The Songs of Christmas: What Child is This? (Matthew 2)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
January 1: What Child is This?
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
These are the notes from a message offered Epiphany Sunday, 1/6/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

History of What Child is This?
William Chatterton Dix was born in Bristol, England in 1837. In 1865, Dix was working as the manager of a maritime insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. He was suddenly struck by a severe illness that confined him to bed and brought on severe depression. He began to read the Bible with great fervor and to write spiritual poetry.  His near-death experience raised him to new life physically and spiritually.

What Child is This? By William C. Dix (UMH #219)
What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,  while shepherds watch are keeping?

Refrain:  This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. (Refrain)

Additional Verse: Nails, spear shall pierce him through; the cross he bore for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the Son of Mary!

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own him; The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him. (Refrain)

What makes a great gift?

Story of Laura and Kevin’s engagement

Laura and Kevin engagement

A great gift is thoughtful, surprising, takes time and effort, is given from a place of love. A great gift has a deeper meaning. 

The deeper meaning behind the gifts brought by the wise men/Magi (Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV)

gold frankincense myrrhThe gifts of the wise men/Magi are precious, expensive, have a deeper meaning.

  • Gold
    • They expect to find a king.
    • They were searching for a leader who is worthy to be followed, worthy to give our allegiance.
  • Frankincense (dried tree sap)
    • Used as medicine or to offer prayers.
    • They were searching for something greater than themselves, the Holy, the Divine, one who is worthy to be worshiped.
  • Myrrh (dried tree sap)
    • Used for cleaning wounds and embalming.
    • They were looking for one who would bring them healing and wholeness.

The gifts point to who Jesus is and what he will do

Last Verse of We Three Kings by John Henry Hopkins: Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and SacrificeAlleluia, Alleluia, Earth to heaven replies

Last Verse of In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti: 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.

So much more than just bringing our heart or even your money Bring You, the entirety of you, You are the treasure. Bring it all, give it all.

Jesus, you are King and God and Sacrifice
We bring you our gold: our prosperity, our possessions, our productivity
We bring you our frankincense: our worship, our reverence, our prayers
We bring you our myrrh: our brokenness, our grave clothes, our dust

Invitation to join one of the Reaching Ministries of the church. 

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

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What Child is This © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: All will be Brought to Light (Matthew 2.1-12)

vision eye see

Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road
– Matthew 2:12

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light
Radiant One, give us wisdom
to know when to wait and when to act
to know what to pick up and what to leave behind

The hidden will be brought to light
hidden words
hidden thoughts
hidden actions of our hands
hidden motives of our hearts

Radiant One, give us wisdom
to stand- trusting all will be revealed
to bow- knowing all will be revealed

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Be sure to check out some wonderful prayers based on this scripture passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes, entitled Another Road and Inward Magi.

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: Gift Giving (Matthew 2.1-12)

gift present manger

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11

We bring you our gold
our achievements
our prosperity
our productivity

We bring you our frankincense
our traditions
our rituals
our urging

We bring you our myrrh
our brokenness
our grave clothes
our dust

You bring us you
Priceless
Transcendent
Eternal

Humble
Present
Vulnerable

Grace greater than our every gift

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Prayer: Gift Giving © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Star of Jacob (Numbers 24, Matthew 2)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 4: The Messiah as Star of Jacob
Readings: Numbers 24:15-19; Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10 

Numbers 24:17, The Voice
Balaam: I see him, but at a later time,
I’ll recognize him, even though he is far away.
A star will come out of Jacob,
A scepter shall rise out of Israel.

Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10, The Voice
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries.

Wise Men: Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.

The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared—a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay.

Clearly did Balaam reveal to us
The meaning of the words which were prophesied,
Saying that a Star would rise up,
A Star which would dim all prophecies and divination,
A Star to destroy the parables of the wise,
Their teachings and their enigmas,
A Star much brighter than this star which just appeared,
For He is the Maker of Stars
About whom it was written: ‘From Jacob shall rise up
A newborn babe, the God before time.’
– Romanos

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light
– John H. Hopkins, Jr.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Bright Morning Star
Rising in the nightfall of our creation

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Divine Light shining in the darkness
No evil overcomes you

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Your brilliance radiates near and far
Drawing us into your presence

There we find
hope
healing
meaning
truth
life

There we find you
Everything we long for
Everything we strive for
Everything we need

Thank you for showing us the way

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

The Messiah as Star of Jacob © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- What are you Searching For? (Matthew 2)

journey-of-the-magi_james_tissot

Journey of the Magi by James Tissot

Message: What are You Searching For?
Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12
Offered 12/24/16, Christmas Eve, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Why We Three Kings is my least favorite Christmas Song.

  • More than three people traveled from far away lands to find Jesus, the newborn King. A huge caravan was needed to make the long trip. It was large enough and grand enough to get King Herod’s attention when they came to Jerusalem.
  • They brought more than three gifts. They opened treasure chests of gifts (Matthew 2:11) which included gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  • They weren’t kings. The Magi were an ancient combination of scientist and priest. They were wise interpreters of dreams and studied the heavens for answers and signs. They were educated, respected, powerful, well connected, and influential, but not kings.
  • By the time the Magi planned their trip, financed the trip, and completed their long and difficult trip, Jesus was no longer a babe in the manger. He was a year or so old.

The Wise Ones are seeking. They are doing the best they can to figure out the answers, and so are we. God honors and answers our seeking.

What do they bring?

  • Gold- They expect to find a king. They were searching for a leader who is worthy to be followed, worthy to give our allegiance.
  • Frankincense- Used to offer prayers. In the ancient world many rulers, like Caesar, proclaimed themselves gods. They were searching for something greater than themselves, the Divine, one who is worthy to be worshiped.
  • Myrrh- Used for embalming and used as medicine. They were looking for one who would bring them healing and wholeness.

We’re looking for the same things.

Like us, the Magi go to the logical place looking for those answers. They go to King Herod, the bearer of empire and worldly power. Herod the Great, the one who rebuilt Judea, brought relative peace to the region and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem, a wonder of the ancient world.

Herod was also a literal madman. Paranoid of any threat to his power and position, he had multiple family members murdered including his wife, mother-in-law, a couple of brothers-in-law, and three of his children. Herod is the villain of the Christmas story. The only things we find with him are deception and violence.

The Wise Ones eventually make their way to Bethlehem. They find the Child and they find what they are looking for.

  • They find One who is worthy to be followed. Jesus, the One who will shepherd the people, who will tend the flock. In the city of David, they find One who is a good shepherd, a servant King, who will lay down His life for the sheep.
  • They find One who is God, who is worthy to be worshiped. Not someone who is pretending to be God, nor someone who sits on the throne of his own heart. Jesus, the One who is worthy to sit on the throne of our hearts. The Word of God made flesh. The Love of God made real. The One who is always near, always good, always strong.
  • They find the One who brings us hope and light and healing and wholeness. Truth, not lies. Life, not violence and death.

What do they do? They lay their gifts before Him and they lay themselves before Him and they rejoice with exceedingly great joy for they have found what they are looking for.

The good news my friend is Jesus will still be found. God honors and answers your seeking. Jesus is what you’re looking for.

The Wise Ones do not return by way of Herod. They return home new and by a new road. Let us do the same.

This sermon recording concludes with a time for prayer and a Great Thanksgiving before Holy Communion.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer Poem: God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain (Matthew 2:19-23)

walking home road2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 31 Reading: Matthew 2:19-23
Returning From Egypt

He made his home in a town called Nazareth
– Matthew 2:23

Prayer Poem: God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain
God who brings the cleansing rain
saturate our thirsty bones
with the milk of mercy sweet
with the blood that brings us home

God who rules the fiery sun
kindle now our brittle hearts
set ablaze our tender lives
forge our ways till sin departs

God who rides the winds of change
anchor us against its wrath
set our face toward holy ends
fix our walk upon your path

God who sends the silent snows
quiet us against your breast
cover us with hope-filled wings
whisper soft your word of rest

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer Poem: God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain © 2010 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer: End the Madness (Matthew 2:16-18)

man-crying-help-4x3_540x405_thumb32014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 30 Reading: Matthew 2:16-18
Herod’s Genocide

He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
who were two years old and under
– Matthew 2:16

Prayer: End the Madness
Hear our cry!
Head our plea!
Death is at the door
Evil is taking the day

Fear makes us crazy
Relief supplies rotting on the docks
Vaccines waiting on shelves
Riots in the streets
Abortions of convenience
Human trafficking
Suicide bombers
Genocide
War

End our madness
Deliver us from bloodshed
Deliver us from us

Come quickly
Come in power
Your power, not ours
Rescue your beloved
Lord, where else can we go?

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: End the Madness © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.