Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Dramatic Reading of the Nativity Story For Christmas Eve

Voice 1: Luke 2:1-7

Voice 2: Matt 2:1-6

Voice 1: Luke 2:8-18

Voice 2: Matt 2:7-9

Voice 1: Luke 2:20

Voice 2: Matt 2:10-12

Voice 1: Luke 2:19

The whole sequence of readings can be found here

The Message Based on These Readings

{Proviso: The idea for this sermon came from Dunkle-Mackey Preaching seminar taught on September 20, 2010. This seminar was sponsored by the Peninsula-Delaware conference of the United Methodist church and was taught by Professor Troeger. It was also inspired by the Nativity presentation done by the Sunday school children at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist church on December 19, 2010}

We just heard two accounts of the events that happened around our Savior’s birthday! Isn’t it surprising how different these two stories are? The story that the shepherds told to their grandchildren and to us is very different from the story that the Magi recorded in their learned journals for posterity.

So today I want to ask you:  are you a shepherd or a magi?

Living in relatively unspoiled Cecil County we are used to seeing lots of stars. On a clear night there are thousands of them, tiny specks of light, suspended there in deep space by our Creator, faithfully sending their light towards us. They look so tiny to the naked eye;  no bigger than the tip of a pin or needle.

Looking at one such speck of light, the magi were able to discern that something wonderful has happened in the distant land of Judea.

Compare that to what happened to the shepherds. They were sitting in a field when an angel appeared to them, scared them half to death, told them that they were going to be OK, told them what was happening, after which they saw a “great company of the heavenly host.” (Matt 2:13). Wouldn’t you like to see a “great company of the heavenly host?” I know I would. I wonder what a “great company of the heavenly host” looked like? I wonder what they sounded like?

So today I want to ask you: are you a shepherd or a magi?

Based on information from a star suspended far-far away in space, a star that looked like a speck of light the size of a tip of a pin, the Magi left their comfortable lives behind and embarked on a long, arduous journey to discover for themselves what has happened. By the way, the Magi did not know their final destination; they thought that their final destination would be Jerusalem.

Our imagination makes that star larger than the other stars so that the Magi could follow it easily and effortlessly, but if we think of it, if that star was so large, why didn’t anyone else see it or follow it? That star had to be just a tiny speck of light.

The shepherds, on the other hand, were told exactly what was happening and they were given a “GPS” with detailed instructions on how to get to their destination.

The journey that the Magi took and the journey that the shepherds took were very different. The magi traveled for months, exposed to the dangers and hardships of the road. And when they thought that they had arrived at the end of their journey, they were actually in the worst place that they could find themselves – in Herod’s palace. Only by the grace of God and by Herod’s oversight were they able to escape with their lives.

The shepherds, on the other hand, had a detailed “triptik” with turn-by-turn directions that took them right to the scene of the nativity, and, if I had to guess, their journey took no longer than fifteen or twenty minutes.

So today I want to ask you: are you a shepherd or a magi?

We all find God differently. Many of us are given all the help, information and explanations that we need in order to understand and know what it means to have God in our hearts, and to know how we can come to God. The words “Sunday school” and a “loving church family” come to mind.

But for some others that journey begins with a feeling of something that tugs on the very essence of our beings and which propels us towards a search for the source of that discomfort. Initially we may not know how to react to this discomfort and we may drown it with busyness, education, partying, vacations, possessions, and other what-nots. Eventually, though, after enduring a long journey filled with sharp and frustrating twists and turns we find God.

We all come to God by different roads. For some of us it is an arduous journey, filled with dangerous turns and terrifying moments –anxiety, frustration, fear, sickness, addiction, loss… For some of us it is as easy as a stroll from point A to point B.

But by the grace of God, regardless of our past, or journeys that we’ve been on or are on at present, all of us are invited and all of us have a place at the manger where we are free to worship God and accept his gift of life with Him. As a beacon of light, our church community stood on this hill for over 170 years reflecting and projecting the light that originates with the Holy Spirit helping its members to grow in their relationship with God.

So whether you are a shepherd or a magi {Open the altar}

{Proviso: The idea for this sermon came from Dunkle-Mackey Preaching seminar taught on September 20, 2010. This seminar was sponsored by the Peninsula-Delaware conference of the United Methodist church and was taught by Professor Troeger. It was also inspired by the Nativity presentation done by the Sunday school children at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist church on December 19, 2010}

Here is a link to the first draft of the Nativity Story For Christmas Eve

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