Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Christmas State of Mind (Conclusion)

During the Christmas season, our overwhelmed state of mind can overrule any opportunity for us to be overjoyed.
Here is our word: “OVERJOYED”—the result. This is the good part I was talking about. “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, and of incense and of myrrh.” Here is worship in its truest and loveliest form.
One of my most favorite things I found while looking at this text was the way Matthew worded “overjoyed” in the original language. If you have kids under 5, you know the TV show Charlie and Lola. Darling. The little sister, Lola, is known for her creative use of adjectives and adverbs as well as the unusual way she strings the words together. For example, “I must take very completely everything”, or “I am far too extremely busy”. This is what Matthew did when he described the wise men’s response. The original text says, “And having seen the star, they rejoiced with joy great exceedingly.” Superlatives pile upon superlatives to emphasize their exhilaration in true “Lola” form. Their rejoicing led them straight to their ultimate mission to worship Him and worship Him they did. They bowed low. They knelt. They prostrated themselves. They offered gifts. They sacrificed their time and energy to search for this One born King of the Jews. Their whole pilgrimage came to the pinnacle when they reached Joseph and Mary’s home. Once they were finally able to express their homage to the newborn King, their arrested hearts were released to return to their own country.

How can we worship our Savior at Christmas? Visit a live nativity. Have special prayer times. Read the Christmas story from Luke or pick up a special Christmas devotional book. Listen to music at home like Andrew Peterson's “Behold the Lamb of God” or any collection of music that draws you to worship. For children, throw a birthday party for Jesus. Take time to sing praises to Him and give the children an opportunity to give Him thanks. Know the “why” of your decorations. If we don’t know why, we don’t have the opportunity to worship. Consider an evergreen tree. In almost any culture throughout history it symbolizes eternity and everlasting life which our God is and offers. We credit Christmas lights to Martin Luther who after a walk one night came home and put candles on his tree so it would remind his children of the starry heavens the night Christ came down. There are books that have sections on this and many internet sites that explain the origins of our traditional decorations. If we know why and teach our children why, our homes will be full of reminders to be overjoyed and to worship the King during Christmas.
The sweetest example of this I know is a story about a little boy named Drew. His mother, Denise, has been my mentor for over 25 years. One Christmas morning she was awakened by her, then, 3 year old son when he sat up in bed and yelled for the whole house to hear, “Glory to the Newborn King!!”. As I had been blessed to observe, because of his parents intentionality, his heart had been primed for worship and worship he did………. as soon as he awakened.
As for our wise men, I think we need to remember, these guys were Gentiles. Their reason for being so excited had nothing to do with being delivered from oppression from the Romans. Just like little Drew, their reason for being “overjoyed with joy great exceedingly” was simply for WHO HE WAS, Jesus, the One born King of the Jews, the Savior of the world. In the end, they were overwhelmed by one thing only, the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever gotten to the end of Christmas and felt a little empty, or a little dissatisfied? Oh, I have absolutely and I really think it was because I missed it. I missed the WHO of Christmas. I missed my opportunity to pay homage to the King.
Isaiah 29:13 says, “The Lord says, 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” My heart didn’t truly enter Christmas. I went through the motions, followed the holiday rules taught by men but never took the opportunity for genuine worship of the Savior.
As we wrap this up, I have to ask, so what about you? Ever gotten lost in the holiday rules? Ever missed the Who of Christmas? For those of us who know Christ, we have a choice to make.
Or, IS this Jesus the magi sought out so carefully your Savior this Christmas? The one conceived by the Holy Spirit and born 2000 years ago to a virgin girl named Mary? The One who willingly died on a cross for our sins? The One who walked out of the tomb defeating death in every way? His sole purpose in coming was to free our hearts from sin, give us life more abundantly and give us life eternal with Him. He wants nothing more than to have a relationship with us. That’s what’s so neat about the wise men – their presence in the Christmas story, is OUR, the Gentiles, open invitation to seek Him, find Him and worship Him. The thing about Jesus is that He already loves you no matter what. Romans 5:8 says this, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He just wants you to love Him back. He wants to take full responsibility for your life as you yield yourself wholly to Him. With no hesitation or doubt whatsoever, I can say you will never regret giving your heart to Him. As you bow to Him this Christmas, may you get up being changed forever. Make Him your treasure this Christmas.

Reality check #1: Friday morning as I began to decorate, one small detail didn't fall into place. I reacted and my kind husband sat me down Friday morning to remind me of my last 3 posts.

#2: The other morning, Brighton, awakened singing, "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree". (Denise, where did I go wrong?)


Sarah said...

I have loved all of these posts, Krista. You are so wise in so many areas, including this one. Christmas at the Sanders will forever be a worshipful one... passed on through many generations

TJ Wilson said...

Ditto to Sarah. I think my fav thing on the blog right now is your extended family pic from last year. That's awesome. One of my other fav things is Jeff's gentle reminders. Familiar. :)

Shannon said...

I've loved reading through your series of blogs on this - and just wanted to comment that we LOVE Andrew Peterson's Lamb of God CD. Hands down, one of our favorites. Also, I bet you already know this, but there is a book called Martin Luther's Christmas Book - a great read to start the season off with the right perspective.