Worship 3

Luke 2:27-29

Christmas is filled with so many traditions – traditions that involve sights and smells and tastes – that there are many things that can trigger a memory. Looking out the window on a cloudy, winter day can conjure up memories of years past sitting in the warmth and comfort of home with family. Or the strong smell of cinnamon can bring back images of holidays past, times of laughter and joy. Getting out the decorations can summon recollections of all the years of celebration.

It is delightful when the joy of Christmas breaks into the humdrum of everyday life. In Luke we have a story of a man named Simeon, a devout and religious man whose encounter with Jesus is often overlooked. Why did Simeon go into the courts? What did Simeon do and say?

We can imagine that Simeon was an older man who has spent many days and months and years attending to the rituals of the temple in the hope that some day God would reveal to him the Messiah who was promised. On this day Simeon was going about his business when the Holy Spirit nudged him to enter into the temple courts. There, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, was a young couple with a baby.

And that was when the joy and holiness of this child broke into Simeon’s life. And what did Simeon do? He gathered the baby in his arms and offered praise to God. He stopped what he had been doing and spent a moment giving glory to the Lord for the gift of Christ. The blessings of the birth had broken into his life and this man took some time to worship.

We might look forward to Christmas every year. We might get as excited as a child as the big day nears, but so often we can feel empty when it passes. We can sometimes feel that we missed Christmas because we just didn’t get enough joy.

We need to be like Simeon and stop what we are doing so we can take the time to worship God. We need to make the room in our hearts and in our arms for the baby born in Bethlehem. Make room to worship Jesus this holiday.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you make the time to worship Jesus this Christmas?

Worship 2

Matthew 2:9-11

The holidays can become such a busy time. There are times when the schedule simply becomes overloaded – a holiday concert, the company Christmas party, a friend’s party, family gatherings, shopping. Such a hectic schedule can rob us of the joy that Christmas should bring us.

And who is to blame for all this exhausting pace? We can point the finger at this person or that, or claim it is just what happens in our society. But the truth is that we allow ourselves to feel frantic and we succumb to the pressures to be here, there, and everywhere.

In Matthew we have the story of the wise men, also called Magi. What led them? What was their reaction? What did they do when they saw Jesus?

These wise men – whether they are astrologers, sages, scientists, or scholars – had discovered a strange event in the night sky and knew that it was a sign of something powerful. They knew a great king was born and they had no intention of missing out on the event. So they packed up their gifts and traveled to Jerusalem to find him. Their first stop was with the current king, a bold move since this new king would likely surpass him.

But these were bold men. They were bold enough to travel a great distance to see the new king. They were bold enough to have an audience with the ruthless Herod. And they were bold enough to follow the guidance of a star to find the one they sought.

Ultimately they were rewarded by finding the baby, Christ, the new king, the Messiah. They had the opportunity to worship Jesus and offer him the gifts he deserved.

What about us? Can we be bold enough to resist the hectic schedule? Can we be bold enough to say “no” to at least some of the invitations, and instead spend some time as a family and with friends worshiping our king? The Magi sought him, found him, and worshiped. Will you find him and worship this year?

DAILY CHALLENGE: If your holiday schedule is filling up, take some time to add to it. Add “family time” or “time with friends” or “worship” to your calendar and then make sure you fulfill that appointment.

Worship 1

This week we begin a four part series inspired by "The Advent Conspiracy." You can learn more about what we are doing as a church and what's going on here. We've also got the video clip that we showed in church this morning. I hope you'll watch it again and really pray that God will show you how he wants to you to worship Him this Advent season!

Isaiah 9:1-2

It isn’t always easy to get ready for the holidays. In fact there are times when it feels that it isn’t ever easy to prepare for the holidays. Trying to organize all the parts of the worship services, to plan out the activities, to set schedules and events, to gather the materials can be a tremendous task and there are many times when things just don’t seem to come together.

But one thing I have learned over the years is that there is always a solution to the problem. Things work out.

It may be difficult in our current society to put ourselves in the position of the Israelites before Jesus. There was a hope that often fell back into hopelessness as they waited for the Messiah. Or perhaps we can identify with them as we look at our present circumstances and feel totally lost facing financial problems, challenges in relationships and troubles in our lives.

In spite of the darkness around us there is a light. And that light is the light of love from God expressed in Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah offers some words of hope. What assurances does he give? What hope do the people have?

This prophet from so long ago knew that the Lord was coming. He would be from the area of Galilee and he would offer a tremendous hope and promise for a brighter, happier, more contented life. We know the story of Christmas. We know the story of Jesus and the light he brought.

But we can allow our culture and our hectic holiday schedule to overshadow that bright love from God. We can allow our Christmas time to be a time of worry and stress and fear and upset.

We need to cling to these promises from Isaiah. Christmas should be a time of hope and celebration. Most importantly it should be a time where we worship the gift of Jesus Christ, a gift of love from God. There is a solution to the crazy holiday rush and stress. The solution is to focus on the light which has dawned for all of us. The solution is to worship God and turn our holidays back into a time of praise and celebration of God’s love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Christmas is usually a time of traditions. Which tradition of yours helps you to worship God at this time?