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Thursday, December 4, 2014

12032014 Wednesday of Advent 1

Sermon Audio

December 3, 2014
What are you offering?
May the offering of our time to be in the presence of our Lord be a blessing not only for our lives, but also our souls as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the entrance of the King of Kings!  AMEN.

Archimedes solved the question of a crime by simple density.  Farmers use density to determine how much fertilizer or phosphorous to put on a field.  And cities use density to determine how best to structure the utilities needed to supply a city with water, electricity and roads.  But what does density have to do with Gold.  Gold is one of the densest of precious metals.  And Gold is exactly what was offered by the first of the three wise men.

Tonight we begin our first of the three gifts of the Magi.  Typically the gifts and preaching on them is after Christmas, because the Magi and the gifts did not arrive on the scene of the inn in Bethlehem until January 6th, the 12th Day of Christmas.  But I chose these three gifts to preach upon, because they deserve more than just one day and one sermon.  These gifts have greater meaning and significance even for us here tonight.

The first gift of Gold is not only a priceless metal, but a color that denotes being set apart from others.  We use it on the Altar to highlight the symbols on the Altar.  We wear it on our fingers for wedding bands and even ear rings.  Our society even keeps accurate track of it daily on the reports from the stock exchange where countries used to not only stock pile gold, but use it as the basis for our money.  But of what significance is Gold for a child?  Why are the Magi offering it?  And most importantly during this Advent Season we have to answer the simple question, “What are you offering?”

Simply the gift of Gold offered to the Christ child in the manger is not to ‘buy favors’ by the Magi.  Just as we present our offering on Sunday not to gain favor, Gold was how one Magi presented a wealth that would be a great help to Joseph and Mary.  Remember Joseph and Mary did not arrive in Bethlehem by caravan, but alone and by Mary riding upon a donkey.  They did not have extravagant wealth only what they carried on their backs or in their meager purse.  The journey they were about to embark upon in fleeing to Egypt would not be cheap and the Gold offered by the Magi would insure they would not starve and be able to get established wherever they were headed, even to distant Egypt.  And the Magi was just the person God intended to use.

Chris Jackson in his book, “Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church” says, “People are the most common form of answered prayer.” (Kindle Location 1941)  And I believe Joseph and Mary didn’t know what to think.  Having experienced the Shepherds who came from the fields, the animals that bowed in adoration with the birth of Jesus, the Angels announcing the birth of Jesus Christ, the only thing their Jewish faith and heritage taught Mary and Joseph to do was to pray.  And these Magi were an answer to prayer.  This was God’s answer to Joseph and Mary and God used this Magi to bring Gold, exactly what they needed for the days, months and years ahead.

So I ask we who gather here this Wednesday evening during the first week of Advent, what gift do you bring to the Manger?  What are you offering?  God does not expect Gold.  God does not expect us to sell the land we farm, the cattle we tend, nor anything that has any materialistic value here on this earth.  God only asks us to humbly offer ourselves.

God wants us to offer ourselves so we can be used like the Gold given to Joseph and Mary in order for each and every one of us to be the hands of Christ for our world around us.  Whether it is remodeling the downstairs rooms of the church or kitchen, hands to make beer rocks as a fundraiser, cleaning the church in preparation for our Christmas celebration or donating of time or talents as one is able for the glory of God.  God only asks for us to offer ourselves in humble adoration of His coming in the manger.

For in offering ourselves on bended knee, like the animals in the stable and the Magi, our gifts offered from the heart will give the greatest Glory to our God Jesus Christ Who lies in the manger.  For Jesus Christ comes, not expecting gifts of great monetary worth measured from an earthly perspective, but great gifts measured from an eternal perspective, God’s perspective.

May we respond to “what are you offering?” not with Gold, but with ourselves so we can honor God’s gift given to us in a lowly manger for all of mankind.  Including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this First Wednesday of Advent.  AMEN.

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