Thank you so much to all the parents, grandparents and children who came to our All Age Service this morning and who, like the wise men, gave their gold to God. Just amazing.
The talk went something like this….
Which presents did the wise men bring to Jesus?
They travelled a long way following the star: through many dangers
Brought with them symbols of the very best that they could give Jesus.
They brought their utmost for his highest.
Why are these gifts special?
What do they symbolise?
What do they mean?
Why is gold special?
It is the most precious metal – at least then it was (before discovery of platinum and rhodium) -it’s the best
Why is frankincense special? What was it used for? – For the altar in the temple used by the priests – the most holy – the incense which contained frankincense could only be used in temple.
Why is Myrrh special? Myrrh was used (amongst other things) – to preserve your body after death – used in embalming – like Lenin (who die in 1924) or Chairman Mao (who died 1976) whose bodies you can still see – the most lasting.
The wise men brought to Jesus as worship symbols of their most precious, their most holy and their most lasting.
What is most the precious to us? Not our toys or physical things; not another person.
Something that if we were prevented from doing it; from being it, would make us miserable; would stop us being who we are?
What are we really good at? Or if, like me you are not really good at anything, what do we enjoy doing most?
If there was only one thing in the world that we could spend our time doing what would it be?
When are we most happy? What do we think we were made to do?
May be too early for some of us, but for others will already be clear?
Is it dancing, playing football, acting, singing, reading? Whatever this thing is then this is our gold – our very best
And today, like the wise men, we are going to give our very best to Jesus,
going to write down in the paper chest which you have with your hymn books, what is our very best, then we will process to the altar, I will lead with the frankincense burning
So each write it down in the treasure chest what is our gold, our very best,
get your parents to help you, they will tell you if you don’t know yourself
Doesn’t matter how old or young you are, very young may just be playing with a ball or playing an imaginary game
So now we know what is our best – our gold and I want us today to give our best to God. But how can we give our very best to God?
By making it our most holy.
Frankincense: was used by the Jewish priests in the temple to make the altar holy – to make it separate, to make it pure. ‘Holy’ means set apart for God, using frankincense made the altar set apart – by a smell which you would only smell in the temple
How can we make our very best, our gold, also our most holy?
By doing what we love doing, by doing what God has made us good at,
for God and not just for ourselves
Eric Liddell was a famous rugby player, but also a sprinter, he was featured in the film Chariots of Fire. He won an Olympic gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. He was also a Christian. He said ‘I believe God made me for a purpose but he also made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure’
For Liddelll, his best was running and he did this for God. And, famously, he would not run in his best event at the Olympics because the event was held on a Sunday. Not necessarily the view that all of us would take on Sabbath observance. But it was clear that he was doing his best for God
not for his own glory.
So when we do our best – our gold – then we give it to God by doing it for him in his honour – not for our glory but for his.
Sometimes you see footballers or tennis players acknowledging God when they have just won a really difficult point or got an amazing goal. We don’t boast about what is our best, our gold – we give God the glory
So making it holy, means doing it for God but it also means something about how we do things ‘holy’ also means ‘pure’.
So that means that we never cheat, we always follow the rules; we are sporting, we show sportsmanship; we don’t hate those who beat us and we don’t have contempt for those we beat. And like Erick Liddell, we will feel Gods pleasure, as we excel.
And so our best, our gold, becomes our frankincense – it becomes our holiest – Because we are setting it apart for God.
But how does our best our gold become our myrrh? How does what we give to the king become enduring, how does it last?
Jesus said don’t lay up treasure on earth – where it can rot – lay up treasure in heaven. We need to make our gold, not only holy (i.e for God)
but also, lasting like myrrh.
If we use our gold, our best, for others, if we do so we are not laying up treasures on earth but in heaven because the effects of what we do for others lasts for eternity.
If we are good at football, are we helping others be their best also rather than just showing off how good we are?
If we are the best at dancing, are we helping or encouraging someone else who is struggling? Or just being pleased with our own success?
Are we willing to do this even if they end up being better than we are?
As we do so, we build up treasure that lasts because the effects we have on
those others last for ever.
I have seen a film recently called ‘Unbroken’. Where two brothers were runners. The younger brother thought he was useless at everything, but his elder brother encouraged him, and encouraged him, and encouraged him. So that eventually the younger brother became a much better runner than the older brother was. And eventually the younger brother, Louis Zamperini, ran for the US in the Olympics.
But the film is about how he had learned as a runner to be so determined
that he could survive 42 days at sea after a near fatal air crash and a very difficult time as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese.
And through this he encouraged thousands of other people.
So what the elder brother did, the effect of him encouraging Louis was enduring – and had a huge effect on lots of other people and still, as we read the story or see the film Unbroken, has an effect on us today.
So our present to the King should be of our very best – our gold. We should make our very best holy – like frankincense— dedicate it to God and we should use it for others and thus make it like Myrrh – enduring
Gold frankincense and myrrh. Lets give our best to God, make it holy and eternal. Having presented our best to God. Now, Like the wise men
Let’s travel back by another way