perhaps after a long journey, to the true king, to Jesus, to lay your gifts before God.
We don’t know what happened next to the Magi. But we know what happened next to Jesus. He and his family had to flee persecution and go into exile as refugees. They would have had to rely on strangers to help them, to give them somewhere to live. The Magi didn’t come back. But we can keep returning to the true king, to Jesus, and we can keep giving our gifts to God. That’s the journey that we’re on. It can be long and hard sometimes. And sometimes we’re not sure what we’re going to give to God. But, as we’ve sung, we can join the celebration. And that’s what’s important. Amen.
(the answers and marks!)
- What did the Magi follow? <A star; 1 mark>
- What gifts did the Magi bring? <Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh; 1 mark for all three>
- How many magi were there? <Don’t Know or 2+; 1 mark. Lose a mark for ‘3’. Half a mark for 3+>
- What were their names? <Don’t know; 1 mark. Lose a mark if you tried to remember Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar and you couldn’t get all of them!>
- What did the Magi ride? <Don’t know; 1 mark. Half a mark for ‘camels’ as that’s probably right!>
- Where did they come from? <From the east; 1 mark>
- Can you name the country? <Persia or Iran; 1 mark. 2 marks for Parthian Empire!>
- Who did they go to see before Jesus? <King Herod>
- Where did they find Jesus? <In a house; 1 mark. Lose a mark for stable. Half a mark for ‘Bethlehem’>
- The Magi went home by another route. Why? <They were warned in a dream; 1 mark>
- What does ‘Magi’ mean? <Wise man; 1 mark. Lose a mark for ‘king’. 2 marks for ‘astrologer’, ‘Zoroastrian’, or ‘magician’>
- Traditionally, how many magi does the Eastern Orthodox church think there were? <12; 2 marks>