What Can I Give?
January 3, 2016
Happy New Year!
Today is January 3, so our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations may be winding down. All the hubub may have settled down a bit. You may have undecorated your tree. But we need to go to Bethlehem one more time to complete this Christmas story and to see what the birth of Christ means to us, and what we can do to respond to the fact that Christ has come into our world. We need to go to Bethlehem one more time to see what we can give to Christ, our Savior.
I invite you to come to Bethlehem with me for a few moments this morning. Imagine with me that you are a child in Bethlehem after the birth of Christ. So much has happened in Bethlehem in the past few weeks. The town has been filled with people from all over obeying the order of the Roman government to be enrolled. And one particular couple has caused quite a stir indeed. A boy was born to a couple from Nazareth, and the events surrounding this birth made it clear that this was no ordinary child. Shepherds told of angels that proclaimed the birth of this child to them, and the child’s parents told of how God had told them as the child was conceived that this child was to be the Messiah — the long-awaited Savior of the people. You talk with your grandfather, and he tells you that your people have waited for and prayed for the coming of this child for years. You have joined the crowds around the manger and have looked upon the face of this child that the angels have proclaimed as the Messiah.
How exciting the past few days have been
The child and family have attracted a lot of attention, including attention from foreigners, Gentiles, men dressed in strange garments who have come into town seeking the one born King of the Jews. You and your playmates have seen these men and their entourage, and you have run home to try to get your grandfather to explain this turn of events just as he has explained the other recent events to you. Your grandfather explains that these men must be magi, wise men from the country of Persia. They spent
their lives as the priests for the Persian people and devoted themselves to, among other things, studying the stars, for they felt that the stars told things about God to those who would watch and listen. Apparently they had seen a new star rising over Israel, and were coming to see this new king the star was proclaiming.
Angels and stars proclaiming the birth of a child. What a child this must be, you think to yourself.
Your grandfather says you should go to see what these men are going to do next, so the two of you find them. It is not hard to find such men with such an entourage in Bethlehem. They are at the house where the child whose birth the angels had proclaimed to the shepherds now lived with his parents.
You are not the only ones who have come to see what these men are going to do. A large crowd has gathered, so many you can not see what is happening.
“What’s happening — grandfather” you ask.
“Well” your grandfather says, “it seems one of these men is giving the child gold.”
“Gold? Why gold?” you ask. Your grandfather replies “Well, I’m not sure, but — gold is the gift that is fitting for a king. You know the angels said this child was to be the Messiah, our King, but maybe he is to be their king as well.”
A king! Our King! Their King! The words ring in your ears with amazement.
“What else is going on, grandfather?” you ask with excitement. “One of the men have given the child some incense. From the aroma I would say that it is frankincense.”
“Frankincense? Why frankincense?” you ask. “I can’t be sure” your grandfather replies, “but it is the incense of the priests. They use it in the temple as the people worship God. Possibly these men realize that this child is not only a king, but also a priest, one who brings us closer to God.”
A king! A priest! Surely an amazing child, you think to yourself.
But something else is going on, and try as you might you can’t see what it is so again you ask your grandfather.
“One of the men is giving the child something that looks like myrrh. Yes, that’s what it is, myrrh.”
“Myrrh? Why myrrh?” you ask. “I am truly not sure about this one.” your grandfather replies. “Myrrh is used to embalm the dead. Why these men would give myrrh to a child is a puzzle. I know we all die, but it seems that these men are giving this gift to show that this child’s death would mean something special.
A King. A Priest. A special birth. A special death. Indeed, what a special child this must be!
The wise men seemed understand who this child was. They made Him their King. They made Him their Priest, their connection with God. They proclaimed that His death would be something special for all people. Their gifts were gifts that showed how they felt about this child. He was their King, their Priest, one whose birth and death were important and meaningful to them. They gave to Christ gifts that showed what He meant to them. Before we leave Christmas behind and as we start this new year, we need to ask ourselves:
What does Christ mean to me?
What can I give that will somehow show Christ what He means to me, and even show the world what Christ means to me?
The wise men made Christ their King, their Priest, their connection with God whose life and death made an effect upon how they lived.
What about you? Is Christ the King of your life, or do the things of Christ come behind other things in your life? Are the things of Christ the most important things in your life, or are they not? How you place the things of Christ, of serving God and others, in your life shows Christs place in your life. Have you let Christ be the King of your life? Have you put Christ, and the things of Christ, above all else in your life? If not, you need to give Christ the gift of the Lordship of your life.
What can you give?
Is Christ the Priest of your life, the one who brings you closer to God, who shows you the love of God and strengthens you to show God to others? If not, that is a gift you must give Him, the gift of being the Priest in your life, the gift of letting Christ touch you with the things of God and strengthen you to share them with others. Make the things of worship important to you, for it is in worship that you experience this Priestly function of Christ as you let Christ touch you so you can experience God in a new way and share God with the world.
What can you give?
Is Christ the one whose life and death make a difference for you? Does the salvation you have through the death of Christ make a difference in your life? Do you live as if the salvation you have through Christ make a difference? Has the fact that you have salvation through Christ changed the way you live? If not, this is a gift you must give to Christ. Let the death of Christ make a difference in your life. Live as a follower of the one who has come into the world and has changed the world .
Ask yourself: What can I give? The wise men made Christ their King, their Priest, – the one whose death would make a difference in their lives. They let Christ make a difference in their lives, then they went home another way. As you worship God on this Second Sunday After Christmas, this first Sunday of the new year, let Christ make a difference. Make Him your King, your Priest, your connection with God, and the one whose death means life for you. Recommit yourself to Christ, then leave this place a new person and go home another way, a way of commitment, a way of telling the world that you serve one who came into the world so long ago and was worshipped by wise men, and is still your King, your Priest, your connection with God, and the one who brings you salvation through His death. That’s what you can give. Amen.