Bringing Our Gifts To The Baby Jesus

This is the day that the Lord has made!  It is gorgeous outside!

Here is today’s sermon – enjoy!  Have a great day.  xoxo

Bringing Our Gifts To The Baby Jesus
Matthew 2:1-12

This week’s sermon just about killed me.

Okay, okay. Maybe I am exaggerating just a little bit. But I did have a horrible case of blinking cursor syndrome this week. You see, I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to say, but for some reason I just could not get the words down on paper. Perhaps my brain thought that I still needed to be on vacation?

To be quite honest, I think I bit off a little bit more than I could chew with this week’s service and worship. First of all, I wanted to talk about Epiphany, the manifestation of God in the person of Jesus, which happened this past Friday, January 6th. I wanted to talk about what Epiphany really meant for the world that was and the word that is. I wanted to talk about the wise men kneeling down and paying homage to Jesus with gifts so that we could talk about how we can do that today in our own lives.

But then I realized that there was so much more that I needed to talk about.

Here is where I went wrong: Epiphany always falls on January 6th – 12 days after Christmas. Traditionally and in the history of the church, Epiphany is a feast that celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles through the arrival of the Magi. The arrival of the wise men in the manger with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh was not just to give gifts to a baby in a manger, but to pay homage to a King born to save.

In the liturgical calendar, the Sunday after Epiphany is the recognition of Jesus’ baptism. This helps us to kick off Jesus’ ministry (so to speak) for the year. More often than not – if Epiphany does not fall on a Sunday – churches celebrate Epiphany the Sunday before it actually happens because they celebrate the baptism of Christ the Sunday after.

So, in theory, we should have celebrated Epiphany last week.

Whoops.

In fairness to me, this whole “Christmas falling on a Sunday” thing really threw me off. Typically a Sunday falls between Christmas and New Years and then you celebrate Epiphany the first week of the new year. But this year, the first week of the new year was New Years Day. And I wasn’t here. And there was no church school. And we were planning a hymn sing for less people. And we moved Communion back a week because New Years also fell on a Sunday. And my brain apparently wasn’t working.

Did I mention this whole “Christmas falling on a Sunday” thing really threw me off?

So there I sat this week – trying to figure out how in the world I could fit Epiphany, Baptism and Communion into one sermon. I had just about thrown in the towel when I had an “a-ha!” moment.

I wanted to – I want to – talk about gifts today. The three wise men travelled to Bethlehem to see the Christ child. They fell down onto their knees in the manger and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. To me, this story has always made it abundantly clear that we pay homage to Christ through giving to others, through looking outward.

It has really been interesting this week to now look at the Epiphany story in conjunction with the Baptism story and with the Communion liturgy. Jesus gave us these sacraments – these gifts – of Baptism and Communion. At the heart of the Christian story are gifts; gifts meant to bring unity, gifts meant to bring peace, gifts means to offer grace.

Let’s pause and hear those stories.

First – The gift of Baptism and the Holy Spirit that sustains us and unites us all.

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ {Mark 1:4-11}

Second – The gift of Communion and the reminder that we do not have to be one in one mind to sit together and share a meal.

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ {Mark 14:22-25}

Jesus gave to us these simple, yet oh so powerful, gifts. As it turns out grace and unity does not come from iPads, gaming systems, clothing and gift cards, it comes from flowing water and a meal.

The Wise Men traveled from afar to offer majestic gifts to Jesus in the manger. But we are reminded through the stories that we just heard of Jesus’ baptism and the first communion shared that we do not need to offer such grandiose gifts. We can offer simple gifts that make a huge and long-lasting impact.

What gifts can we bring to the Baby Jesus? What can we do here on earth, today, now to pay homage to Jesus the Christ, King, Emmanuel? What simple, but genuine gifts can we give to Jesus? How can we give back to Christ and make a difference in the world?

Here is what I think …

We give gifts to one another and to our community as an offering to Jesus. We can give the gift of love. We can give the gift of humility. We can give the gift of kindness and positivity. We can choose to be good people. We can be honorable people. We can respect one another. We can take hold of the negative thoughts that sometimes flood our subconscious and choose to be positive. We can stop and take a deep breath when we are about to lose our tempers. We can think twice before speaking harsh words or sending them in an email or text message. We can reach out to others, get involved in local mission and service projects in our community. We can make it a priority in our lives to take care of ourselves so that we can be strong and faithful servants. We can let go of the things that are holding us down and the things that are holding us apart from one another. We can share a meal, sit in worship and enjoy a time of fellowship with someone who we might not always agree with or get along with.

There are the ways that we can give back to all that Jesus has given to us. Will it always be easy? Not necessarily. But God is always with us to give us strength.

During his time on earth, Jesus gave us the gift of these two sacraments. Today, Jesus appears to us through the waters of baptism and a meal of bread and wine or juice. These are the eternal gifts that he has given to us here on earth.

And I think we can give back to Jesus by reaching out to one another in the simplest of ways.

In the end, the sermon worked itself out. In fact, I daresay the entire worship came together quite nicely. Because I cannot think of a better way to begin to think about giving back to Jesus than by acknowledging and giving thanks for the things that he gave to us.

What gifts will you bring to the baby Jesus this year?

Amen.

2 thoughts on “Bringing Our Gifts To The Baby Jesus

  1. Hi Sarah, I started following your blog and decided to comment. I enjoyed reading your sermon. I also enjoyed your photo. We had a beautiful day in Oregon too. We had fog all day yesterday, and today we had nice sunshine. My daughter showed me your blog and I have to say it has been fun looking at. Thanks.

    Paula

    1. Hi Paula,

      I’m so glad you are following along! I have never been to Oregon, but have heard that Portland is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. I hope you’re having a great week!

      Sarah

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