Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Not To Be A Grinch- Part 1

This week at WNW we began a Christmas series called "How Not To Be A Grinch".  We began the night with a trivia game that asked the students questions based on the cartoon movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".  After that we did a worship set that included:  Song of Hope, Joy to the World, Offering, and How Many Kings.

I talked about how it seems that in the month of December there is a wide array of emotions that people experience.  Some are giddy and happy all the time during the Christmas season.  Others are sad because they miss family and friends that have passed on.  Others are greedy because they want everything.  Then there are those who I like to refer to as "grinchy".  I know that is a made up word but I believe it fits here.  Someone who is "grinchy" seems to be in a bad mood, and do not show care for those around them.  It could be because of situations in their own life, but for whatever reason they have a sour attitude.  We see this in one of the first scenes of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as it talks about how the Grinch hates the Who's. It could have been because his shoes were too tight, or maybe because his head wasn't screwed on just right, but probably because his heart was 2 sizes too small.  The Grinch hated the Who's so much that he was willing to ruin their Christmas by taking it away from them and stealing all of their belongings.

So then we opened up our Bibles to Matthew 2:1-12 and read about the Magi, aka the Wise Men.  I talked about many of the truths in this passage that is often changed in our modern Christmas plays such as: we don't know how many Magi there were but there were at least 2, tradition tells us 3 but the Bible does not say for sure; also the Magi did not arrive while Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were still in the stable but it could have been as much as 2 years later based on the fact that they were now in a house, the word child was used, and that Herod had all boys ages 2 and under killed.  We know that when the Magi worshipped Jesus they presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Many traditions tell us that these gifts each had symbolic meanings, but this is probably not the case.  What we do not normally think about is that in the verses afterward Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were led to flee to Egypt and live for a period of time while Herod was killing all boys ages 2 and under.  The gifts that the Magi presented Jesus would have helped fund the trip to Egypt and help provide for them during this time.  So essentially we can say that the gifts that the Magi gave Jesus helped save His life.

So how does this and "grinchy" attitude all tie together to us today.  Well this was the official kick-off for our upcoming World Vision 30 Hour Famine.  January 27-28 we will fast for 30 hours to gain a small understanding of what hunger is like.  In the time leading to this we will be raising funds to go toward children in need.  Why do we do this?  Because every day at least 22,000 children die of preventable diseases such as hunger, pneumonia, etc.  This means a child dies every 8-12 seconds.  How is it is then that we say that one of the names of God is Jehova-Jireh which means "The Lord provides"?  Well the truth is, God has provided enough food and clean water for the entire world, but there is also injustice and sin that exists because of our sinful choices.  This means that is up to us to help the poor and less fortunate and provide for them.  Luke 12:33 is just one of many verses where Jesus  speaks on giving to the poor.  I watched a video on the story of Katie Davis the other day- you can watch the video and learn about her amazing story here.  In this video she states "Jesus doesn't ask that we care for the less fortunate- He demands it.  When calling ourselves Christ-followers, caring for orphans, the desolate, and the widow are not an option, it's a requirement".  

So here was my challenge for the students.  Just as the gifts the Magi gave Jesus helped save His life, I asked that the students would consider what they could give to save the life of a poor child.  I ask you to consider the same.  What might God be calling you to give up this Christmas season so you can give to the poor.  I challenged the students to consider sponsoring a child through World Vision or Compassion International because not only are these organizations helping physically save the lives of children in need, they are also presenting them the Gospel and leading them to Jesus.  So ask yourself what you can give, and also ask God to search your own heart to see if you have any "grinchy" attitudes or hate within you that will keep you from helping someone in need.

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