Online Sunday Service – 3rd January 2021

Good morning all, I hope you are well and keeping safe. Please find this weeks’ Sunday Service here for you if you should wish to take a wee while to relax and listen to it. Take care and God bless. Iain

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The visit of the Magi

 

 

Good Morning all,

How are you?  I hope you are managing to keep warm and well.

 

And may I begin by wishing you all a Healthy and Happy new year. I hope your festivities all went as well as they could in the current circumstances.

 

Today, our focus is on the Wise men who travelled to pay homage to the Heavenly baby, Jesus Christ.

 

This is the time of  “Epiphany’ which begins on the 6th January the “old Christmas day” – and incidentally that is the “12th Night” so  Wednesday is the last chance to take all your decorations down! J

 

But before we think about all that, let us pray.

 

Almighty and everlasting God,

We come to bring our worship and our praise, for you are the great and glorious God who

Gives us life and in all it fullness.

 

This is the day which reminds us

of how you led the Magi on their journey,

your light was with them —a guiding star,

a sign of your presence, a call to follow,

until they came to the place where the child lay.

Forgive us that we are so often closed to your guidance, unable or unwilling to see your guiding hand, more concerned with our own way than yours, reluctant to commit ourselves to anything when the final goal is not clear.

Forgive us for talking of faith as a journey, but not so willing to take that journey of faith, preferring instead to take a comfortable road of our own choosing, leading to a safe destination.

Receive us in all our weakness –

give us your strength –

and go with us on our way, we pray.

and

As we journey through life – help us to seek for those who are in need, the hungry and the homeless, the sick and the bereaved, those seeking understanding and peace in their lives.

May we help to bring light into their darkness and so show them the love of  your Son for all mankind.

 

Father, we know that our lives are not always as you would wish them to be – we go our own way, doing our own thing,  rather than following your ways.

 

Forgive us, we pray – guide us to find the Christ which came to show us the way to everlasting life, so that we might spend a life of joy and expectation of the glories yet to come.

 

Hear now our silent prayers Lord, as we bring to you our own prayers of confession – and for those we know and love – and for those we know who need a prayer this day…….

 

Hear us now  – as we gather all these thought and pray,  in the peace of our silence…

…… as we take a short time for your own, personal prayers………….

 

Forgive us father, bless us with your mercy and your grace, we pray.

 

Lord, we know that you hear us when we pray to you in Faith – so hear us now, as we say the family prayer  – the LORD’S prayer –

 

Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. the power and the glory forever…. Amen.

 

We have 2 Readings today…

 

Our O.T. Reading this morning is taken from the prophet Isaiah and prophesies the coming of one who is the ‘light of God’  – one who will dispel the darkness in which many in the world live.

And you might see an early prophesy too – of ones who will come bearing gifts.

 

And our second reading this morning tells of the visit of the Magi – the three wise men or three kings as they are sometimes called – again a well known story – but there is more to this visit than meets the eye –

 

Let us Hear the Word of God ~

 

Isaiah 60 : 1 – 3

The glory of Zion

60 ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

6 Herds of camels will cover your land,
young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
bearing gold and incense
and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”

And

Matthew 2 : 1 – 12

The Magi visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;  for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

 

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Amen.

This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God.

 

SERMON

Well – here we are –  3rd of January – the festivities are behind us – the celebrations over – resolutions made – and some already broken – and nothing left but the bills to pay.

 

Over the past couple of  weeks, we heard of the census, the trip to Bethlehem, the “no room at the inn”, the stable, angels, and the shepherds— all very familiar and rather comforting.

But there’s a danger that we let them become just “traditional”, like Christmas pudding and mince pies – that the familiar words just wash over us.

Christmas has gone – and now we really are ‘back to the old clothes and porridge!’ J

Christmas may be over – but the story, the message of Christmas is just begun.

But are we any the wiser for it? What have we learned – what have we understood?

Well –  if we look behind the words – read between the lines – we see that this is much more than a nice story to tell the children at Christmas – but a cosmic narrative of God’s own son – the one sent to bring us help and hope, coming quite literally , from heaven – into the daily – everyday lives of everyday people like you and I.

It’s an amazing story of God and of Angels – yet it’s also a very real and human story too – one that touches the lives of each one of us – if, as the Bible says – we have the ears to hear it – and the eyes to see.

So let’s have a closer look at this amazing story –

We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem – why Bethlehem and not, say, Jerusalem?

Well – Bethlehem had a long history – much of which is recorded in the Old Testament for us.

It was here that Jacob had buried Rachel and set up a pillar of memory beside her grave – and we can read about that in Genesis chapter 48.

It was here, in Bethlehem that the humble gleaner Ruth had lived when she married Boaz – and that’s recorded for us in the book of Ruth.

But perhaps more importantly – Bethlehem was the home and city of David – that shepherd boy who slayed Goliath – and was later called by God to be a great king.

And it was this which lay in the minds and the psyche of the Jewish people – Bethlehem was a holy city – and it was from here, the prophets had foretold, that one day –  another king would come – from the line of David – but this would be the king of all kings – the Saviour, the Messiah – the Chosen one.

Well, that day had come – the Saviour was here – God had crept into the world with no sound other than the cry of a baby in that silent, holy night.

The Angels proclaimed his arrival – the Shepherds came to see – and Wise men came to pay Him homage.

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And these ‘wise men’ have always fascinated me.

 

Who were they ? Where did they come from ? Were they kings or just ‘wise’ men?

 

Some say there were philosophers – others say they were astrologers – and the very word ‘Magi’ sounds uncomfortably close to the word “Magic” doesn’t it?

 

Even their very names are unknown – although legend has it that they were called – Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar.

Persian holy men who were skilled in philosophy, medicine, natural science and interpreting dreams.

They watched the heavens for signs – they read the ancient writings – the world was in turmoil and unrest – and a feeling of eager expectancy was in the air.

 

The Jewish people greatly resented the Roman occupation and appealed to God for help.

 

And it was into this atmosphere that Jesus was born – the Saviour they had asked for – the Saviour God had promised.

 

And so, the wise men set out on their dangerous mission –  to see this wonderful occurrence for themselves.

 

Chronologically, it’s believed that it was some months after the Nativity scene that they actually reached the Holy family – but it is celebrated on the 12th day – which is the 6th January – the day of the Epiphany which means enlightenment,  illumination, finally understanding who this baby really is.

 

But I’d like to bring your attention to the last 2 verses of our N.T. reading ~ “then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said ~ “go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

 

Of course, Herod’s motives were led by his paranoia – he wanted this new ‘king of the Jews’ – this threat to his position and power – removed once and for all.

 

But God had other plans !…..

 

The words of Herod – might – with better motives – lead us to “go and make careful search for Jesus” for ourselves.

 

In some sense we are, or ought to be, like those wise men – some still searching for Jesus – others have found him and their lives are never to be the same, that they go back to their everyday lives changed people – they ‘return by another way.’

 

For those of you who have already found Him – you will know only too well the joy – the deep inner peace – which His presence brings to your everyday life.

 

For those of you who have yet to come to know Him – I encourage you to continue your search – many have given up along the way – but Christ is here, watching, waiting – willing you to open your heart to His love – and open your mind to the truth that this wonderful and awesome promise is there – just for you.

 

Don’t give up your search – don’t be put off –

And one day you will find him – He’s there, waiting for you

 

What a glorious day that will be !

 

Amen.

And may God bless this preaching of His holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

 

Let us pray ~

Lord Jesus Christ, though the journey is long and I encounter obstacles along the way, help me to keep searching to know you better, until that wonderful day when I enter the very gates of Heaven – into your kingdom and meet you face to face – and live there in eternal peace.

Amen.

 

Thee wise men brought Jesus gifts – what can we – what can you give to him?

 

Well – all he really wants is you – your life and your heart – and for that – he promises you a lifetime of hope and an eternity of love.

 

Sounds good to me – how about you??

 

Food for Thought

 

It was just after Christmas when I saw a poster outside a church with a picture of the Three Wise men on Camels – and a motto underneath which really made me think – and I hope it’ll make you think too –

 

So – I’d like to leave you with this thought – it is the words on the poster –

It simply said  –

 

WISE MEN SEEK JESUS…

 

….  DO YOU ??”

 

For your own sake – I truly hope and pray that you do – man or woman – because, you see, the rewards are, quite literally, out if this world!! And that’s a promise!

 

Food for thought for all of us.

Amen.

 

BLESSING

 

Go now in love – joy and peace –

 

Go and share God’s love, peace, hope and joy with all you meet.

 

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you – be with your families and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day – and everyday.   Amen.

 

Take care and May God Bless you – and your loved ones.

 

Have  good week – and Please – keep safe

 

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

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And can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that our Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of  personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.

All welcome.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10

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