Speaker: M.Noorhoff

Over the last few sermons Ifve spoken about Christmas and in a way I will continue today. We spoke of the great romance, the wonder of Adonai the Lord God the King of Kings coming to be with us to spend time with us on our level so we would not follow him out of fear but out of love. He came to make a way that both he and we may know that our love for him is true. We talked next of the long wait we have and the patience and faith we will need to allow us to carry on and be prepared for his return, the next Christmas. Finally we spoke of the practical example set for us by God, the greatest gift we can hive at Christmas and all the year long, the gift of communication and spending time with people. Today we are going to go a bit beyond the birth of Jesus of Nazereth to his birth as the King of Kings and to his birth into what he was incarnated to become gthe Christh

Let me stop at this point because to make a point to ensure that no one becomes confused and to set the record straight. For common culture has often infiltrated our faith and has led us into remembering things in a way they never happened. Kind of like the fact that gPlay it again Samh was never actually said in Casablanca but that is what we remember. The stories of the bible have also been corrupted it such a manner. The one that stands out most at this time of year is the nativity with Joseph Mary Jesus the Shepherds, angels, and three wise men from the east all together. Of course this wasnft really the case at all. The wise men came after the manger and we donft actually know if there were three there could have been two there could have been twenty. But proximity of the stories and simplification led us to join two stories together that are in fact separate. Another is the Common use of the term gJesus Christh which may be fine in Christian circles but it is meaningless to those outside. Ifm sure if you ask must non-Christians gwhat is the family name of Jesush?, they will respond that his family name was Christ. Jesus born of Joseph and Mary Christ. His brother Jacob Christ. You may think it is funny but it isnft. I spent a good half an hour explaining this to someone just the other week. What we should be saying at the least is Jesus pause Christ to separate the two and formalize Christ as a title such as Suzuki bucho. Or better yet Jesus the Christ or in the Hebrew form Jesus the Messiah, For the word Christ is simply the Hebrew word Messiah translated to Greek. Let us start the new year correcting ourselves on this point and Remember to Give Jesus his proper title as Savior. The thing is that those who do not believe should not really be using the term at all for they do not believe yet that Jesus is their personal savior and thus Christ. This is a term reserved for Believers. Non-believers should be using a title that portrays their true feeling so as simply Jesus of Nazareth or just Jesus. Our constant use of the term Jesus Christ has watered down the title and thereby watered down the truth of who he was, who he is. He is Jesus the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.

Lets go back to Christmas and the manger to start off

Remember that it was the shepherds who were called to the manger to see the babe. They were called because of who they were. The were not the elite but the poor , the persecuted, insulted, the very ones that Jesus speaks of in his sermon on the mount.

 Matthew 5:3-12

3  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

10  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 These were the first he called to be with him giving hope to all those who feel like they too are untouchables and that nobody loves them. He reminds them that they are loved by him

 So Christmas is the celebration for the shepherds of the world

 This brings us to our next point, this weekend we celebrate the Epiphany actually it was yesterday January 6th but this is the first Sunday after the epiphany. The Epiphany which means manifestation, showing or enlightenment. It marks Christ manifest presence on earth God incarnate the word manifest the spirit manifest. The presence of God in our realm. It brings us back to those three or more wise men or magi that we spoke of earlier the ones that were misplaced in the stable. The Magi from the east, after studying the prophets, learned that The Kings of the Jews was to be born and that they were to lay presents before him for he was not to be only the king of the Jews but the king of kings, The Lord over all. These Magi followed a star often referred to as the Epiphany Star which led them to Bethlehem and they laid their gift of homage before Christ. Where this exactly took place we do not know but many say that it probably took place at the relatives of Joseph, Bethlehem being the home of his family. So if we read this correctly The first to come to Jesus were the shepherds whom we talked about last sermon, the outcasts the poor the persecuted, the next were the outsiders, the gentiles, the heathen, The pagans.. Now It is often said there were three magi one for each gift and that these magi were in fact kings. But the three has also been said to symbolize the entire human race through the three ages of man and the three racial types descended from the three sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and Japheth)   Casper was the young beardless, ruddy descendent of Ham who brought frankincense. Melchior was the old white haired descendent of Shem who brought gold for the king. And Balthazar was a black bearded descendent of Japheth in his prime who brought myrrh. All three are traditionally said to be kings which makes Jesus the King of Kings and symbolizes his rule over all the earthfs people no matter what race or what age. Of course this is just from tradition and I hope you will remember that

 The Epiphany and the story of the Magi search for the King can reveal much to us and instruct us as we enter into a new year.

 It reminds us to refocus on the light- to set our path by the light that is Jesus Christ for he said in John 8:12

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

John 9:5

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John 12:46

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

 By focusing ourselves on the light we may reflect the glory of God as Moses did

When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face.

34  But whenever he entered the Lord's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded,

35  they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

We are to become the light through the reflection of Jesus on our Lives

 As he reminds us in Matthew 5:14-16

14  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

15  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

16  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 Luke 11:34-36 reminds us

 34  Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.

35  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

36  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you."

 Paul was more specifically called to be a light to the very people the magi symbolize- The gentiles.

Acts 13:47

"'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

 The Epiphany reminds us to refocus our search for Jesus in the word of God seeking revelation as the magi sought. It is a time for us to rededicate ourselves to not only reading the bibles but digging through it eating and digesting it.

 The Epiphany reminds us of Hope and a new dawn breaking as it is celebrated at winter solstice. The movement from the long night to the long day.

 Finally The Epiphany reminds us to be servants of the King, the King whom himself came not to be served but to serve

This he reminds us of in Matthew 20:26-28 

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

 We are reminded that we are his hands and his body and that we are to serve other to glorify him.

 The Epiphany is the celebration of the gentiles who God loved, Whom with the Jews, the King of Kings was sacrificed for

 The next point I would like to talk about brings us to next week or January 13th which is the traditional celebration of the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. This is when Jesus starts his ministry This is when he reveals himself as the son of God the Christ the Messiah. It is at this point that the Holy Spirit comes down upon him and the trinity is brought together. We read of the spirit coming down on Christ like a dove. Again this alludes to the idea of Epiphany or the spirit of God manifest. We to may receive this manifest presence of God. He may Manifest in our Churches our homes our cities. We are reminded to pray for the manifest presence of God as was seen on Pentecost

 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"  And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

 The baptism of Jesus reminds us to once again be filled with the joy of our own baptism to remember how we burned for Christ to remember how devoted we were and to take a careful look at who we are now and to push ourselves back to rededicated ourselves to re-baptize ourselves not with water but with the Holy spirit.

 Let us not fall back into our own ways but let us live the life of the reborn.

 John3: 1-8  Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.  He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."  In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."  "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"  Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'  The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

 Jesus came to this world for us. His call is for you whoever you are.

 He is calling the left behind. He is calling the Gentiles. He is calling the poor, He is calling the Kings.  He is calling you!!!!!

 Rededicate yourself to Him and He will work things in your life you never imagined

 20  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

21  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

22  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

 Manifest yourself in us Lord. Be present in our lives in our hearts in our minds. Make yourself known to us and to all. We worship you Adonai, Lord of Lord King of Kings Christ Savior Messiah We adore and glorify you.