Last night I shared this piece at Common Ground, our church’s women’s ministry. If you’ve never been and live in the area, you should consider coming (end of shameless plug).
I thought I would share it with all of you as well. I’ll post the first half today, then be sure to check back tomorrow for part two.
My head spins when I think about all the preparations needed to get ready for Christmas. Find, set up , and decorate a tree. Haul the rest of the decorations down from the attic. Decorate the inside of the house. Decorate the outside of the house. Bake cookies, make candy. Not just candy, fudge. Finish my Christmas shopping. Wrap presents. Plan, shop for, and prepare Christmas Eve Dinner. Christmas Brunch. Christmas Dinner. And then track down award-winning ugly sweaters for the company Christmas party.
There are so many, many things to do. Planning. Shopping. Wrapping. Baking. Preparing. We prepare lists. We prepare our homes. We prepare meals.
How do we prepare for Christmas?
We might bake cookies. What does this involve? We have to find the recipe. We need to check the pantry for ingredients we already have. We make a list and go to the store for what we still need. We preheat the oven.
We prepare for company. What does this involve? We clean the house. Even down to the baseboards. We change linens for overnight guests. We decorate with trees, lights, knick-knacks. We light candles.
We’ll even hang empty stockings – in hopes that they will be filled with gifts and goodies.
But as the world says prepare for Christmas. Let’s instead prepare for Christ.
Just as we clean the house, we can clean up our hearts. We can take a good look at ourselves, wipe out the cobwebs. Anger? Jealousy? Gossip? Arrogance? Hidden behaviors? Clear it out! Drop it off at the Goodwill!
Like reading the recipe book and going through the pantry when baking cookies, we can dig through the Bible, looking for the things we need, things that we already have, and what we still need to seek out.
And as we put up decorations, sweet smelling evergreen boughs and trees, sentimental ornaments, glistening lights – we make our home inviting, warm, and welcoming for our family and for our guests. Are we warm, welcoming and inviting? Do we draw people into ourselves like the glowing display of lights around our porches or are we closed up and dark?
What gift do we have for Christ this Christmas?
When you select and wrap a gift for someone, you spend time thinking about them. What do they like, dislike? What brings them joy? You purchase it for them with great anticipation. As you wrap it you think about how they are going to feel when they open it. You can’t wait to see their reaction.
When you give someone a gift, you aren’t doing it to seek favor from that person, you’re giving them a gift because you love them, you appreciate them, and you hope that by giving them this gift you can somehow show them exactly how much.
That’s how I want my worship to be, not just at Christmas but all the time. Not out of obligation or to somehow seek favor. Not to make amends, I can’t do that. But I can give praise to my Jesus because I love him. And my hope is that somehow, through my worship I can show him how much. I hope my gift of worship will bring him joy.
And what about those empty stockings over the fireplace?
As we hang our Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve night, we can be waiting and anticipating what he might have for us?
Maybe we can think about positioning our cold, empty selves in front of the warmth of God’s love, allowing our bodies and souls to be filled with His care, His blessings, His abundance.