Come and Worship

Epiphany

Come and Worship

1. With joy
2. With your best

Text: Matthew 2:1-12

Intro

Waiting and waiting and waiting.  The anticipation was building and building and building.  Finally the special child was born.  The parents were overjoyed.  All who heard the story were amazed at what they heard.  Visitors even came from afar to see this little child.  What great joy that the child was finally born—Gwendolyn Grace Huebner.

We had great joy when Gwen was born.  Her birth was highly anticipated.  Friends and family came from far away to see the little baby.

But imagine this:  Sometime after Gwen was born the doorbell rang at our house.  I opened the door only to find Lebron James, a NASA astronomer, and a member of the United Nations at our door.  “What are you doing here?”  “We’ve come to see the baby.  We walked all the way here just to find her.”  The three men walked into the house and approached her pink and brown polka dot crib.  As soon as they saw her they bowed low to the ground and laid at her feet a briefcase full of cash, an expensive gift basket from Pottery Barn, and rare flowers from India.

No, that didn’t happen  (though the briefcase full of cash would be nice).  But this made up story seems as strange as the real life story of the Magi. 

We don’t know much about the Magi.  Clearly they were not at the stable in Bethlehem when Jesus was born like most manger scenes suggest.  We don’t know exactly when they arrived.  We don’t know how many of them there were.  Legend says there were three and that their names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.  But even though they brought three gifts there could have been many more than three Magi.

We don’t know where the Magi came from.  The old song goes We three kings of Orient are.  However, word origins tell us that the word Magi seems to be related to a Persian word for men who were high officials with extra amounts of knowledge—maybe advisers, or astronomers, or something similar.  Thus they have often been called Wise Men.  And if we trace the name Magi correctly, then that means they likely came from the land formerly known as Babylon, about 600 miles northeast of Israel.

We know so little about the Wise Men.  Perhaps that is by God’s design.  We don’t need to know where they came from, what they looked like, how many of them there were, what their names were.  We don’t need to know these things because the one thing we do know is all that matters.  They came to worship Christ the newborn King.

I.

What do you think the journey was like for the Magi?  They didn’t have airplanes and bullet trains back then.  They didn’t have sports cars or minivans.  These men traveled 600 some miles by walking and riding camels or horses.  It’s not like the terrain or the temperatures in the Middle East make it easy to travel through either.

What do you think it was like traversing rough roads by animal and by foot for an entire month?  They didn’t know exactly where they were going.  They didn’t know exactly what they were looking for.  They simply followed a star in search of a promised king of the Jews.  (Perhaps they knew the prophecy from Numbers that, a star shall come forth from Jacob.”

Their hearts must have been filled with joy to travel so far.  Their hearts must have been filled with joy to approach King Herod and ask him where the real king of the Jews was.  Their hearts must have been filled with joy to bow down low before a baby and present him with precious and expensive gifts.  They traveled all that distance to Come and Worship with joy.

Compare their joy with your joy.  Were you filled with joy to roll out of bed on a chilly morning to come and worship?  Are you filled with joy every Sunday to come and worship?  Are you filled with joy any Sunday to come and worship?

Isn’t it amazing that these men traveled some 600 miles (or more!) by foot and by animal to worship Christ, yet sometimes we struggle to travel six miles in comfortable cars to worship Christ?  Sometimes we struggle to walk six feet to pick our Bibles off the table.  Sometimes we struggle to make it six minutes in prayer.

What do you think the looks on their faces were like the first time they saw Jesus and laid those gifts at his feet?  Do you think their looks were like our blank Sunday morning stares?  Bloodshot eyes?  Solemn, somber faces?  Wandering eyes staring off into the corner somewhere?

Does this describe your Sunday morning experience?  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 incense and of myrrh.”

We don’t know much about the Wise Men, but we do know this:  They seemed to understand who Jesus was and they came to worship him with joy.  We can take notes on wisdom from these Wise Men.

I think again of all the joy associated with the birth of a child.  There are preparations and plans made.  Baby showers are thrown.  Birth announcements are sent out.

Didn’t we just do the same?  We spent a whole day setting up trees and lights and wreaths and decorations.  We bought poinsettias and special drip-free beeswax candles.  We sent out birth announcements on 20,000 postcards to worship on that holy night of Christmas.  Why did we bother?  Why did we go to all that trouble?

Like the Wise Men, we also know who that child lying in a manger, that baby bouncing on Mary’s lap truly is.  He is our God.  He is the promised Messiah.  He is our Savior.  He is the one who came to live the way we couldn’t.  He is the one who came to die the way we should.  He is the one who came to free us from this life and give us a new one with him forever.

Come and Worship with joy.  Bounce out of bed every week with pep in your step.  You get to see Christ.  Greet one another with happy smiles of joy.  You are here to see Christ.  Listen to his words with a fire burning in your heart and sing his praises with bellowing voices.  You have seen and heard Christ.  Our Savior is born.  Our Savior is here, today, with us.  We are here to praise him and proclaim what he has done.  Come and Worship with joy.

II.

As these Wise Men traveled great distances and went to great lengths to worship Jesus, their joy can also be seen in the gifts that they brought to Jesus.  They didn’t give Jesus a Santa Christmas ornament, a gift card to Starbucks, and a new pair of fuzzy slippers.  These were precious, valuable gifts.

They brought Jesus gold, a gift fit for a king, not a carpenter’s son from Nazareth.  They brought Jesus incense, sometimes called frankincense, which was a fragrant smelling incense used in public worship.  They brought Jesus myrrh, which was a rare powder-like resin from as far away as India.  The joy the Wise Men had in seeing the newborn King led them to Come and Worship with joy and with their best.

Compare their gifts with your gifts.  Does your joy for Jesus result in gifts most precious and most rare?  Do you lay your gifts at his feet with wonder, awe, and joy, or begrudgingly and because you have to?  Does the quality (not necessarily the quantity) of your gifts to Jesus show that he is more important to you than your house, your children, and your free time?

Isn’t it amazing that these men traveled some 600 miles (or more!) by foot and by animal to worship Christ with gifts most precious and rare, yet sometimes we struggle to find a few extra dollars to give to Jesus?  Sometimes we struggle to take time to serve the Lord with any of our time.  After all, someone else will do it, right?

Does this describe your Sunday morning experience, like your gifts of time and offerings?  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 incense and of myrrh.”

We don’t know much about the Wise Men, but we do know this:  They seemed to understand who Jesus was and they came to worship him with joy and with their best.  We can take notes on wisdom from these Wise Men.

Once more I think of all the joy associated with the birth of a child.  Parents, family, and friends are so filled with joy that they buy their babies the best.  $600 strollers.  Versace crib sheets and bibs.  Only the best toys, clothes, and food for our precious babies!

Didn’t we just do the same?  We spent a whole day setting up trees and lights and wreaths and decorations.  We bought poinsettias and special drip-free beeswax candles.  We dressed up in our finest Christmas clothes.  We held extra services.  We gave special gifts.  Why did we bother?  Why did we go to all that trouble?

Like the Wise Men, we also know who that child is.  He’s the one who came to take away our guilt.  He’s the one who came to bring us forgiveness.  He’s the one who comforts our sorrows.  He’s the one who listens to our prayers.  He’s the one who has prepared a place for us in heaven.  He’s the one who will come back in glory to take us to be with him.

Come and Worship, not only with joy but also with your best.  Give to Jesus gifts most precious and most rare.  Consider how your time and your talents and your treasures given can reflect the joy you have over what Jesus has done for you.  Look for opportunities to get involved.  Find ways to serve.  Support the work of his kingdom.  Come and Worship with your best.

Conclusion

This story of the mysterious Magi from the East is one of the more fascinating stories of Scripture.  There is so much that we would like to know about them, but so little that we are told.  We don’t know much, but we do know this:  They certainly were wise.

Be wise like the Magi.  Understand who Jesus is.  He is your king, your God, your Savior.  Then Come and WorshipCome and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn Kingwith joy and with your best.

AMEN

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About Pastor Phil Huebner

Pastor. Missionary. Principal. Husband. Father. Serving in love as each. http://www.ctkpalmcoast.com

Posted on January 6, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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