Waynedale United Methodist Church
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December 17, 2017 Sermon

“Christ Will Come: Family is Important!”

Matthew 1:1 – 17

Ted Jansen December 17 am, 2017  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        Christ will come.  We know that and believe that.  As we look at how each author of the Gospels begins writing about Jesus we come to Matthew.  Matthew writes with the family in mind.  I say this because we read about all the names and generations of people that were born before Jesus came on this earth. 

            When Jewish families would hear the names they would tell the stories of those people.  You see each generation is a part of forming your life.  Each person is important and special, and each person is a part of the larger community and heritage.        

            That is why Matthew mentions Jesus Christ after he records the lineage of Jesus.   

            In the Ryrie Study Bible a note about Matthew said that this book needed to address certain questions for the Jews about Jesus.  “Was He in fact the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament?  If He was why did He fail to establish the promised kingdom?  Will it ever be established?  What is God’s purpose in the meantime?”

            Matthew wanted to begin this Gospel in a traditional way that the Jews could relate to.  So, the actual birth story, as recorded in Mathew’s Gospel, is not mentioned until verse 18.    

 

2.)        As we look at the names most of them are not known to us.  Yet, they have a story to tell. 

There is the name Solomon.  What do you know about him?  He was born from Bathsheba, who was Uriah’s wife.   David committed adultery with her and when she found out she was pregnant David had her husband killed.  The child that Bathsheba delivered eventually died and the second child born to David and Bathsheba was Solomon.     

There was Boaz who was the father of Obed.  This child came from Ruth who was from Moab.  She was not a Jewish woman, but a foreigner.    

The name Manasseh described a man who was a very evil.  He reigned and ruled for 55 years.  Manasseh did things that were even worse than the pagan nations that were all around them.     

            As we think of some of the names we come to the conclusion that this was an imperfect family.  There are stories of those who were obedient and pleasing to God and those who were not.  Matthew wanted all to know that Jesus was born into the lineage of these people.  Wow.         

 

3.)        As you think about your family and the generations what stories could you tell?  If you think that you don’t have stories to tell then I have to give some truth, you must be the person that the other family members talk about when you are not around!!

            What are the stories, what are the traditions, what are the foods, what are the types of things that you do as a family around the Christmas season? 

Family is important and how we have lived out our family life creates expectation and excitement as we live in these days. 

What is a family tradition around a meal, place, practice, etc. that you look forward to or have done for years?  (Share with another person). Who wants to share one or two with all?  (Invite people to share.) 

When our family was young Sue would buy each one an ornament and I would buy them a book, as our way of blessing them.   We would pick a night to sleep under the tree after we had driven around the town to see the lights.  At this time I would make up a story to tell them while we were getting ready to sleep.  These are fun memories now to look back upon.  Yet, I can remember some times when we were all sick around Christmas.     

           

4.)        Matthew wants us to focus on family.  We seek to understand Mary, Joseph, and their family life.  This family did not have things easy.  Consider how their family life began. 

Mary was pregnant and the father was not Joseph.  Mary believed that it was the Holy Spirit.  That is what the angel had told her. 

Joseph found out that Mary, who he was pledged to be married to in the future, was pregnant.  He knew he was not the father and Mary told him it was the Holy Spirit.  Joseph determined that he needed to divorce her.  Can you imagine the stress on them? 

Then they get word that the government was taxing people because they wanted more money.  This was not a tax cut, but a tax increase.  The people had to travel away from their current home to get registered in a census in the town of their family origin. 

This family had tension, they had a rough start, and they had the hassle of the government and travel.  All this while Mary was pregnant and almost ready to deliver a child.  I am sure Mary did not feel physically well. 

They entered a busy city and as they were trying to find a room to rest they discovered that there was not even a room for them to stay in.  Mary laid down in a stable where the animals were, at least she could get off her feet.  Joseph was there but not sure what to do for Mary.  It is a picture of a family under stress, lots of it.     

In the midst of this a child was born and they loved this baby, this child, their first born.  When their child was born all the stress of the past months melted away as they looked and saw the baby.  This child was loved by them.   

     

5.)        “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.  The stars in the sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”  

            This moment in the stable, amidst the animals, was a gift to this family.  I am sure that Mary, and Joseph held Jesus and loved him, blessed him and gave their heart to him.   

 

6.)        As Jesus grew up in this Jewish family the love that He was blessed with on the day that He was born continued for years and years and years by his mother and father. 

I discovered that families in the Jewish tradition celebrate the Sabbath on Friday night until Saturday night.  This was done as a day of rest and in response to the fourth of the Ten Commandments. (“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.) 

As I was thinking of Joseph and Mary and their Jewish family I discovered that there is a part of the Sabbath ceremony that involves blessing your children.  

            On each Friday night there are things that Jewish families do with food, candles, prayers, and scripture to remember God’s salvation, God’s creation, God’s blessing and the importance of rest for our lives.  It is a time to focus on God and the family.  One of the aspects of the Sabbath ceremony is that the father, and mother, spend time blessing their children. 

The blessing involves the parent laying their hand on the child and repeating a blessing.  The child knew they were blessed by this touch and this prayer.  

Another interesting part of this custom is that the father and mother will whisper something in the ear of each child.  They will whisper something that they were especially proud of, or enjoyed, or wanted to mention from the week.  It is a personal quiet, private, blessing for them. 

 

7.)        I am picturing Joseph offering his blessing each Friday during the Sabbath ceremony to Jesus.  I can see Mary blessing Jesus when He is 3, 12, and 15.  This is what happened in their family.  Each child was blessed.       

            This is what God desires for each family.  God desires to see that each mom, each dad, bless their children with touch, words of prayer and a whisper of love. 

            Can you picture your child, if you are a parent, or can you picture a child in your life?  Can you picture a touch upon their head or shoulder and a prayer of blessing?  Can you picture a personal whisper of love to them about something you have seen in their lives? 

Let God use you to bless.  Let the Holy Spirit bring God’s blessing. 

Can you picture your loving God reaching out to touch you and offer a blessing to you and whispering in your ear something that God is proud of that you did this past week? 

Blessings to our family and blessings from our family come in many different forms, not just a prayer, a touch and a whisper.  Here is a story about a girl and a Christmas present.   

 

8.)        I knew I was not supposed to be quite so excited. I was too old for that. At age eleven, the oldest and my mom’s “grown up” girl, I had to keep my cool. I was in middle school after all. But every chance I got, when I was alone, I checked each present under the tree. I read every tag and felt every package, guessing at the contents within. I had examined each gift so often that I could tell which present went to which person without even looking at the tags.

It had been a tough year for my family. Whenever my mom looked over at the tree and scattered presents, she would sigh and warn us, “There won’t be as much for Christmas this year. Try not to be disappointed.”

Christmas had traditionally been a time for my parents to spoil us. In years past, the presents would pile up and spill out from under the tree, taking over the living room. I had heard the phrase “giving is better than receiving,” but thought that whoever had said that must have been out of their mind. Getting presents was the whole point! It was the reason I couldn’t get to sleep on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas morning, we eagerly waited in the hallway until Dad told us everything was ready. We rushed into the living room and let the wrapping paper fly. We made weak attempts to wait and watch while other family members opened their presents, but as the time passed we lost our self-control.

“Here’s another one for you,” said Mom as she handed me a package. I looked at it, confused. Having spent so much time examining the presents before Christmas, I recognized this one. But it had not been mine. It was my mom’s. A new label had been put on it, with my name written in my mother’s handwriting.

“Mom, I can’t…”

I was stopped by my mother’s eager, joyful look—a look I could not really understand. “Let’s see what it is, honey. Hurry and open it.”

            It was a blow dryer. Though this may seem but a simple gift, to me it was so much more. Being an eleven-year-old girl, I was stunned. In my world, where receiving outweighed giving by light years, my mom’s act of selflessness was incomprehensible. It was a huge act. Tears filled my eyes and I thought in disbelief about how much my mom must love me to give up her Christmas so I could have a few more presents.

            I have always remembered that Christmas fondly. It had such an impact on me. As an adult with children in my life whom I adore, I can now understand my mom’s actions. I see how she was not “giving up her Christmas” as I had thought, but was finding an even greater joy in her Christmas because giving truly is better than receiving. My mom’s simple act meant the world to me.  (Jennifer Yardley Barney  CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL)

 

9.)        When Joseph and Mary would bless baby Jesus and then Jesus as a boy and their other children they might have used these traditional words of blessing.      

            “May God bless you and keep you.  May God’s presence shine on you and be gracious to you.  May God’s presence rise toward you and give you peace.”