Sermon for Jan 1

By on January 1, 2017

January 01, 2017               Epiphany Sunday             Matthew 2: 1-12  

 

Introduction – Marjory

 

Did anyone get a gift you had to return this Christmas?

 

Maybe it was clothing that did not fit or a duplicate item you already had.

 

Whatever the reason – you took it back because it was something you did not need.

 

I wonder if sometimes we approach the scriptures the same way.

 

Not necessarily – like taking back a gift we don’t need but maybe like watching a movie we don’t need to see again.

 

Christmas night I watched the movie Home Alone for the first time.

 

It was funny but I don’t need to see it again.

 

This morning is Epiphany Sunday and once again we will travel with the Wiseman to find the baby Jesus.

 

As we listen and absorb the story – we must be sure that we don’t treat this scripture like a gift we don’t need or a movie we only need to see once.

 

That is not how God’s story is intended.

 

In the biblical world repetition is valuable – God given gift that is to be used often and shared with others.

The more we embrace the scriptures together the more we celebrate what brings us together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

This morning Ray and hope that you will receive the gift of God’s holy word as we continue to study how the Wiremen’s visit to the Christ child continues to   impact our lives.

 

Don’t just hear it but receive it in a way that it continues to be a gift that you can give to others.

 

Follow along with me as we share our scripture lesson found in Matthew 2 beginning with verse one.

 

Turn to Matthew 2: 1-12 and follow along.

 

 

Scripture: Marjory

 

Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)           The Visit of the Wise Men

 

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.” 3

 

 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with           him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the           people, he inquired of them where the Messiah is to be born.

 

They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by   the prophet:

 

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

 

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them           the exact time when the star had appeared.

 

Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for           the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I           may also go and pay him homage.”

When they 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.

 

10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed           with joy.

 

11 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.

 

12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left           for their own country by another road.

 

Sermon – Ray

 

 

 

Our theme today is that because Jesus came, we give good gifts in honor of our Lord.  We take our cue from God and the magi.  God, of course, gave the promised gift to all of humankind.  But we also have this mysterious story about unknown travelers from the east, who are called magi, or wise men, who come to worship the one born king of the Jews and to give him gifts.

 

The Magi thought their journey would end in Jerusalem and once they arrive they ask the simple question … Where is the one born king of the Jews?  We have seen his star and have come to worship him.  This simple question turns King Herod and all of Jerusalem upside down as they hear reports of it.  The point that Matthew makes is that this is surprising and unexpected news.

 

The message, however, is not dismissed.  Herod knows enough to ask the religious experts to find out where the Messiah was to be born and he receives the correct answer, Bethlehem of Judea.  And then in his deviousness, he asks the Magi to find the child and then he will follow and worship too.  We know from the remainder of the story that Herod had bad intentions, but God protected Jesus from Herod’s wrath.

 

The Magi seek the child by continuing to follow the star.  Matthew comments that they were overjoyed to see the star as their guidance.  It led them until they found the child. Here they do a simple act of worship and give their gifts.  No fanfare is given like their entrance to Jerusalem; they came and completed their journey and act of worship.  We see humbleness as grown men bow to a young child.  Our story concludes with their obedience to a dream to avoid Herod and return home.

 

The story of the Magi should inspire us as we too seek out and worship Jesus and offer our gifts to him.  As Marjory said in the introduction, this is not a one and done event.  Nor is it something that we take back and exchange.  The inspiration of the Magi lead us to:

 

Find Jesus:  We note that in their story, they traveled a long way, had to ask for directions, and persevere.  Sounds like a journey!  Where do we find Jesus?  We find Jesus in the pages of scripture and so I invite you to be active in the scriptures.  We find Jesus in moments of prayer and contemplation.  Be still and know that he is God.  And so I invite you to take time to pray and sit still in God’s presence.  We find Jesus in active worship and ministry as we express genuine love for God and people.  And so you are invited to worship and be involved in ministry.

 

Worship Jesus: We just mentioned that worshiping Jesus is a way to find him.  But Jesus wants more of us than a visit.  He wants us to live with him, be family, and yet at the same time offer unto him glory, laud, and honor.  Worship is much more than our Sunday service.  True worship is a way of life in which Jesus is alongside us as God with us and we offer our lives as living sacrifices doing what he said to do!  In short, we call that obedience.

 

Offer our gifts:  In the tradition of the magi, we gave gifts to family this year.  Some of you may have given gifts in the name of Jesus to the church or to others through the Salvation Army or a specialized offering.  We understand that our gift giving is more than a Christmas event.  It is to honor Jesus.  Our gifts to Jesus, be it time, money, or service are used for God’s glory.

 

And so, let us be people who give the gift of Christmas to others.  Let us lead others to find Jesus by inviting them to find Jesus in the mission and ministry of our church.  Let us commit to worshipping Jesus by offering inspirational worship on Sundays and by learning to worship Jesus in the moments of each and every day.  And let us be a giving people, who give generously of ourselves for the cause of Christ in the ministry of this church and other efforts that are part of the kingdom of God.

 

It is with these thoughts that Marjory and I invite you on behalf of Jesus, to Holy Communion …

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