Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Nov 27, 2016 Sermon

“Blessing”
Matthew 2:1 – 11
Ted Jansen  November 27, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 

1.)        We are looking at the “Songs of the Season” and I invite you to sing the first verse of “Feliz Navidad.” (Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Prospero ano y Felicedad.  Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Prospero ano y Felicedad

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, from the bottom of my heart.  I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, from the bottom of my heart.)

 

2.)        Who wrote that song and in what year?   Jose Feliciano wrote that song in 1970.  It was one of the first bi-lingual songs that was popular at Christmas and continues to be one of the favorites. 

            This song focuses on the theme of blessing.  The words are repeated over and over again, “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.”  It is a simple and joyful song that uplifts those who hear and sing it.  It sends love and blessing in the form of a Christmas wish.  The Spanish words, “Feliz Navidad,” literally mean Blessed or Happy Nativity.  When you say “Merry Christmas” a variety of images and ideas come to mind.  When you say Feliz Navidad the image of Mary, Joseph and Jesus come to mind.  The Spanish Christmas Blessing is more biblical than the English.  For that reason maybe we should say, “Feliz Navidad” more often.      

 

3.)        The theme of blessing in this song touches a core part of us because each of us has been created by God to be a blessing to others.  We read these words in Genesis.  “God blessed them…”  (Genesis 1:28)  In this verse God is blessing Adam and Eve.   Then we read this verse.  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)  God created us in His own image.  God’s nature is to bless and as creatures of God we are created to bless.    

            This song demonstrates the spirit of blessing in English and in Spanish in a fun and festive way.    

 

4.)        I was intrigued by the phrase that Jose wrote about the blessing coming “from the bottom of my heart.”  I understand that phrase in this way. Something that comes from the bottom of my heart is a blessing of the entire heart. 

If you would look at this pitcher, filled with water, and pour some water from the top, that would only be a little bit.  If you pour some water from the middle you pour more.  If you pour from the very bottom, you are pouring the entire amount out.  The bottom of my heart, like the bottom of the pitcher, involves the whole amount.  The full blessing.    

A blessing that comes from the bottom of my heart is a blessing that involves the entire heart, all of your love and self. 

           

5.)        Matthew 2 tells us about the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men.    Why is their story recorded in scripture?  What role do they have in God’s Kingdom?  Why do we remember the wise men?

Do we remember them because of their journey, their position, their inquiries to King Herod?  Is it because of the treasures they carried?  I believe we remember them because they were a blessing.  They blessed the Christ child, they blessed the parents, they came to be a blessing.  We remember because they were a blessing.    

 

6.)        When the wise men saw the star in the sky they knew that it meant a King was born.  They decided to gather up what they needed so that they could be blessing to that King.  They organized the provisions that they would need and brought with them the gold, incense and myrrh.  Then they headed west to follow the star.  They followed the star and it led them into Jerusalem, where they were in contact with King Herod.  They asked him about the King of the Jews because they had seen his star in the east. 

            King Herod asked his advisers and they told him that in the town of Bethlehem, which was about five miles from Jerusalem, a ruler would be born.  (From Micah 5:2.) 

            The wise men set out for Bethlehem and as they headed away from Jerusalem towards Bethlehem the star that they had seen in the east was bright and visible again. 

Matthew tells us what happened next.  “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  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 and incense and of myrrh.”  (Matthew 2:10, 11) 

            They bowed down and worshipped him after they saw Him.  Bowing down and worshipping is one thing.  Blessing is another thing that involves more of your heart.  After they bowed down and worshipped him they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  They could have seen the child, bowed down, worshipped Him and went back East.  But they chose to be a blessing as they gave gifts. 

            As we look at the theme of blessing do you think the wise men gave from the top, middle or bottom of their hearts?  Was it a little, a medium or a full blessing?  

            Their blessing represented their whole heart, their whole self.  I believe the wise men freely blessed because they had been blessed first.  They saw the star, the child and were blessed by God and His love.        

 

7.)        I want you to imagine this box that I have as your “blessing box.”  Take a look inside.  Does your blessing box appear to be empty; you don’t have a lot of blessings?  Bring it before the Lord and ask Him to come and fill your blessing box.  Does your “blessing box” appear full; there are plenty of blessings?  Ask the Lord who it is that you are to share your blessing with?  The wise men gave of themselves when they blessed.        

 

8.)        Let me tell you about Jose Feliciano and how he was blessed.  Jose was born blind, one of eleven boys in a poor family in Puerto Rico.  He wanted a guitar to play but because of his family’s poverty a guitar was not able to be purchased.    

            Jose finally received a guitar and this “gift” changed his life forever.  Jose is quoted as saying, “It was a wonderful gift, because I had been wanting a guitar for a very long time.  My father couldn’t afford it, so a friend of my father’s gave me my first guitar.”  (Info from ABC news article by David Puente, on Dec 25, 2006.)

            This poor blind boy received a blessing, a guitar, and from his heart came a song of blessing that he wrote 46 years ago in 1970 at age 25.  “Feliz Navidad,” would have never been enjoyed had a friend not chosen to give the blessing of a guitar.    

 

9.)        What does a blessing look like?  It looks like a guitar.  It looks like words of appreciation.  It looks like a hug.  It looks like time.  It looks like doing something needed for another person. 

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called, “The Five Love Languages.”  In that book he identifies five ways you can communicate love or blessing.  Here are the five.       

*Share words of affirmation as a blessing

            *Give gifts as a blessing

            *Offer physical affection as a blessing

            *Serve in a practical way as a blessing

            *Spend time as a blessing                                          

 

            We focus a lot of energy on the gifts we give this season; gifts of blessing.  Let us not focus on the material gift but on the other ways we can bless.  We can bless with time, with affection, with words, with service.  What are ways you can share blessing?        

 

10.)      “A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens in 1843.  That was 173 years ago.  The story centers on the character of Ebenezer Scrooge and his negative attitude at Christmas.  He doesn’t like Christmas and doesn’t want to bless anyone. 

The beginning of the story describes his loneliness and misery.  In a sense his “blessing box” is empty and the last thing he desires to do is to bless others.  He goes to sleep on Christmas Eve and begins to dream.  In his dream he meets his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of being greedy.  Jacob is doomed to dragging around chains that represent his greed.  Jacob Marley tells Ebenezer that he will be visited by three ghosts, of Christmas past, present and future, who will speak to him. 

When the first ghost appears and shows him his past Ebenezer sees his life as a child.  He sees his father who had no time for him; he sees a sister who he was somewhat close to die suddenly and his fiancé who leaves him because she will not wait any longer for Ebenezer to marry her.  His loneliness grows heavy as he experiences his dream.    

When the ghost of Christmas present appears Ebenezer sees his assistant, Bob Cratchit, enjoying his life.  Bob has joy even though he has a son that is crippled and lives on very meager wages that Ebenezer pays him.  Money doesn’t define Bob, but the love and blessing of family.    

When the ghost of Christmas future appears it shows Ebenezer at his death and how people will be glad because he was so negative and critical.  This perhaps is the most disturbing part of the dream. 

Ebenezer wakes up and realizes that it is Christmas morning and he still has time to change and be a blessing.  The story ends with Ebenezer becoming a model of generosity and kindness to those in the town.    

This story reminds us that we have a choice when it comes to blessing others.         

 

11.)      We began with “Feliz Navidad” and I want to end with “Away in the Manger.”  This Christmas Carol speaks of blessing.  Listen to the first verse describing a peaceful scene of baby Jesus asleep.  The last verse asks the Lord Jesus for a blessing.       

“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.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with thee there.”