Worship 12-23-18  Be Open To … Gifts Given

Sermon at Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Church on
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Audio link – Right-click, open in new tab to play: Kinmundy or Wesley. Right-click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: Slides.

TRANSCRIPT (A transcript may be posted when it is available.)

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.

Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.

VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.

MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)

Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple-makers.

Advent Series: Are You Ready For Christmas?

12-23-18  Be Open To … Gifts Given

Matthew 2:1-15  Audio  Blog  Slides

Transcription details:

Audio 12 23 2018.mp3

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the neighbor of my neighbor, of my neighbor, of my neighbor, of my neighbor, of my neighbor, of my neighbor is my neighbor. And the Lord says that we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the minute we get that down, God says, “Now look who I am.” That’s not a stranger, that’s your neighbor. That’s not someone that I don’t care about, I love them too. We are all connected, but just like what happens, sometimes as Eva said with your phone, sometimes it’s not a very good connection. That’s something we can work on. Acts 20:35, I’ll quote something that is not in the gospel, so it’s quite interesting. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling, one must help the weak remembering the words of the Lord Jesus how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I want to begin by telling you of the real failing that I have. I had so much faith that when I go through the line at the [inaudible], I think that I am not going to need a napkin. Some people would say that’s not faith, that’s actually arrogance and they might be right. And in fact, I don’t need one napkin, I actually need several but I always forget. And so I find myself back at the table. I was at the [inaudible] this past Wednesday. I find myself back at the table, I’ve got lots of food and no napkins. I am very thankful that I’m surrounded by people who care and love and pay attention to their neighbor because I stood up to go get back and get my napkins and Steve Shoots looks over at me and he says, “You need a napkin?” Because you see, he was smarter than I was, he had more than one and he actually picked it up and waved it at me a little bit, “Need a napkin?” And here’s what I did, here’s the mistake I want to share with you. Here’s the mistake, I shook my head and I said, “No.”
Now, why would a human being do that? My dad came from Red Bud, Illinois. Red Bud is a German town. If you need something, there are people in a town like that that will make fun of you. The only way to not get teased and bullied and persecuted in a town like that is to never need anything, to never need anything from anybody and I learned that. I soaked it up from my father. “I don’t need you. I need a napkin but I’ll get my own.” Sorry, Steve. I’ll need to apologize to him but it’s like [inaudible] sit down. “I don’t need you.” Well, before I could even leave, Shirley who I was sitting next to, she looks at me and she goes, “You need a napkin?” [inaudible], “No, I can handle it. I’ll go get my own, I can handle it.” So I went over to get my napkin and I got distracted when I went by the desserts. Came back with dessert and my God I forgot my napkin. I had to go back again, but finally, I was successful and it was a good thing because I needed the napkin. That’s for sure. And this is a problem with this phrase, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” because some of us, like me, have taken that in and it makes us very anxious if someone tries to bless us. As if to let someone help us was an admission that we were failing or there was something wrong with us. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive, that’s true, but I want to tell you, it is also more blessed to receive than to give. And let me explain what that means. If I want you to have some tomatoes I can give you some tomatoes, but if you are never allowed to give back to me, the only thing you will learn from that is to receive from other people. And if that goes on for decades, you’ll become a person who expects the world to take care of them and you will never give back. Now, God wants you to receive. God is a very generous giver and Steve, and surely, he wanted me to have a napkin. They’re very generous people. But if I have a desire to teach them how to give, and I think God wants to teach us all how to be generous and give. You need to let them have the experience of giving. And when they make their attempts to give to you, you need to let them give to you. A little boy came home with a drawing from first grade, handed it to his mom, and he said, “Mom, I want you to put that on the refrigerator. I want you to treasure that forever.” And the mom goes, “Well, okay, honey. I will, but what is it?” And the little boy looked at her with the greatest of score and said, “Mom, it’s an elephant. Can’t you see that?” They put it on the fridge. Friends, people are bringing us gifts all the time and if you have that red button problem that I have, a lot of time you don’t even notice. But see, here’s the thing, if God is going to teach us how to give, if God is going to teach people to be givers, if God is going to teach people to be generous, if God’s going to teach people not to worry about themselves, but to be concerned about everyone, God not only needs people who model giving, but God needs people who’ll allow other people to give them. I have always had, throughout my entire life, a great problem with that because  on my  my mother raised me. “Don’t you ever be a burden to someone else.” And so frequently, in fact, to be honest, this happened yesterday. I came over to do something and Sandy and her family were getting ready to have a brunch. Walked into the kitchen. Cinnamon rolls. Wonderful. And she looked at me and said, “We’re having brunch, you want to come over and eat?” And this is when Redbud and Spardo, which is my mum’s hometown. This one they both kicked in and said to me, “No, you don’t want to be a burden.” “If you eat all you want someone won’t get the cinnamon rolls that they need.” “No, need to cry and you don’t want to be a burden.” So I didn’t come over and have a free meal. If you know as preachers a free meal that’s very hard for us to turn down. But I want to tell you this is a problem because if you don’t allow other people to give. They’ll learn the wrong lesson for what you give to them. This also applies to prayers because if you’ve heard me say this whole month. The greatest gift that you could give to your neighbors is to pray for them when they get into trouble during the Christmas season. The giving of gifts is at the heart of Christmas. It all goes back to the Wise Men. Now, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea the days of Herod the King. Behold Wise Men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is He who’s been born King of the Jews?” “For we have seen His star in the East and we’ve come to worship Him.” These astrologers used algebra and mathematics to calculate where the star was over. And they came all the way from the east – probably Babylon, probably Persia – into the kingdom where Herod is King. And they went to Herod and they said, “Where is the King?” Now, what they didn’t know? What you may not know is that Herod was the kind of king who literally poisoned and killed all of his relatives that might be a rival to the throne. Not a very good king. So by relying on him in logic, they made a huge mistake. Verse three. When Herod the King heard this he was troubled. He was actually very angry and all Jerusalem with him – verse four – and assembly all of the chief Priests, and the scribes of the people. He inquired of them where the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah, was to be born. Now, here’s what we need to understand from that. We think that everyone in Israel was focused on the coming of the Messiah. But here’s the reality. The king of the Jewish people didn’t even have a clue. He had to sermon the experts. Jesus coming and took them by surprise. So he assembled the religious experts; chief priests, and scribes of the people, and he asked them [inaudible] where the Christ is to be born. And they told him in Bethlehem of Judea. A little village about seven miles south of Jerusalem on the road to Eygpt. Bethlehem, in the land of Judea are by no means least amongst the rulers in Judah. From you, shall come a ruler who will govern my people, Israel. So Herod is sly. He sermons the Wise Men secretly and ascertains from them what time the star appeared, how long has the star been shining? How old is this baby now? And then he sent the Wise Men on to Bethlehem saying, “Go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him bring me word that I too may come and worship him.” Now, I’m assuming that as the Wise Men are traveling to Bethlehem they are praying. Because all over sudden there’s an answer to their prayers. And when they had heard the king they went their way and Lo, all over sudden the star that they had seen in the east now, they could see it right in front of them. Apparently, they couldn’t when they went to Herod. Apparently, they had lost track of it but now, all over sudden the star was back. The star led them to the presences where the child was. The place where the child was. Verse 10, when they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Friends, if you pray for guidance, God will give you guidance. If you see that neighbor of yours what they most need is guidance. Because let’s face it people do stupid things and they hurt themselves and they hurt other people. You can pray for guidance for yourself. You can pray for guidance for your neighbor. And when you see God work you will rejoice exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and feel down and they worshipped him. And then opening their treasures they offered him gifts. Gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Now, it’s not quite obvious but you know what gold and frankincense and myrrh are? They are portable wealth. You may drive a very nice car but you cannot put your car in your pocket where a thief won’t try to steal it. This is wealth that you can hide and it is safe to travel with. Because guess what? They were going to need to travel. Verse 12. Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod. They departed to their own country via another way. And now, when they had departed that same night, behold an angel of the Lord, appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Take the gold, take the frankincense, take the myrrh because you need to get on the road, right now.” The Wise Men were the neighbors who provided Mary and Joseph what they needed. Because of their giving at the right time, the exact right time. The life of the baby Jesus was saved. Remember when the star appeared. The next morning Herod sent soldiers into this are to kill every male child two years old and younger. Every child. Now, we don’t know how large Bethlehem was. It might have been just a few children. But what a horrible tragedy. “Rise and take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there till I tell you.” “For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him. And the wise men through their generosity and precisely the right time, to somebody they had never met before but who was their neighbor, the baby Jesus survived to give to all of us what comes to us through his death [inaudible] and through his life. And he rose, Joseph rose and took the child with his mother by night and they departed to Egypt and remained there with all their wants and needs provided for with gift of gold and frankincense and myrrh until, the death of Herold. So the giving of gifts saved the life of the baby Jesus. What’s the greatest gift? Let’s get in an argument about whether its gold or frankincense and myrrh. Let’s get into argument about whether it’s a new car or a new iPhone or a new game system. Let’s not get into an argument what the greatest gift is. Let me just simply tell you what it is. The greatest gift is connection, because if you are connected to other people and you love them and they love you and God loves all of you through each other, pretty much all of those other things will get taken care of. The saddest person you know is the person who’s completely alone. The greatest gift that we can give anyone else is to connect together. And how do we connect to people? All you have to do is ask them how they are. And whatever they say if that becomes a conversation between the two of you will grow, and then you can take that connection with them and make a connection with God and prayer and say, “Lord, help my friend. Lord help my friend.” And the power will flow through you into their lives. And sometimes with that power, and just like the angel spoke to Joseph, you will hear an instruction. You know that land mower that’s sitting in the garage that you don’t use anymore. She needs that. We had a call come into the church office this week. Somebody who I don’t even know had heard about us. She said, “I don’t have any heat in my house. Do you have a heater?” “Yeah, I do.” I got one down in the basement. I got one down in the basement because sometimes is cold but you know, I haven’t been down in the basement in years. “Okay, we have a heater. You come up and get it. It’s a loan. I may go down in my basement next summer and need it.” But I had something that you need that I’m not using and you’re welcome to it. Look through your house friends. God may have given you stuff and you look and you go, “Why in the world do I have all of these junk?” I will tell you why you have it. What if your neighbors need it? And the best way to get rid of all that junk is to call them up and tell them to come up and haul it away. More often than you would think, God helps other people by you handing them what you don’t need. So, Kim, that’s where the heater is how to get through [the years?]. And we’re going to get that. Sooner or later we’ll be in Summer and she won’t need to be here. The [police?] let that [inaudible] because this week you may be aware that someone doesn’t have heat and you got a heater that you don’t need. But you’re saving just in case and your wife or your husband he’s saying why don’t you get rid of that piece of junk? And you keep saying, “Well, I might need it someday”. Friends, I’ll be honest with you. The day you find your neighbor needs it, that’s the day. It’s a sign from God. Emmanuel, a name for Jesus Christ we as Christians means God with us. And that means that we are connected. That is the heart of what [inaudible] Christmas. Well, friends here’s our normal world. We’re plugged into ourselves and you know something, that independent lifestyle that I don’t need you, don’t ask me for nothing, that works just fine when everything’s going just perfect. And nowadays where grandma lives in California and all our children live in New York and you’re the only one left here, that’s going to hit you in the [inaudible]. Because it works just fine as long as you don’t need anything and you don’t need anybody. This is the world, the normal world. And unfortunately, this is the normal church.
We work so hard in the church to make sure all of you are connected to God. But we need to give equal time to the reality that we should be connecting to other people particularly people who are not a part of the church. And how do we connect to people? We pray for them. But here’s the problem. If you start praying for people and you’re not connecting to where you’re helping them with what God helps you with, it’s going to wear you out. It’s going to drain you dry. If you’re helping other people, you need to be connected to God so that there’s a flow. And the reality is you also need to let those other people give back because what they need to do is to learn also how to give. When God works through us, many people’s prayer are answered. Because when you notice, you’re able to frame prayers of help. When you notice, you’re able to say thank God for answering prayers. You’re able to simply be amazed of how God works in the lives of people because they’re drawing power from you that is coming into you from God. So be open to noticing the needs of your neighbors. But also don’t make the [napkin?] mistake that I made. Be open to receiving back. Because what we need is a connection. And that connection happens when love is reciprocal because all year long, God is teaching other people how to love because you show them how to receive and how to give.
Let people give to you. You can repair the connections you have with people by showing just a little bit of love. Might be cookies. It  might be simply that you cared enough to say hello. Repair the connections you have with your neighbors by showing love. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are people who are able to give because you’ve been generous with us. Not only that Lord when the zucchini comes in, when the tomatoes come in they’re going to go to waste if we don’t give them away. Help us, Lord, to notice our neighbor because it just might be that we have what they need, what might be that we know that someone else has what they need and they want to get rid of all that extra zucchini, whatever it might be. Help us to notice how you work through us giving and receiving from [inaudible]. We ask for that to fill us with a new understanding of giving in our Christmas. We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen. What can I give them as poor as I am? Let’s stand to sing this hymn that reminds us of the gifts that we’re given at Christmas.
[music]

RESOURCES

The photo …

This post is based on the sermon “___” from the sermon series “___”
*date*, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from  http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_2018.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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