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Magi, the True worshippers

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“Magi, the True Worshippers”

December 18, 2005

Matthew 2: 1-12

3 names

Striking contrast

1) Jesus - the only one who is worthy of our worship and praise; but appears to be most fragile and vulnerable; without protection; on the human level, all he had was his poor parents and his naked body; things are not as they seem. Do you have the eyes to see? (cf. a baby - most beautiful things - one contains everything he/she can be in a most pure form, unblemished . . .) – seeing baby Jesus is the most wonderful thing

2) Herod --- disturbed, deceit/ He literally killed everyone who was a threat to his throne including one of his own wives; always afraid

Response to Jesus:

Pure jealousy, fear, rivalry and madness

3) Scholars – head only – had information, but seems to be detached from what’s happening (provides information, but no heart, no action)/

Scholars, professors (a believing scholar – an oxymoron?)

3) Magi - come, worship, overjoyed, open (presented); priests or kings?

Response to Jesus:

 Head and heart and action

              "Opened their treasures"                                                                             

The whole journey of the Magi - opening up

Didn’t have to come, but it was the right thing to do, it was the only thing they wanted to do

(No strings attached, no hidden agenda, no expectation of recognition, just pure worship)

The attitude of a worshipper

(Often our attitude is not pure, our hearts are polluted)

1) A marker (adjudicator, evaluator) attitude:

Everything is graded - praise and worship, sermon, etc.

(There is need for evaluation; but there is time for this. It is not when you come into worship.) / Improvement only comes through commitment to honest self-evaluation/ regular, honest and comprehensive evaluation of everything that happens in relation to worship – identifying people who can provide honest and valuable feedback about the worship service

(I've heard that before vs. I've lived that before.)

b) "What's in it for me?" attitude:

The attitude of our society - If it doesn't square or bring me any good, benefit, I'm out.

(There is a place for this kind of talk. Church needs to be able to provide what is needed - child care, facility, programs, etc, but it's not our primary motivation for coming to church)

3) Obligation, contractual, by force attitude

 Whatever motive you come, it's O.K. as long as we don't get stuck there. Our journey is to constantly grow and move toward pure worship, letting go of our impure motives . . .

Be in the presence of God

The attitude of a true worshipper – the attitude of the Magi

1) Prepared

The Magi came prepared

Get mentally; spiritually ready (Scripture reading, prayer)

2) Focusing on God, not God focusing on us

One dominant person on their minds – themselves

Focus their attention on God

3) Attitude and action

Magi acting on their conviction

Engaging in efforts to intentionally glorify God

Attitude – privileged, humbled, acknowledge, view

4) Intimacy

Magi’s journey – journey of drawing closer to God (*see below for a separate reflection)

Drawing closer to Jesus

Become intimate with God

Problem with intimacy – uncomfortable or unfamiliar with such closeness

5) Responsibility of the worshipper

Magi – no praise and worship team; no sermon

Not getting them to worship

Our place/ time to be – corporate worship

Chester (from Community Christmas Concert – “I’m enjoying myself!”)

Suicide rate

Tract

Invite one to worship together

* Drawing Closer

The whole Journey of the Magi – drawing closer to Jesus, culminating in seeing Jesus and worshipping Him

Cf.) our time – drawing farther away from Jesus – Christmas – most secularized holiday; a picture of my daughter – Christmas tree and Jesus – somehow, it looked out of place

Seeing and worshipping Jesus – This is what Christmas is all about

Also, time to draw closer to one another.

Why is it that Christmas is the most isolated and lonely time of the year for many – suicide rate, despite the appearance of jolly and bright decorations and lightings, etc

 

"Opening Our Treasures"

 December 23, 2005

There is a box (or a bag) here.

We don't know what's in it. What do you think is in it?

(Terrorist - bomb; postman - mails; librarian - books, etc)

If you open this box, what do you think is going to come out?

What would you put in if you were to put a gift for the love of your life?

There were people who loved someone – came all the way, crossed desert, mountains, valleys, sea, river

Magi: singleness of heart – worship (love for Jesus) – carrying the treasure box – opened it – what came out? – What’s most precious (gold, incense, myrrh) – gave what are most precious – in actuality, giving their hearts

(Vs. Herod: divided heart - double-minded - unstable, no peace)

If you are to open the box of your heart, what would be coming out?

Are we willing to open it? What is your fear?

(Spending whole life accumulating gold – so closed, so cold; always wanting things, never being able to give)

But, our God is God who gives. 

God opened his treasure box - His gift for us – giving what’s most precious

3 - Baby Jesus, Cross, eternal life

1) Baby Jesus – born as the Savior of the world

2) Cross – forgiveness of sins, and the gift of salvation

3) Eternal life – rose again from the dead

 There is a box.

What do you think is in it?

(Open the box)

It’s empty!!

You know what,

It’s up to us to fill the box.

(How are you going to fill it?)

Our presentation/ service - we're opening our gift boxes to God and to one another.

I pray that the box of your heart is not empty, cold, but filled with things to give – full of love, grace, etc . . .

Luke 2: 1-20

Bethlehem - insignificant city

Manger - not only insignificant but also pitiful, embarrassing place

But becomes God's dwelling place

Presence makes the whole difference

cf) Jacob's experience

cf) church building - bricks, walls, woods, etc - God's presence - becomes His dwelling place in His Spirit

They all turn to a place of worship

Presence makes the whole difference

Joshua and Eunice going to the Carnegie Hall to minister – around that area – a place of potential danger and conflict – but because of their presence, their serving, it becomes a place of warmth, love, and hope

Clara and my family – going about the neighborhood to hand out the chocolate boxes – could be faced with suspicion and hostility, but there was not one person who even frowned his/her face; such warm reception with thanks and smiles – presence of children, our presence makes the whole difference

Visiting one place (an apartment) – transforming the place into a place of prayer and praise

Walls, bricks, empty space – but the moment you walk in, everything is different. It starts to have meaning, significance.

Life starts to happen with all the things it offers, but most of all it is transformed into a place of worship.

I’m a blessing carrier (Christ is in you. Because of his presence in you, you become the channel through whom God’s blessing flows through.) – at Starbucks – wherever you are, you are blessing carriers.

(God chooses insignificant people

God takes insignificant places to dwell

God's history - History of the marginal)

Awaken to see what’s really going on

Field of Dream – not seeing the baseball players - losing innocence

The Polar Express – not hearing the bell – losing innocence

Hardship, difficulties come – people give up, stop running

They all missed it

Rain stopped yesterday! – God’s blessing is around the corner

A great company of the heavenly host – sound of angel’s praising and announcement – Jesus, the Savior of the world, lying in a manger

People all missed it.

Too ordinary, insignificant, too mundane

We miss it all – we look for the spectacular, we look for big and wide and well-known, and we miss God’s working in our midst.

We miss rainbows, we miss little flowers, we miss blue skies, all of which sing to us in their own voices the love of God

We miss chances to see God and encounter Him even through one another; hear their stories and come to know one another – one lady – strong, bossy, etc

1)      God’s presence

2)      Awareness

“Nearby”

 

December 17, 2005

 

V.8: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”

 

Someone who’s dying to love you

God’s passionate love – He leaps over the boundaries of heaven and earth; the improbable, impenetrable gap; He crosses over the bottomless pit of sin – to come to us and be with us, to live among us – v.7: “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

God’s passionate love for us – His Son being born as a baby

One desire – to make things right; to restore the relationships that have been broken by sin – broken relationships between God and man, between man and man

He did it by dying on the cross

Vertical –

Horizontal –

Our relationships still full of prejudice, bias, fear and doubts

What we need is Jesus – not Santa Clause, presents, Christmas trees or snow

(Survey – What first comes to mind at Christmas? The Christian times – 29.9% - Santa Clause; 14.3% - Christmas trees; 10.7% - presents; 10.2% - snow; 7.2% - Jesus)

Something is gone terribly wrong.

Christmas trees or presents cannot restore the broken relationship that exist between us – only Jesus can

“Crash” – the whole movie is about this theme – racism, prejudice, stereotyping

Tension, hatred – whites, blacks, Hispanic, Arabs, Asians

(All of them with problems, pains, hurt in their own lives people do not know about. All of them are people who need to be loved, who need someone to lend their shoulders to lean on)

Some look powerful, some look bad, some look ugly – but they all need God’s love – they need Jesus

They have this deep prejudice (call it racism, phobia, bias) toward other people who are different from them.

We have this prejudice; we have this fear & suspicion toward other people

Toward other races, toward the poor; toward our own race sometimes; toward church members; toward our spouse even.

Jesus came to do away with that prejudice, fear and suspicion so that love is the operating law and principle in our relationships.

And this is our small attempt to open up, receive, love the people who are around us.

All of our presentations (small and vulnerable, but what we have) are our love offerings to all of you who came here tonight; our prayer to reverse the curse of brokenness and fear.

Have you wondered why, out of all the other people, shepherds are the ones who came to Jesus?

(Not kings or generals, or businessman, etc.)

The reason is very simple – because they were nearby. When Jesus was born, the shepherds were Jesus’ neighbors at that time. They were near to him – not only in their geographical proximity, but also in their hearts. Their hearts were open to see the king in a baby. So they ran and saw the baby Jesus; they saw the king who came to restore and redeem us from all our brokenness

Sometimes we can be very near in terms of our locations; but we could be miles away in our hearts; there could be this insurmountable walls that exist between us – we want to break down those walls; we want to extend our hands in love

You are our neighbors. And we welcome you. Tonight – the walls of fear and prejudice may break down – may God give us peace

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