Waynedale United Methodist Church
Friday, May 26, 2017
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Dec 25, 2016 Sermon

“Family Stories”

Mathew 1:1 – 6, 17, 23 – 25

Ted Jansen December 25, 2016  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        How many of you know your grandfather’s father's name?  Perhaps you are into genealogy and you have traced your family line back several generations.  There are a lot of people who enjoy doing this. 

            When Kevin was born my father sent me several pages that his uncle had worked on with the Jansen family history.  That list of family names went back to 1,300 naming a lot of generations in the process.    

            As we heard the names of some of the family that lived before Joseph and Mary I wonder if they knew who their grandparent’s parent’s names were.  Who would that be?  According to Matthew it would be Eleazar.    

            Matthew believed it was important to include the names of the generations of families that preceded Jesus.  I believe it was to show the importance of Jesus’ family connection.  Jesus had a father, a mother, a grandfather, a grandmother, and relatives and was a part of the human story because he was in a family.  The holy and human came together in a family.    

 

2.)        The very first time I went to Israel was with Sue in 1989.  It was a powerful experience as we saw lots of special sights.  At each place we would imagine what happened in the various places as someone in our group would read scripture.  I am thankful to have had a chance to go back this past February.   

            When Sue and I were in Nazareth we were waiting for the bus to pick our group up.  We were on a sidewalk and I decided to walk around.  I heard some children playing and through a fence I saw some boys playing soccer.  They looked like they were around 10 – 12 years old and they were having a fun time, kicking that ball on the pavement. 

            Then it struck me, that if I could rewind 2000 years of history, I could at this moment in Nazareth be watching Jesus, as a boy, playing soccer with his friends.  He probably played and perhaps loved the game. 

            It made the life of Jesus real to me in a way that visiting the other sights didn’t.  Jesus was in a family and he grew up in this town.  What did Jesus know about Jacob, Matthan, Eleazar, and others?  What kinds of stories were told to Jesus as he grew up about his family?  What was important to celebrate, and what stories were re-told.      

 

3.)        “Family stories” are important to us, especially this time of year.   

            The Barna Research Group did a poll to find out what the number one thing people looked forward to when they thought of Christmas.  Do you know what it is?  It is the time together as a family.  (Christianity Today, Nov 9, 1996.)

            We come together to create new stories and remember stories from the past.  What new “family stories” are you telling or creating this year? 

 

4.)        *I did a funeral years ago for a person and heard about a family picture that was always taken on the steps going up to the second floor of the home.  Some of these were displayed at the visitation with the family.  They talked about that tradition with good feelings.    

            *Some families have a tradition that involves traveling at Christmas to see one another.  Some families have a tradition of going to a Christmas Eve service together.  Some families like to eat certain foods around Christmas.  Some families like to give crazy gifts at Christmas.  There are family stories that are told, remembered and celebrated. 

            *Family stories are the ones being told in letters we send and receive to each other.  We send pictures and they tell a story, we share our “news” with people we haven’t seen for years.  We want others to know our “family stories.” 

            *Some times the stories we tell or remember focus on sad times; times that are hard to go through, times when these days remind us of what is missing in our lives.  We know that the days after Christmas can be some of the toughest weeks to go through because there doesn’t seem to be a lot to look forward to.  It can be time when we struggle with discouragement, loneliness, tiredness, depression, fatigue.  Some of this is normal, some of this is seasonal, and some of this is a part of our family stories.    

 

5.)        In 1984 I went home to Pennsylvania to be with my family after Christmas.  It was a fun time, but there was also a lot of stress going on.  A family member was going through some mental health challenges.  I think it was probably the beginning of the discovery of a bi polar diagnosis.  Things were very stressful and hard.   I remember talking to my Mom and Dad and praying with them and others and feeling helpless.  I lived with things going on that I didn’t understand with this family member. 

            I remember leaving Pa to come back to school and be a student pastor.  I felt lonely, depressed, confused and lost.  Those were tough days. 

            They were days of prayer and low energy.  I thank God because in this period of my life about a month of the winter and family depression I met Sue.  As we began dating she shared that she had been going through a tough time in her life as well.       

 

6.)        One of the things that has been a special part of Christmas for our children has been that Sue has bought them an ornament each year and I had bought them a book.  We have not done that this year.  It seems like that might start up again in a few years if we have grandchildren.  We will see.  That was always a fun part of our family life, along with sleeping under the tree and playing games.    

 

7.)        Are there any family traditions that you do each year?  Are there any traditions that you will not do this year because of changes?  (Ask people to share these.) 

 

8.)        I would like to read a story that might be a part of your Christmas celebration.  This story was written in 1926 by Dr. James Allan Francis. 

 

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.  Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.

          He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never had a family or owned a house.  He didn’t go to college.  He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born.  He did none of these things one usually associates with greatness.

          He had no credentials but himself.  He was only 33 when public opinion turned against him.  His friends ran away.  He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

          When he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.  When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

          Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.

          All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.” 

 

9.)        In an interview for “Today’s Christian Woman,” writer and speaker Carol Kent says: 

One day when my son Jason was young, we were eating breakfast together.  I had on an old pair of slacks and a fuzzy old sweater.  He flashed his baby blues at me over his cereal bowl and said, “Mommy, you look so pretty today.” 

I didn’t even have makeup on!  So I said, “Honey, why would you say I look pretty today?  Normally I’m dressed up in a suit and high heels.” 

And he said, “When you look like that, I know you’re going some place; but when you look like this, I know you’re all mine.” 

Nothing can replace the beauty of being together with those we love.

(Contemporary Illustrations ed. Craig Brian Larson, page 70)

            When we look to Jesus this day we see a baby, a boy, a man, a God who says to you I am not going away.  I am going to stay with you.  I will never leave you or forsake you; I will be with you always. 

            And just like Jason we know it is going to be a great day.    

             

10.)      We are here today to celebrate the life of Jesus who came in history and is always with us.  I discovered a song that expresses joy called, “Jesus Child,” and it is performed by the Denver Mile High Orchestra.  It is an upbeat song that is played in a Dixie land style of music with lots of brass.  I invite you to find it on You Tube and enjoy it.