Summary: This sermon challenges us to bring our gifts to the King of Kings.

Epiphany 2011

Matthew 2:1-12

Gifts of the wise people.

Today’s Gospel reading is where the story of the wise men coming to worship at the feet of Jesus is told. It is during this time of year, immediately following Christmas, that we commemorate this event; and this week is widely celebrated as the feast of the Epiphany. It is when we remember the events directly after the birth of Jesus. It is a time when we, like the magi who followed a distant star, are reminded of the fullest meaning of the coming of Jesus.

While they are often referred to as “kings,” it is probably more likely that they were astrologers or magicians familiar in some way with the coming of the Messiah.

If you study the Bible carefully you find that the origin of the Magi that visited the Christ child started during the Babylonian captivity. They would have come into contact with the Messianic prophecies when Daniel was made chief of the magicians. This is mentioned in Daniel chapters 2, 4 & 5. It was this seed planted by Daniel that would have resulted in the magi having knowledge of a savior and messiah that would be born to the nation of Israel. In fact if you look at the word “magician” its first four letters are the visitor’s title, “MAGI” which is the root of magician.

The magi of Jesus’ day may not have known God, but they knew stars. They knew when something extraordinary was happening in the night sky. They saw the star, and they took note. They investigated. They conferred with one another. What they did not understand captured their imagination. They did not turn their eyes to another part of the sky, hoping to see the familiar and be reassured. They did not grasp at explanations, hoping to have their own previous knowledge confirmed. They saw the star, and they took note.

The magi were open to evidence that God was doing something special in their world. When the star marking the birth of Jesus appeared, the magi saw it.

The star God sends to you, or to me might be something completely different. It might be just the right word from a friend at just the right moment. It might be a vision in a dream. It might be an impression during prayer. It might be an insight from a book. It might be something we see God doing, not in our own life, but in the life of someone we know.

Whatever it is, we need to be open to evidence that God is doing something special in our world. And it is that openness that allows us to bring our gifts to the King of Kings. So this morning I pose to you this question – What gifts do you bring to the King?

The Magi came before Jesus bearing gifts of incredible value. God has placed gifts of incredible value inside of each one of us. Just as the Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each of us bears unique and valuable gifts for the Kingdom of God.

Our calling from God is to share whatever gifts we have in common for the benefit of the mission of the community of faith. I’m terribly afraid though that many believers today do not recognize or have not been told what that mission is.

The mission of the church is twofold; FIRST it is to edify the saints, and SECOND it is to share the love of Christ with this world which is in desperate need of hope.

I Corinthians 12:25-27 says, “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

We are all members of one body and our gifts, whatever they may be; those are meant to serve one another so that the love of Christ may shine brightly in, around, and from – from the fellowship that we all share together. But sometimes we mistake what our gifts really are and fail to use them, many times out of fear.

Let me illustrate this point.

There was a Pastor in a congregation in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. One day he found two containers on his desk, and along with the containers was a note from a thoughtful church member, wishing that he and his wife would sample her home cooking.

One container held some delicious hearty soup, which they ate the next day. The other container, which appeared to be an odd squash dish, the pastor tried but threw away as he did not like its peculiar flavor or odor.

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