Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do you bow at all? あなたはかしづきますか。

Matt 2:1-12   マタイ21-12
 Believers, what do you believe??
     The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: 
The third day He rose again from the dead:                           
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From there He shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy universal church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
   It is the time of year for singing some pretty interesting songs. Some of the songs that are sung are really off base.  It is not my intention this morning to make fun of some of the holiday songs but one of them just has it wrong.  

 “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last,
Next year we may all be living in the past
/OR (Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight".)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, pop that champagne cork, Next year we will all be living in New York.
No good times like the olden days, happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who were dear to us, will be near to us no more.
But at least we all will be together, if the Fates allow, (if the Lord allows) From now on we'll have to muddle through somehow. So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”

   Introduced by Judy Garland in 1944, and even she criticized the song as depressing. In the 1980’s Mr. Hugh Martin, the writer of the song, was playing his piano at a local church in the Western US when he told that the words were originally written differently. Hugh Martin-a believer who wanted the song to reflect his faith… BUT THE INDUSTRY DID NOT WANT THE “GOD THING’ IN THERE.  
   In just a few years, the whole meaning of the song was changed.  For better or for worst, it was changed.  Not so with our passage today. The words of Matthew ring true; the whole of the passage. And it was to BRING us the Good News and for us to KNOW Salvation.
In this passage, we also have the response of three very different people to the news of the birth of this “shepherd of My people.”
1. The chief rulers of “the Faith” 「信仰」の第一人者
   These men of faith knew in their heard all about the Promised One. They knew where to look for the answer—The Prophet Micah. And they know what he had said about where—in Bethlehem.
They told King Herod BUT THEY REMAINED in Jerusalem! Would that have been your response? They only reported the information and remained in the city and in effect, let foreigners go find Him.  Seemingly uninterested.  Are you to find out?
   They are so very like many of the religious leaders today—for the most part, they have head knowledge only of the Divine.  No heart at all.  I found this true in my own church I grew up in…more interested in trees, handshakes and beer than Christ.
These, so called leaders of the Faith were as blind then as they were about 30 years later when Jesus called them blind…
   Now as for 2. The official ruler of Israel, イスラエルの公的支配者,Herod. ヘロデ The Romans put this man up as ruler in the Palestine region as King of Judea in 37BC. He was ethnically Arab but a somewhat practicing Jew.  He was given the title of Herodes Magnus or Herod the Great.  He really liked that title!
   He was also given the title of ‘King of the Jews’ by Rome.  From what I read about this man, he really did not like being where he was and wanted Rome to do better things for him.  They did not so he seemed to take it out on the Jews.  He also had some interpersonal problems with family members.  Once when he visited Rome, he feared for his life—so, he ordered the death of his dear wife should he not return, as he could not bear the thought of another man with her.  Later, he had his wife put on trial and executed for scheming against him. There was no evidence of such a claim. He later executed three of his own sons in fear of being overtaken. He gave the order of all the high officials in Jerusalem to be arrested when he neared death, and killed on his own death so that the city would cry. He was also credited for the massacre of infants “from two years old and under, according to the time which he diligently inquired of the wise men.”  (Matt 2:16)
   He was upset in our passage because of the title the wise men used… verse 2 “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
   When they used THAT line, he was once again threatened.  That is why the whole city was disturbed with him.  The old line, “If the king isn’t happy, NOBODY is happy” comes to mind here.
   He, of course, did not wish to worship the New King of the Jews.  He lied to the wise men and hid from them his evil intent.  Not hidden, however from the Lord. The Lord showed the Wise men in a dream that they should leave by another route.  Could have cost them their lives but they were well gone from the power of Herod by that time.
   Which then leaves us with the third group: 3. The wise men from the east. 東からの賢者
   Even with our Christmas Carol “We, Three Kings…” we really don’t know 1. If there were three. 2. That they were kings but we do know they came from the east to see this Child King.  They came after the birth of Christ and not on the evening of the birth as with the shepherds.  Because they gave three kinds of gifts, it doesn’t mean there were three of them.  Does not really mater.  What matters is what they brought with them, why they came and what they did when they saw Him.
   a.What they brought with them: 彼らは何を持参したのでしょうかthe gifts they brought: Gold was a standard of trade more reliable than any country's money in those days. Frankincense and myrrh were sacred spices burned before the altar of the Lord. Myrrh was also associated with marriages and burials. These would come in handy in the weeks ahead as the family left for Egypt soon there after.  It also was a foreshadowing of what Jesus would need during His Ministry.  Needs that would cover His life, His work and His death.
   b. why they came. 彼らはなぜ来たのでしょうか  They might not have known it, but their coming was a fulfillment of Old Testament Messianic prophecies found in Ps 72:10, 11, 詩編7210-11; Isa 49:7, 23 , イザヤ497,23; Isa 60:6 イザヤ606. They learned of this birth by looking to the skies.  I don’t understand the whole of this but the fact that the Lord shows His handiwork in nature is commonly seen.  He showed these men that something GREAT and totally unusual was going to take place and off they went to see and meat this Child.
   They came to see the Great Light.  The first Gentiles to see Him.  They came to worship Him—as foreigners.  Given this special task along with poor and ignorant local shepherds.  Again, a foreshadow of the call of God to the WORLD of His universal call of the Church.  All men are called to Him to worship the Incarnate God, showing that salvation was offered to all men, every tribe and nation.
   Let’s not miss this! c. what they did when they saw Him 彼らが主を見たとき何をしたのでしょうか。is the key to our message today.  They did something that we should also do.  They worshiped Him.  How? Verse 11  On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
   Are you willing to bow down to Him? Think about what else we bow down to. The call to being honest. The call to being a good husband.  The call to be the best you can be. The call of manhood.  The call of womanhood. The call of being a good citizen. Of being well off.  Of being intelligent.  Most of these callings, many would feel, are our rights.  We are destined to be these things. It is our right.
   So the question I have to answer and I am asking you to answer is this: Am I living my life for these things? IS being good my drive? IS being honest my center? IS being the best I can be the force that drives my life?
   Even before they saw Him, as they were coming closer, there was joy!  9 After they had heard the king, …10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
   When the wise men bowed down to the Christ Child, think of what they saw.  A baby. In a house…not a stable, this happened later, remember? They saw a child.  A small child at that!  There were no angles flying around Him.  No Handel’s Messiah being played. No special glow around His little head.  He was just a BABY. But they caught the real meaning that has been lost so many times as we come to this season.  “Oh, little Christ Child…”  “No crying He made…” THAT KIND OF JESUS is fluff.  He was really God!
   And they worshiped Him!  For who He is! They knew that He was the Promised One from Old.  They knew He was the Son of God and they bowed down and worshiped Him.
   When you came here this morning, what did you expect to see?  What did you expect to hear? Soft music that charmed our ears? A ‘nice’ service?  Or did you expect to come into the very presence of the Living God of Creation?
   These men were called ‘wise men’ and for sure they were! They were wise because they were not tricked by the world. They were ready to see what they had been searching for.  They even brought things to give to Him. To present to Him.  Not a few extra pieces of change, but Gifts of Gold!  Gifts of incense and gifts of myrrh.  What do you have to give Him? He wants just you.  Your attention, your passion. All of you. What a joy to His Heart to get that from you today!  Because He first loved us… in fact…
   John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

For God                The Greatest All:
So loved               The Greatest emotion: Motivates His actions
The world             The greatest community
That He gave        The greatest sacrifice: He gave His ALL
His only Son         The greatest relationship: the Savior
That whoever       The greatest number: Open to all who believe.
Believes               The greatest adventure: based on Faith
In Him                 The greatest Person
Shall not perish    The greatest separation
But have              The greatest opportunity
Eternal life            The greatest gift: the reward is Great!
   One of the greatest gifts you can give to God is your attention. When was the last time you were passionate with God?  When did you cry out to Him with your open hurt and express to Him your need for Him to know your heart? The time for this is NOW!

   Merry Christmas!  Come to the Candle Light Service on Dec 24 at 6:30 PM.  4:30 for the Community Walking Caroling.