Anyone out there make New Year’s Resolutions? If so, are they realistic? I don’t make resolutions myself, although I do have some goals in mind, one’s that I planned last year and will probably continue to work on. Things like lose a few pounds and get back into shape. Now if a few of you would like to come and eat some of the leftover sweets from Friday’s open house, you’d be helping get off to a great start.
One friend of mine set a resolution to listen to more country music. For him, I’m pretty sure it’s not a difficult one to achieve. For me, I don’t think I can do more than the 10 or so songs I heard last year. Sorry, I just can’t do it.
Some people like to dream big when they make resolutions, things like run a marathon or lose a lot of weight. Others pick small things like call friends more often or read a book a month. If you pick resolutions, whether big or small, you need to commit to the process of achieving them. They need to be realistic.
No matter what you choose, there are steps you need to take to achieve them. There are changes you need to make in your life so you can incorporate the new direction you are hoping to take. Sometimes it means even giving up something you have been doing for your whole life. Something you may value a great deal.
The three wise men who come from the east travelled a great distance to come and find the new born king of the Jews. They probably travelled at least a few months over desserts and mountains making their way to Israel.
And after a brief stop at the palace in Jerusalem, a place where you would expect to find a new born king, they make their way to the home of Jesus and his parents.
We are given a few hints as to when this might be. Jesus is no longer in the stable, but now in a house in Bethlehem. And given Herod’s violent response to the threat of the child’s birth, where he kills all the children in Bethlehem under the age of two, we can guess Jesus is at most two years old at this time.
Herod was not a nice man, killing off anyone he saw as a threat to his reign of the region, including his own sons. Thankfully, for many people, he died shortly after this event.
As for the three wise men, they made their way to Bethlehem and found Jesus and his parents in a home. Then they performed the second act of worship to this King of the Jews. (the first being the shepherds)
They knelt before him, the one who’s star they observed rising to proclaim his birth, and they worshipped him. Then they offered the first recorded gifts to Jesus. Gifts worthy of a king. Gold, myrrh and frankincense. Gifts of great value.
From there the wise men made their way back home, avoiding Herod as to save the life of the child, as they were told to in a dream.
You have to wonder what these wise men were thinking. What they might have been expecting as they found the new king of the Jews. I can imagine they were surprised to see how humble he was living. How unceremoniously he lived and how uncelebrated he was. Just a normal child in a normal home.
Yet they believed. They could have easily said, “This can’t be what we thought it was” and turned back home. They still believed. They still gave gifts, they still worshipped Jesus.
Here we are some 2000 years later. Still worshipping, still offering gifts, still in awe and wonder over this child and the man-slash-God he would become.
What gifts can we offer in 2010?
Here’s a question I would like us to ponder. In one year’s time, when we look back at 2010 we see we did something really well. One thing that we did as a church that really excited us and made a difference.
What was it?
In 2010 what are we going to do as a church that works really well and we will be so excited and proud of? What are we good at?
I’ll tell you one thing we’re good at. Fellowship. We are a close community that loves one another and loves to be together.
Is that where we’ll start?
Maybe you see something else… some other gifts we have as a church that we can offer.
The three wise men brought great gifts to Jesus, valuable, extravagant gifts. What can be more valuable than offering ourselves to the ministry of Jesus Christ?
Our reading from Isaiah this morning is a beautiful promise of the coming Messiah and what he will offer; light in the darkness.
And it also speaks of how we will feel when we encounter the promised one. It says, “you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice…”
When we receive the gift of Jesus Christ, and return give ourselves to him we live in joy. It doesn’t mean everything will be perfect and right in our lives, but we live in the joy of God’s promise to us, and the promise of life eternal with Him.
The greatest gift we can offer is ourselves.
I would like us to consider what we can do as a church in 2010. I talked last fall about ministry and mission and what we can do.
I think we can change that focus a bit.
What I think we can focus on in 2010 is celebration. Let’s show one another and the community around us that we are having fun together. Let’s sing, eat, play, worship, mourn, cry together. Let’s live together in celebration of the one who came and gave his life for us.
Let’s live our lives as a community of followers of Jesus Christ, being joyful and rejoicing together in the gifts we are given and returning back to his service.
Let’s use the treasures we have to celebrate with one another his life and the lives we live as his disciples.
Then, we’ll see what happens next.