CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
How Far Are We Willing to Go?
It has been
almost two weeks since the Christian world celebrated the birth of our Savior.
Today we are going to look at the ones who were not there the night, the day
Jesus was born. Some in the Christian world call January 6 the Feast of the
Epiphany, which is the day some believe the wise men arrived to pay their
respects to the newborn King of the Jews. As we read this morning, these Magi
or wise men came from the east. They had seen what is stated to be a star that
obviously was brighter and unlike any other star they had ever seen.
our Sunday School lesson talked in some detail about all the events concerning
the star, the wise men and their coming to worship this king. It stated these
wise men were probably advisors to the leaders of the land they lived in. That
they were probably astrologers who referred to the stars for guidance in their
recommendations to their leaders. When they saw this star in the sky, it was so
amazing, so miraculous they had to see what it was about. Their profession
compelled them to follow this star. Because it appears they came from some
distance away, it is believed these wise men were almost certainly Gentiles.
Whether they knew anything about the prophecies about a Messiah to the Jews or
not, we do not know. It is quite possible there were some living in their land
that knew the Jewish people were waiting for a Messiah. They also could see the
star was in the direction of Israel so they may have believed maybe, just maybe
the God of the Jews was about to do something miraculous. So off they went
following this star that was there for everyone to see.
several amazing things about this story. Before we get into some of them, I
want you to understand what I believe about this story, as well as others in
the Bible. I believe every one of the stories in the Bible tell of actual events
that really happened. While some of the events may have more than one meaning,
I believe they are all about things that did happen in the lives of God’s
people. That being said, let us look at some of the things that make this story
so amazing. First, we see that men from a long way away came to see what the
star really meant. Once again, most theologians believe the wise men were
Gentiles that made this long journey. Whether they knew who they were going to
see before they left their county or found out on the way they had become
convinced they were going to find the King of the Jews. They brought with them
expensive gifts fit for a king. So, the first amazing thing is that Gentile
Magi would travel months or even years to find this king who wasn’t one they
necessarily believed in.
amazing part is that it would seem none of the Jewish priests were in the least
interested about what had happened in Bethlehem. There is no mention of anyone
else from Israel realizing that the star was there for everyone to see had any
special significance for Israel and the Jewish people. When Jesus was born, the
shepherds came and saw what had happened and told everyone they saw about all
the things that had happened to them. Since it seems none of the locals
followed up on the shepherds’ story, does that mean they thought the shepherds
were nuts? That they had been out with the sheep too long?
So as I
considered what the Magi was willing to do and how far they had been willing to
go, I wondered how far would I be willing to go? How far have we been willing
to go for our Savior? We are not certain how far these men travelled to get to
Jesus, but we know they did not hop in their car and in a day of two were
there. They travelled for months, maybe even more than a year to see Jesus.
They put their lives on hold to see what the God of Israel may have done for
His people. How much have you and I given up to serve our King? I do not begin
to claim to know what God has, is, calling each of you to do for the Lord.
Maybe each one of you has done most all of the things the Lord has asked you to
do. But as I have been compelled to look honestly at my life, I must ask
myself, “Am I where the Lord wants me to be with my walk with the Lord?”
consider the faithfulness of the Magi in making this long journey to worship
the King and then their ability to listen to the Lord to not go back to Herod
as they originally planned to tell him where Jesus was, I wonder, “Am I as
committed and as connected to the Lord as these Gentiles were?”
What an amazing
story of God using the most unlikely to be part of His story. Some may view you
and me as unlikely parts of God’s story as well, but each and every one of us
need to realize we are important to God. And we are important parts of God’s
ongoing story. As with Mary and Joseph, as with the shepherds, as with the wise
men, there is just one requirement when God says, “Will you?” That is for us to
be willing to say, “Yes I will.” So how do we answer the question, “How far are
we willing to go?” How far have we been willing to go or our Lord and Savior?
Sunday School 9:00
Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study
Today after worship—special council meeting
nativity display at Millikin Homestead
January 14 after worship—board meeting
--Time for Messenger renewals and/or new
subscriptions. Pick up a form in the back if you want to subscribe via the
church club--$14.50 for 1 year. If you are renewing and there are no changes,
no need to fill out anything. Give new forms to Carol by January 14.
--2023 offering envelope summaries are complete and
are in church mailboxes or mailed
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
Donation Box for January: Utilities
First Sundays: Food Bank donations
in Your Prayers
Ava; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and
Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron &
Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Mike and Carol
Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Stacie
Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims of
shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Moracco;
Israel and Hamas war
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Panther Creek congregation
and the Youth/Young Adult Ministries office.