MEC Online Service 27/12/2020 – 'Jesus & the Wise Men' (Matthew 2:1-12)

My mama told me something when I was growing up that has forever changed my life She played the piano at our little church at third and pine street for 37 years She tried to teach me to play the piano but I wasn’t very good She would teach me the names of the notes what a major key is, what a minor key is, she tried to teach me musical theory but I was just bored Then one day she told me that the best news in the world is found by playing a simple scale on the piano I had no idea what she meant so she told me to play an eight-note scale, so I did I said how is that good news and she said I played it incorrectly and that I needed to play it the other way so I did Again I said how is that good news and she said I played it the right way but I needed to add the pauses The pauses she said the pauses add them on the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh, and last note Now I was frustrated and said how can eight notes with random pauses be the best news in the world Then I got up walked away and went outside Frankly, I didn’t care what she was talking about I didn’t like playing the piano anyway Well, years later my mama got sick and passed away as I was thinking about her I remembered what she told me about the piano Not only that, I still remember the notes she told me to pause the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh, and, last note So I sat down at her piano and played the scale with the pauses and that’s when I realized the good news she was talking about From our house to your’s, we wish you

a happy new year, love from the Clydesdale’s Hi everyone hope you had a great Christmas and happy new year when it comes Hope to see you all soon take care bye Hello it’s Ros here, may God bless you with health and happiness in the in coming year Happy new year Maddiston! Merry Christmas and a Happy new year! Happy new Year and a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda from me Good morning, it’s great too see you for our online service today We hope you enjoyed your Christmas Day despite all the restrictions – and received some nice presents! It’s good to remember that the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time didn’t start with Santa Claus It started with the Wise Men – who we’ll be hearing about later in this third and final part of the retelling of the Christmas story Coming up we have more carols for you to enjoy – as well as prayers, a Bible reading, and a children’s video David Campbell will be sharing a short message from the Bible In this service we’ll hear how the wise men, guided by a star, found their way to Jesus It’s been quite a week for star gazers hasn’t it? On Monday, Jupiter and Saturn crossed paths in the night sky, appearing to the naked eye as a “double planet” The timing of this conjunction caused some to suggest this could be the same astronomical event that led the wise men to Jesus If you want to read more on that see BBC link in the description Johannes Kepler, the 17th Century German astronomer and mathematician proposed this conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn could be the “Star of Wonder” or “The Star of Bethlehem”

Whether it was, or a special light sent by God, the Lord can use the natural or supernatural to guide us This is our last online service of the year As we look back on a year like no other, we give thanks to God, whose loving and faithful hand has guided us We thank Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that’s to come We want to wish you all a happy New Year and may you and your family know God’s love and guidance in 2021 Our next song is led by Fiona Crow and our Youth Praise Band and express the worship of the wise men: “We’ve come to worship, We’ve come to bow down, And give you all we have” Let’s worship the King by singing – ‘Follow the Star’ Good morning, looking forward to 2021 and we wish you all a happy

new year and God’s richest blessing Happy new year from the Leslie’s here’s hoping the next year is a much better one Happy new year! Just wanted to wish everyone a happy new year hopefully, 2021 will be better for all of us, Bye Hi everyone this is the Andersons and we’re wishing everyone peace, joy, and good health for the forthcoming year Happy new year! Wishing you all a happy new year and the lord’s richest blessing in 2021 Alec and Margaret Let us pray Heavenly Father, as we come towards the end of 2020 we thank you for helping us through this difficult year, we thank you for being beside us through uncertainty, through pain and loss, loneliness, and sadness We know that you are aware of the trials that we are facing and thank you for your comfort and presence during this very different year We are constantly aware of how much we need you, your grace, your strength, your power Help us to keep our focus on you day by day We have been celebrating on christmas day and remembering that christmas is about Emmanuel, God with us, thank you that you came to bring new life, hope and joy Help us remember that the gift of Christ is not just for Christmas but for the whole year through We pray that we may be filled with your joy and peace as we anticipate this new year of 2021 This time of year can bring mixed emotions and memories to many of us, whether we are anticipating and looking forward to the coming year or uncertain or even dreading what the year may bring We thank you that we are not alone, may we find hope that we might be strong and courageous for the road ahead I am reminded of the verse of a hymn “I do not know what lies ahead The way I cannot see but one stands near to be my guide, he’ll show the way to me So as I face tomorrow with its problems large or small I’ll trust the god of miracles give to him my all” We pray for your protection over our families and friends We pray that in this current lockdown you will help us to be patient and that the disappointment and sacrifices many are having to make and not being able to be with their families that this may save lives and lead to happy reunions in a few months ahead For those who are unwell, we pray for healing For those who are elderly and vulnerable, we pray for their protection For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless We pray that they will be provided with the necessary support For the young and the strong, we pray that they will be given the necessary caution from unwittingly spreading the virus For front line health care workers, we thank you for their dedicated service and caring for us and pray for your protection over them as well We pray for our nation and its leaders during this difficult time that they may be given wisdom and guidance Your word reminds us in the psalms “Blessed is the nation whose God is the lord” Also Father, we thank you for the promise and hope of this new year and we shake your presence and guidance as we face the future Help us to humbly put our hands into your hand and seek you and to trust you with our lives during the coming year

We ask these things and these prayers and offer them to you now in the name of the lord Jesus, Amen He’s just a baby ten fingers ten toes two eyes two ears one mouth and one nose he’s just a baby cries out for mom’s arms as he lies in a manger in the innkeeper’s barn he’s just a baby yet the sky changed its form as a new star appeared when this baby was born he’s just a baby yet the hosts of heaven sang hallelujah to this baby hallelujah son of man he’s just a baby yet drove a mad king wild who stained the streets with innocence looking for this child why because he’s just a baby yet will walk on the seas feed thousands with nothing and perform miracles with ease he’s just a baby yet will carry out the law live a life of perfection so man will fear no more he’s just a baby yet will speak to every nation every broken heart and lost soul he will fight for their salvation he’s just a baby yet when they call him man they will shout for crucifixion and drive nails through his hands he’s just a baby yet at his final breath all creation will shake mourning his death he’s just a baby yet when he’s laid in his grave he will rise three days later victorious to save he is just a baby when we look in his festive cot but the truth is he’s not just a baby he is the almighty son of God Hi everyone hope you had a wonderful Christmas wishing you all the best for 2021

Happy new year! Hi this is Doreen and Kai and Ray and Sean and Morna and this is Miss Rayna Happy new year! Hi everyone I hope you’re all doing well and I’m missing you lots I just want to wish you all a very happy new year and all the best for 2021 and i’ll hopefully see you all really soon take care bye It’s indeed an honor for me to wish you all a happy new year may you know the peace and strength that only God can give as you enter into this new year Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2021 Happy new year! Hope you all had a nice Christmas see you again soon, Bye! stories of the bible jesus and the wise men this is jesus jesus is the son of god who would grow up to do amazing things his parents on earth were mary hi and joseph jesus was born in a barn because there was no room for him anywhere else in bethlehem Bethlehem was part of judea an area that was ruled bya king named herod king herod was in Jerusalem when some wise men from eastern lands arrived in jerusalem asking excuse me where is the newborn king of the jews we saw his star as it rose and we have come to worship him when herod heard that there was another king born in judea he was very upset as was everyone else in jerusalem yeah not you so herod called all the important priests and jews together and asked him where this king was supposed to be born the jews knew that their king would eventually come and was always told to them that the king of the jews the savior of the world would be born in bethlehem so they told that to king herod then king herod thought of a way to trick the wise men so he called a private meeting with them and learned from them when the king of the jews star first appeared oh god and then king herod told the wise men go to bethlehem and search carefully for the child and when you find him come back and tell me so that i can go and worship him too okay but secretly herod wanted to know where the king of the jews was so he could get rid of him so the wise men went on their way and the star they had seen the east guided them to bethlehem it went ahead of them and stopped over the place where jesus was and the wise men were filled with joy they went into the house and saw mary and jesus hello oh look wow and they bowed down and worshipped jesus wait they

gave him special gifts fit for the king that he was gold frankincense and myrrh then god warned them in a dream to not go home through jerusalem where king herod was but god told them to go home a different way so they did and then an angel appeared to joseph in a dream and said get up the angel told joseph to go to egypt with mary and jesus because herod was looking to kill jesus that very night joseph left for egypt with jesus and mary they stayed in egypt until herod was gone and it was safe for them to go home to israel when they returned an angel warned them about the new ruler of judea who was herod’s son this way so joseph and his family went to the region of galilee and found their new home in the town of nazareth look good yep we’ll take it where jesus would grow up and eventually do all the amazing things god had planned for him to do Good Morning everyone, I’d like to wish you all a very happy new year and God’s richest

blessing in 2021 I’m really missing you all but looking forward to being with you all in the very near future, Edith and willow May God bless you all in 2021, Happy new year from Penny and Paul Hi there it’s Beth wishing you God’s peace and God’s presence in 2021 Hi it’s Peter and Eleanor here we’re hoping you have a happy and healthy 2021 Happy new year! Hi there this is Liz and I just want to wish you a happy new year and all the best every blessing for 21 Hi this is Caroline from Bermuda just want to wish everybody a happy new year Hi Tom and Eleanor here we wish everybody a happy new year and we trust it will not be too long till we’re back in the church to meet with you all God bless you all, bye! Good Morning and a happy Christmas to you and your families! It’s been a very unexpected Christmas hasn’t it? Despite the limitations, I do hope you had a peaceful time I know many of you will have been disappointed – because the travel ban meant you couldn’t meet loved ones outside the country When our children were young, we sometimes took the boat across to Northern Ireland at Christmas to see my wife’s parents One year we travelled on the Seacat catamaran, and the crossing was so rough, everyone was told to lie down! Even the crew were sick! Yet we were willing to go through with it – because we wanted to see our loved ones At the first Christmas, the wise men, or Magi, made a long and difficult journey of 800 miles to find the Christ-child – because they wanted to worship Him This morning we’re going to retrace the journey of the Magi, and in the process, it’s my prayer that we’ll all find and worship Jesus – the person at the centre of Christmas From our Bible passage, we see firstly, the wise men’s journey was one of investigation Investigation Who were these wise men, and where were they from? Well, all we’re told in the text is they were Magi who came from the East They probably travelled from Persia or Babylon – that’s modern-day Iran or Iraq But what’s intriguing is they saw the appearance of a special star, as a sign of the birth of a new King, from a far-off country We’re used to seeing three wise men on our Christmas cards, and in art and literature We can picture them in long flowing robes, with turbans, and riding on camels But despite the lovely Christmas carols we enjoy, we’re not told their number, or that

they were kings We assume three, because of the three gifts It’s also likely, they arrived on Persian white horses, and with a large entourage – including troops of Persian soldiers The Magi were an important group of people who studied the movements of the stars – like astronomers – but not as we know them today They were intelligent men, who read ancient scrolls from different cultures – and importantly, they believed cosmic forces had an influence on life, history, and faith They were kind of ‘scientific theologians’ But how did these Persian men, know about the birth of the Jewish Messiah? Well, most likely, the Magi had read the writings of the prophet Daniel in the first part of the Bible Many years before, while Daniel and his people were exiled, the King of Persia made Daniel chief of his wise men In chapter 9 verses 25-27, Daniel records the future arrival of a King – the Anointed Ruler – who would eventually be put to death Also, the Magi may have known the prophecy of Balaam from the town of Pethor near Persia In Numbers 24:17, Balaam’s prophecy mentions a “star coming out of the family of Jacob, and a Sceptre rising out of Israel.” So, on seeing the bright star, the Magi believed it was a sign from God of the fulfilment of these ancient writings They saw no conflict between their scientific discovery and the exploration of God Of course, the harmony of faith and science isn’t universally accepted today, including by scientists like Professor Richard Dawkins – who doesn’t believe in God When I was a Chemist, colleagues would sometimes ask me: “David, how can you be a scientist and believe in God?” I usually explained that the pioneers of modern science – Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and James Clerk-Maxwell – were all believers in God In 2010, James Clerk-Maxwell was voted Scotland’s greatest scientist He’s rightly acclaimed as ‘The Father of Modern Physics’ for his discovery of the ‘Theory of Electromagnetism’ As Christian Professor, John Lennox put it: “These men became scientific because they expected law in nature – and they expected law in nature, because they believed in a Lawgiver.” The Magi naturally assumed the new king would be born in the capital not Bethlehem So when they reached Jerusalem they enquired: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When “King Herod heard about their enquiry he was really disturbed – and all Jerusalem with him.” The Herod mentioned here is Herod the Great He was called ‘Great’ because he built the Temple, and brought peace during his reign However, he was a tyrant who had any rivals to his throne killed – including his mother-in-law, his wife, and two sons! So when the Magi enquired, “where’s the new king?”, Herod was literally shaking at the news! The king quickly asked the chief priests and teachers of the law where the Messiah-king would be born They told him Micah the prophet said it would be in Bethlehem Now here’s the incredible thing The religious leaders knew the text – but wouldn’t travel 6 miles down the road to see Jesus Yet the Magi, who didn’t know the text, travelled 800 miles to find him You see, there’s a danger of complacency for us who are familiar with the Bible We know what it says, but do we know Jesus? Do we seek Jesus, follow Jesus with all our hearts and minds, and give Him the worship, He’s due? Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem to find the child, and then to report back to him – so he too could worship It was a lie, and when the Magi later found out Herod wanted Jesus dead – they headed straight back to Persia Friends, in our journey of faith to find and worship Jesus, let’s be like the wise men who display the Bible truth of Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Then we see in the journey of the Magi their adoration of Jesus Adoration The star which had alerted them to the birth of Jesus, now guided them to a house in Bethlehem We’re not told if they saw Jesus in the manger or not, or how long after the birth they arrived The important thing is when these intelligent men saw Jesus – they worshipped Him with awe, wonder, and love Notice their adoration was joyful They were filled with great joy when they saw his star because God had led them to the One who placed the stars in their orbits and named them I wonder if they asked Mary: “What’s his name?” And Mary would’ve replied, “we called him Jesus, because he was born to be the Saviour of the world – to save our people, and yours too – from their sin He’s Immanuel – God with us! O Come let us adore Him! Their adoration was also humble We’re told they bowed down to worship The physical posture of the Magi reflected the posture of their hearts Maybe they realised that their journey of 800 miles was nothing – compared to the journey God’s Son made from heaven to earth And their adoration was sacrificial The wise men had been worshipping Jesus in their hearts since they saw his star, and started their journey They worshipped him by giving their time, their energy, and finally in giving gold, frankincense and myrrh – which were typical Eastern gifts given to people of honour The Magi worshipped in the way described in Romans 12:1 “present your bodies as living sacrifices to God which is your fitting worship.” When we give to Jesus our time, talents and gifts, we’re saying “You’re my treasure, not these things.” And then finally, they made their way back home – back to their everyday lives They didn’t leave Jesus behind, but kept the blessing of their encounter with them And there’s a beautiful expression in verse 12 – “they went back by another road, inspired by God in a dream.” Isn’t that true for all of us once we meet with Jesus? We do take another road – life is never the same again And it’s also true, that under God’s guidance that way is chosen for us Dr Francis Collins is a present day ‘wise man’ In 1993 he became Director of the Institute that sequenced the 3.1 billion letters of DNA in the human genome It took 10 years His journey to finding Jesus was a longer one As a child, Francis sang in a church choir and had a vague awareness of God – but after studying Chemistry at university, he decided everything could be explained by equations, and so rejected the idea of God However, he later applied for medical school and came face to face with the reality of suffering and death One afternoon an elderly patient with terminal cancer spoke of the peace she had – and asked Francis what he believed He was shaken because he didn’t know – and so started reading CS Lewis’ book ‘Mere Christianity’ to investigate evidence for the Christian faith He slowly realised Jesus claimed not only to know God but to be God, and died on the cross for his sins Francis’ moment of commitment came while hiking in the Cascade Mountains As he rounded a corner, he was stunned by a frozen waterfall, hundreds of feet high The beauty of God’s creation was overwhelming Francis fell on his knees in prayer committing his life to Jesus Christ His search was over In the journey of the Eastern visitors to Jesus, we see our very own journey of faith We start with questions in our mind Then we step out on our journey of risk and vulnerability But it’s a journey that in God’s mercy leads us to the Christ-child, where we give him all that we have to offer And then God sends us out into a new journey with the love of Christ in our hearts So where are you on your journey to Jesus, and with Jesus? Charles Spurgeon once said: “Those who look for Jesus will see him . Those who truly see him will worship him

Those who worship him will consecrate their lives to him.” It’s my prayer on this final Sunday in 2020 that we’ll all seek Jesus, find Jesus, and worship Jesus Amen Our final song today is one I think the Magi would have sung – if William Fullerton had penned it in their day Please join with me in singing: ‘I Cannot Tell Why He Whom Angels Worship.’ Before we pray, let me encourage you to be like the Magi and Francis Collins and to keep

going on your journey in the faith, and for the faith No matter where we are on our spiritual journey, we all need help with our questions It would be good for you if you’re not in the practice of doing so already, to read the Bible each day – the New Year is a good time to start You’ll see some recommendations in the YouTube description section below Perhaps you want to find out more about how to become a Christian? We’d be delighted to send you a free booklet called ‘Journey into Life’ – please fill in your details on the contact page of the church website May you and your family know God’s blessing in 2021 Let’s pray Lord Jesus Christ, Your Word says, seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near We thank you we can come to you in this changed Christmas season to worship the One who is the same God yesterday, today and forever As we look back on an extraordinary year, what a journey it has been We thank you Lord for your faithfulness, your goodness, your daily strength when we didn’t know what each day might bring forth We take a moment to pray for families impacted by the virus – directly and indirectly Lord, comfort the bereaved, heal the sick, and strengthen families and frontline workers – caring for the ill, and administering the vaccine Wonderful Counsellor, please give wisdom and direction to the leaders of the nations at this critical time Lord, thank you for your journey from heaven to earth to be our Immanuel – God with us – even in our most difficult of times Your promise will always stand – ‘I will never leave you, not forsake you’ Help us to hold that promise close Lord Jesus you came to save us from our sin With humility, we confess we have fallen short of all that you made us to be Through your forgiveness, you welcome us to come with joy and find in you everything we will ever need for today, and our tomorrows Yet we want to find you, and discover more of your love, mercy and grace Lord, what can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb If I were a Wise Man I would do my part Yet what I can I give Him, Give my heart We adore You, we worship You, Saviour and Lord Amen thank you once again for joining our online service today we hope that you can take some encouragement from what you have seen and heard into the coming week At the close of 2020 we’d like to wish you all a very happy new year when it comes

Thanks again for watching and we’ll see you in 2021 God bless