Here are the notes Father Arnold prepared for his sermon on January 1, 2012. Thanks to my lovely bride Amanda for revising them for the web.
The Wise Man still seeks; the Wise Woman still seeks!
Five Offerings from the Wise Men, the Magi
Sermon notes for Sunday, Jan.1, 2012, Church of the Epiphany, Tallassee, AL by Priest in Charge, The Rev. Arnold A. Bush
I. Introduction; who were the Wise men?
Astrologers (NEB.MRSV); “Wise men” (EV); How many kings? See Hymn 128. At best they were seekers after wisdom and truth. Rate yourself as a seeker?
II. Our Seeking
How will you seek a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ in the year 2012? Are you motivated to have an abiding relationship with Jesus?
1. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, “Our Christian duty is to develop a personal faith.” In John our work is to believe.
2. As we recite the Nicene Creed we state, “We believe in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”…A better translation is WE TRUST IN FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT.
3. As you are alone in a walk outside, an early walk, do you have an attitude of seeking God?
4. Are you seeking a deeper experience of Christ as you come to the Sunday Eucharist?
5. Will you be a WISE MAN OR WISE WOMAN WHO SEEKS CHRIST IN THIS NEW YEAR? WHO? WHEN?
6. What I will practice…?
III. They Offered their TIME.
It took several days to travel over 900 miles as some research suggest. They gave their time to leave family, friends, colleagues, home to travel. Twenty miles a day would take 45 days one way. As citizens of the Western world we are very conscious of time. A great deal of advertising is selling time saving equipment, appliances. Cox Bundle…downloading photos or large files in to our computer, faster Internet. Time traveling by car or by flying? Time commuting or time dressing or time eating. But I want to suggest that you consider trying a time each day to seek Christ. This could involve a devotional time, a place, a passage, a quiet time. Twelve minutes a day for 5 days a week = 1 hour a week. You will be a different person in 12 months. He meets your deepest needs. Just suppose if 80 % of the members of Epiphany spent 12 minutes in some exercise daily what would happen in our lives.
IV. They offered their worship.
“When they saw the star they stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy (overjoyed, delighted). On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage (KJV “worshiped”). Then they opened their gifts…”
The word worship is to bend the knee. (Must be Episcopalians or Roman Catholics) They offer their worship. A large part of Christian Worship is to relinquish something. Thus to worship the Father God is to relinquish, to offer to God, to know you need help. I relinquish responsibility to the parent. To acknowledge one’s need for help and to give up control. If you were asked the difference between the church going and the non-church-going citizens in Elmore County, how would you answer? To me the difference is not the genes, not the personality, the amount of education, BUT THE WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE, TO ADMIT I NEED HELP FROM OUTSIDE OF MYSELF. GENERALLY SPEAKING THE FOLKS WHO STAY AWAY FROM SUNDAY WORSHIP ARE ONES WHO DO NOT WANT TO CHANGE OR WHO FEEL NO NEED FOR ASSISTANCE.
V. The offering of Gold, a symbol of Jesus to be a King.
Back in November I had a sermon on Jesus as King. Do I relate to Christ as King, Lord, Boss? Do you recall the Christmas Eve Eucharist when Calab and Miriam played the Hallelujah Chorus?
Lord of Lord and King of Kings (2X). There are jokes around about a tendency of men in the USA, who are reluctant to ask for directions when driving on an unfamiliar road. Maybe there are some men as well as women who are reluctant to ask Jesus for directions. To ask Christ for guidance.
1. When you are having a morning offering or devotion… often we ask Lord, I need some assistance in this area. But If Jesus is your King, Boss, then he possibly has something for you to do. So ask him, Lord, what do you want me to do?
2. EG Celia Bailey in Tifton, GA… retired from the Rural Development Center and volunteered to be the part-time secretary for St. Ann’s. Over the months I asked how her day was going. I discovered every morning she would usually read a devotion book and scripture. Then she would ask God what she could do to love and care for someone. Over some 50 years she would write a card, deliver some food, make a call in the Nursing Home or Hospital, purchase a small gift. I was asked by her family to return to officiate at her funeral. The nave was rather full and comments were “Cecilia loved many people in this county and church.” What I learned from her I have attempted to practice the rest of my life. To do an act of agape everyday…an act of unselfish love. As you do a devotion, ask God: What do you want me to do today?
3. Will I listen with my heart to what God is saying to me in 2012?
VI. Frankincense, Jesus as Priest (worship)
The Psalm 1412 (BoCP p 115) reads: “Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (See sack in sacristy) Frankincense is a gum resin from a Boswellia Tree. This was a symbol of prayer in the Temple. Frankincense is a reminder for us to prayer. I recall there are some Episcopalians who love to have incense used in worship every Sunday. Do you have an intention to offer prayers during 2012? We need to remember the basis of all prayer is God’s willingness to have a relationship with us. He is the Hound of Heaven, seeking to establish a relationship with us!!! Let me offer some suggestions for gestures for prayer:
1. Prayer in the car when parked…before you get out of the car. Some men comb their hair and some women put on lipstick. How about raising your hands to offer a need or an assistance…. Raising the hands.
2. A special intention as you come to communion every Sunday. I will be offering this for……those who are ill… a member of your family, …a colleague at work.
3. Centering Prayer…. Fr. Thomas Keating writings… Jimmy Owens has an easy tune of adoration: “Holy, Holy, And we lift our hands before you as a token of our love”. Or the hymn, Take my voice and let it sing…Take my will and make it thine… take my heart, my lips….
VII. MYRRH, A symbol of burial, the Passion and Death of Christ
Myrrh is a gum rosin that makes perfume with alcohol which is used for embalming. Let us make an offering of thanksgiving for the Passion of Christ and for our atonement. Here are some types of things we can do to relate to the Death, Passion of Christ, and Grief.
1. Offer in prayer the name of a friend or relative who has lost by death a spouse, child, or friend. Make contact with a person in the area who is in grief over the death of a relative or friend. When I was on the staff of CC in San Antonio, one of the items on the checklist for a funeral was to make a note to call on this family one year after this death. Remember those who have lost a spouse or relative have anniversaries that trigger some grief.
2. Ask yourself: Am I in need of healing from a painful experience in the past year or years? Are you unable to release your anger or hurt to the Lord? Do you have some bitterness or anger wrapped up in a closet needing the balm of healing?
3. Have you prayed for families in the area who have lost a son, sibling or parent in Iraq or Afghanistan?
In the year 2012 we can become better seekers to know Christ deeper. We can increase and grow our friendship with Christ. The gold reminds us to seek him as King and Lord of our life… giving us direction and guidance. The Frankincense can remind me to offer prayer for each day the Lord allows me to live. Myrrh was given to remind us of the passion and death Jesus must go through. Let us be responsive to those in grief and pain as they enter 2012.