Dec 23, 2020

Sermon Outline for Epiphany Sunday, January 3, 2021

By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Text: Matthew 2:1-12                                       

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the time of King Herod, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him. 

When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem, in Judea,” they replied, “This is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” 

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the East went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Sermon Outline: Wise Worshipers


  1. The wise men came to worship him
  2. A little boy was taught to sing “Venite Adoremos” (Latin for “O Come Let Us Adore Him”) But the words came out, “Velveeta – auto – rainbow.”
  3. Our worship is sometimes like that – we are distracted, busy and too selfish to truly engage in worship
  4. The wise men of old can teach us about worship


  1. Humility
    1. The Wise men made a huge effort to worship the newborn king.  They traveled for two years and they bowed before him.
    2. The “Bethlehem Church of the Nativity” has a sign that says, “Only heads bowed in humility can worship Christ.”  Still true today
    3. I met a woman at food bank who has worked at this program for 20 years and it was because she was willing to humble herself in obedience to God’s call for her life.
    4. As you worship God – be humble! Put yourself second! Engage and focus on God
  2. Flexibility
    1. The Wise men arrived in Jerusalem and found that it was the wrong place and the wrong king was in charge there
    2. They went for “Plan B” – Bethlehem!  They were willing to change plans
    3. The Pandemic has taught us worship flexibility.  We pastors are all tel-evangelists now with new platforms, new people never seen before, new music and new ways of giving
    4. We must not be too set in our ways in worship.  One time I was baptizing a child and she in turn put her hand in the water bowl and baptized me.  It changed worship that day in a wondrous way.
    5. Let God speak in new ways in worship – don’t be too set on how God can speak – Be flexible.
  3. Giving the best
    1. Wise men gave the best: gold, frankincense and myrrh. These were valuable gifts and symbolically valuable. Jesus was indeed:
      King, God and Sacrifice
    2. Give God the best of your means. Jesus said: “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  I say “where your heart is will b evidenced by how you give your treasure.”
    3. Giving is a response to worship. If you love much you give much, is you love little you give little. 
  4. Go home a different way
    1. The Wise men were warned in a dream not to go backs to Jerusalem and they went home a different way
    2. This is an allegory for true worship. True worship means you leave with marching orders, a different heart, a different perspective – because you have encountered a living God.
    3. I like the sign I saw in the back of a church that said: “The service is over but the real service begins”
    4. Worship should point us in a new direction in how we live and move in the world.
    5. Francis Asbury one night went to a worship service in Bristol, England.  Rev. John Wesley was preaching.  At the end of the sermon Wesley sent out a call for preachers to go to America. Asbury came forward – he left church a different way – he came to America in 1771 and changed the world forever.
    6. Look for the “call in every act of worship – a call to change, a call to do, to go, to give and you have truly worshiped. 


Follow the star that leads to Christ and you will find him and you will be a wise worshiper too with humility, flexibility, sacrifice and service.