Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Worship

I absolutely love the Christmas season.  I love the decorations, the tasty treats, the music, the sentiment...  I can hardly wait for the day after Thanksgiving, not because I want to join the throngs of shoppers on Black Friday, but because that's when the Christmas decorations can come out of hiding.  One of my favorite parts of decorating is when our family puts out our nativity scene.  And not just any old nativity scene.  No, this is the one from my own childhood, the one I treasured so much that I finally convinced my parents to give it to me as an adult.  Each year we set each piece out as carefully as can be. In fact, my boys were being...well, boys... this year and were being a little too rambunctious with the wise men.  My husband informed them that they had better stop, because they would break my heart if they broke my nativity scene. 

As much as I treasure that old manger scene, I have to say, I love how we put it on display more than the actual pieces themselves.  We don't just take it out of the box and set it on the table.  Instead, we've started our own little tradition of having a family worship time that culminates in the setting out of the nativity.  We gather around the hymnal with Scott at the piano, and we sing the old Christmas hymns together (and there's nothing sweeter than the sound of my children's voices as they belt out "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"), and then read the Christmas story together, passing the book around among those of the kids who can read.  Sometimes we read from "The Story for kids", sometimes "The Jesus Storybook Bible."  No matter which version we read, we worship together as we remember Jesus' not-so-grand entrance into our world.  At last, we set out the pieces of the nativity scene, with each of the children picking their favorite ones and re-telling their role in the story.  It's a really beautiful time for our family; one that I hope they grow to treasure as much as I do.

Just last Sunday we had this year's annual family worship time, just a few minutes after a group of women dispersed from our living room.  We had gathered to pray for a sister in Christ who had lost her young husband after only five years of marriage.  That meeting, too, was an act of worship.

So many times, we think of worship only as what we do "at church."  Even more, we limit "worship" to that 15 or 20 minutes at the beginning of "church" during which we sing together.  But worship is so, so much more than just singing.

I did a little study on the subject of worship a couple of weeks ago, and I came across this great quote by Harold Best, in his book "Music Through the Eyes of Faith."  He says: Worship is "acknowledging that someone or something else is greater -- worth more -- and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared, and adored...Worship is the sign that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it."

Worship is acknowledging that God is greater than me, worth more than me, and that I want to be mastered by Him. Worship takes on many different forms.  Singing, yes, (and it doesn't even matter what style of songs!) but praying, studying, listening, sharing in the Lord's Supper... these are all different means of worshiping.  Worship happens in "corporate" (group) settings, but it also happens in the quietness of your own home.  You can worship with the radio cranked up in your car as you belt out the words to your favorite song.  Or you can worship as you fall before Him and cry out for His comfort and mercy.

Paul says in Romans 12:1 that to offer God our bodies -- our selves -- is a spiritual act of worship.  To simply acknowledge that God is our master, our authority, our final Word, is to worship Him.  "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done..." (Matt. 6:10)

Make time to worship during this Christmas season.  Stop and recognize that He is worthy of your adoration and your devotion.  Take a moment to bow before Him in submission, and to raise your hands to Him in praise.  Worship Him with your life as you give yourself over to be mastered by Him.  If Christmas is supposed to be about giving, what better gift could you lay before the King?

Have a blessed Christmas.

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