Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Bringing Gifts

January 1st, 2012:

Call:   Isaiah 60: 1-6
Text:   Matthew 2: 1-12
Read:   Psalm 72        (795)

                                Bringing Gifts

New Year's Day is the one holiday that is a holiday
        Simply because it is a date
        And not because of anything that happened on the date.

It is not like nothing ever happened on January 1
        In 1963, President Lincoln - as promised the previous Sept.
        Signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

On a more personal level
        One year ago today, Bill Eldridge died
        Six years ago today, Marge's mother died
                In our household
we have already remembered both in our prayers

But today is Epiphany
        Which we celebrate on the first Sunday in January every year

And because it is Epiphany, my mind was drawn to other dates
        Dates of importance
        For what took place on those dates
                In the lives of this congregation.

The first date was quite recent
November 27, 2011 - The first Sunday in Advent
        Four people (Greg, Jenny, Stacey, and Vivian)
stood right here in front of you
And promised to serve Christ through this congregation
        By participating in its ministries
by their Prayers,       by their presence,
by their gifts,                 and by their service.

The second date was also recent:                June 12, 2011 - Pentecost
        Eight people
(Dan, Rachel, Leah and Leah)
(Samie, Lucas, Garrett, and Taylor) (our confirmation class)
stood right here in front of you
And promised to serve Christ through this congregation
        By participating in its ministries
by their Prayers,       by their presence,
by their gifts,                 and by their service.

For others, the dates are different,
but the promises made while people stood right up here
were the same

For Dale and Julie Petry        The date was March 9, 2003
They stood right up here and made that same promise

For Effa Sullivan       The date was January 17, 1999
For both Steve and Christine Thomas
And Ken and Carol Willmert
The date was December 15, 1985

The date was October 15, 1967   for Betsy Baker
The date was April 21, 1957     for Grace Smith
The date was
March 29, 1942 for Dorotha Van Ness,
        April 18, 1943 for Vi Cook
And     March 25, 1945 for Walt Theobald

They all stood right up here
And they all made the same promise.

And over the nearly 200 years this congregation has gathered for worship and service,
Hundreds of others joined them by
Standing right here in front of you or your predecessors
And promising to serve Christ through this congregation
        By participating in its ministries
by their Prayers,       by their presence,
by their gifts,                 and by their service.

Long before Greg and Jenny and Stacie and Vivian
Long before even Dorotha, Vi, and Walt
        Some men from the east
        Promised themselves that they would respond to Christ
                By their presence and by their gifts

Those men - those Magi - traveled westerly
        Following a star,
        seeking advice,
        and finally finding the Baby and his mother.

Those magi stood in the presence of the new born king

And they gave him gifts
        Fit for someone of his stature
        King and god, and sacrifice.

And now, on Epiphany
        When we remember those men
When we recall their trip
When we observe and reflect upon their gifts
        You and I ask
                What gift can we bring?
Well,           What gift can we bring?
        What present?   What token?

As we come here to the very spot where five weeks ago
        Greg, Jenny, Stacie, and Vivian promised
        Like this year's eight confirmands had promised
Like Dale, Julie, and Effa had promised
Like Steve and Chris and Carol and Ken had promised
Like Betsy and Grace had promised
Like Dorotha, Vi, and Walt had promised
And like hundreds of others in the past had promised
                To worship and follow Christ
                        Not only by prayers, presence, and service,
                        But also by their gifts
        We ask ourselves the question, "What gift can we bring?"

Or perhaps more accurately
        "What gifts can we bring?"

For the people in this congregation
        May not bring him gold, frankincense, and myrrh
        But we do have a multitude of gifts.

Some write well, some sing well, some speak well.
Some sew well, some knit well, some paint well,
Some smile well         Some listen well                Some empathize well

Some know things that can help
Some know people with resources to help

Some have time          Some have energy.

All these are gifts
All these gifts are from God.
And all are gifts that we want to use and bring to Christian service
And so, we, a group of diverse people
come together to praise
and give thanks to God for all those gifts,

Recognizing as the writer of a hymn which we probably should have sung today
describes us as:
        Many gifts, One spirit
        One love in many ways

        In our differences is blessing
        From diversity we praise
                One Giver, one Lord,
                One Spirit, one word
                Known in many ways (and) hallowing our days

        For the Giver   we praise, praise, praise.

Using our God given gifts
        Is how we praise
Using those gifts together
        Is how we proclaim the good news
        And how we keep our promises we made right up here
                Not only to participate with our gifts
                But also to participate with our service.

If the magi could bring their gifts,
        You and I can certainly bring ours
For it is so much easier for us than it was for the magi

The magi rode mile after mile and day after day
        To take their gifts to the Christ child
For most of us we ride just a few miles
and we do so for less than twenty minutes
to bring our gifts to the risen Christ
The magi had to go home a different way
        So that Herod would not catch them
You and I can linger all we want
We can go out to eat and/or attend a public concert
We can return home at our leisure
        Unafraid of being caught by anyone
who might do harm to us or to the king to whom we bring the gifts

This king was and is a gift to us
        first by his coming into this world
        second by his life, his death, and his resurrection
and     third by continuing to be with us even unto today.

As we simultaneously
celebrate Epiphany and begin a fresh calendar year
You and I need to resolve
        To follow the examples of both the Christ and the Magi
        By constantly, consistently and continually
using the gifts he has given us
                Not just for our own good
                        But for the good of this king
And for the good of all his/ours brothers and sisters.

Just as we promised - right up here!

If do we keep that resolution
we will bring to life one of the lessons
        That make Epiphany so wonderful and so important.