Summary: Uses the frankincense that the wise men brought to point out some of the sacrifices that Jesus made in coming to earth.
WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM, PART 2
FRANKINCENSE FOR A HOLY SACRIFICE
DECEMBER 4, 2016
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C
FARM HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, HARRISBURG, AR
INTRO. Dave Barry, the well-known humorist, has this take on the wise men and Christmas:
“Although this is a festive time of year, it can also be a difficult and stressful time for a certain group - a group whose needs all too often, are overlooked in our society. That group is men. Why is the Christmas Season so hard on men? There are many complex reasons, by which I mean: women.
“This problem dates back to the very first Christmas. We know from the Bible that the Wise Men showed up in Bethlehem and gave baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now gold is always a nice gift (especially these days), but frankincense and myrrh - at least according to my dictionary - are gum resins (from a tree). Who gives gum resins to a baby?
“The answer is: men. The wise Men, being men, didn’t even START shopping for gifts until the last minute, when most of the stores in the greater Bethlehem area were closed for Christmas Eve. The only place still open was Big Stu’s House of Myrrh. So the Wise Men showed up at the manger, handed their baby gifts to Mary, and headed for the eggnog. Mary looked at the gifts - which were not wrapped, nor where they accompanied by cards - rolled her eyes, tossed the gum resins to the goats (which ate them) and said; “Next Christmas, we are going to have some gift-giving RULES.” But the Wise Men didn’t hear her, because by then they were over by the crib trying to teach the Baby Jesus to pull their finger.
“In contrast, your standard man, at this point in the Christmas season has purchased zero gifts. He has not yet gotten around to purchasing an acceptable gift for his wife for LAST Christmas. He did give her something last year, but he could tell by her reaction to it that she had not been dreaming of an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables AND an air compressor. Clearly this gift violated an important rule, but the man had no idea what this rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him.
“And now ANOTHER Christmas is looming, and this man, terrified that he will screw up again, has been wracking his brain for gift ideas for his wife. Nothing automotive this time. He won’t make THAT mistake again! He’s thinking Weed Whacker, but he’s not sure. He’s a nervous wreck. A lot of us men are. That’s why we buy gifts at the very last minute, or, optionally, never. It’s not that we’re thoughtless jerks!”
(Posted at http://www.searchamelia.com/dave-barry-questions-the-wise-men)
And so it goes! Men, I feel your pain, because I am there every year, in one way or another. For most men, we just have a hard time picking out the right gift. It causes a lot of stress and tension.
But God does not seem to have that problem. We think about frankincense today because it reminds us that Jesus was a holy sacrifice. He was the perfect gift, for that Christmas and any Christmas. “Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of his willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving himself up, ...(comparable) to a burnt offering” (posted at https://gotquestions.org/ gold-frankincense- myrrh. html). Caspar from India gets the credit for bringing frankincense to Jesus, and his was the furthest journey, perhaps the greatest sacrifice. How is it that Jesus is making a holy sacrifice?
I. HE GAVE UP BEING GOD. In all of the rush to Christmas, to the presents and the family time and all the wonderful things, it is so easy to ignore this signpost and blast right past it. Jesus laid aside all there was of God in him so that he could become one of us. Maybe a rough human comparison would be with the situation of Stephen Hawking, who is the Einstein of our generation. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease his final year at Oxford and was given two years to live. By the end of the 1960s, he went to crutches and then a wheelchair. By the end of the 1970s, his speech was understandable only by family and his closest friends. In 1985, pneumonia led to a tracheotomy, which took away all his remaining speech. He ended up with a computer on his wheelchair that he used to produce up to 15 words a minute. By 2005, he had lost the use of his hand and now uses his cheek muscles to speak through his computer (www.wikipedia.org). His body is withering around him, yet he soldiers on.