Summary: 2009 Christmas Message
One of my favorite holiday experiences this year actually took place before Thanksgiving. It was the first of what I hope will be many East Noble Middle School Fall Plays.
The play was called, “O, Little Town of Christmas” by Pat Cook. A series of one act plays; it was both a humorous, and important, look at Christmas.
One of the acts featured three young men (one of whom you know) who were experiencing that universal feeling of anxiety before going on stage as the Wise Men for the annual Christmas pageant.
The one who was to present the gift of myrrh could not even pronounce the word and needed help learning how to say it. Another one, called Casper, had trouble remembering that he was a wise man and not the friendly ghost.
He also had to remember that he was presenting the gift of frankincense and not the gift of Frankenstein! The third one kept the other two from falling apart by reminding them that it was the “blessed babe” they were giving gifts to and not, “the dude.”
A week ago yesterday, the family and I were doing some Christmas shopping on the eastside of Indianapolis the day after Daniel’s family birthday party, and one of the stores we stopped at was a Family Christian Store. As I walked through the store, I spotted a nativity activity set for kids with this catching title:
(Slide 1) “What Does God Want For Christmas?”
Ever stop to consider this question, “What does God want for Christmas?” Made me stop and think about the title of this morning’s message: (Slide 1a) “How Do We ‘Gift’ God? How do we give the Lord the right kind of gifts every day of our lives?
Please turn to Matthew 2:1-12 and let’s hear a familiar story once again.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him.”
Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. “Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?” he asked them.
“In Bethlehem,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘O Bethlehem of Judah,
you are not just a lowly village in Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. (NLT)
(Slide 2) Our main text is verse 11, “They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (NLT)
I believe this text indicates several gifts that God seeks from us not just during the Advent and Christmas season but also throughout the year.
(Slide 3) The first gift is the gift of the “bended knee” which is the gift of worship.
(Slide 4) The second gift is the gift of the “opened treasure chest” which is the gift of an open heart and life.
(Slide 5) The third gift is the gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” which are the gifts of our time, resources, and abilities.
A few days from now, if not already, we will be opening our gifts as well as giving ones others will open. If it is clothes, then perhaps a gift receipt will be in the box so that if it is too small, too big, too green, too loud, too soft, or just not cool enough, we can return it for something else.