Monday, December 22, 2008

O Come Let Us Adore Him

For weeks now I have rolled over in my head what really is all of this Christmas stuff about. I shared with some friends that around November, I began to dread December. I grew up in a family that knew that Christmas wasn't about Santa, it was about Christ. Now that I am a mom, I am so convicted that my children are to truly understand what this time of year is about.

The way America celebrates Christmas literally makes me ill. I am not one of those who thinks it is so wonderful that everyone whether they believe in God or not is singing songs about him at least once a year. They are not singing to him, they are simply singing a song they grew up hearing. What I see is that Christmas has become about the Christmas list. It is all about what you are buying for someone or what you are asking someone to buy you.

I listened to people at church this morning in simple conversation ask others if they are ready for Christmas. What they meant was if they were finished shopping? Did they have their house decorated & their goodies all baked? Not one mention of our Lord Jesus. My children were asked several times what they wanted for Christmas. Then one mother asked me if they believed in Santa, when I said no she was very surprised. At that point she had no other questions for my boys. It was like she didn't know what to ask them anymore if she couldn't ask them what they wanted Santa to bring them.

So, what are we doing? Why are we Christians celebrating Christmas? The way many of us celebrate looks just like the rest of the world. How much of what we do is really about Jesus. We bake a "birthday cake", set our our nativity and read Luke 1. But the rest of our time is spent busy with activities that are not done to honor our God.

This popular Christmas carol has been on my mind lately and one particular phrase has really stuck.

O Come, let us adore Him.

Adore. To Worship or honor as deity. To regard with loving admiration. Attitude of worship.

O Come, let us adore Him

This is worship. Something that only our God is worthy of.

You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

He is particular about how we worship also. Remember Cain & Abel? Who found favor with God? Abel did because he brought God the best he had, but Cain only brought some of his crop.

Jacob understood what God wanted. He wants our whole & complete hearts, not traditions or rituals. Genesis 35:2

We are to only serve & worship our God.

Even the evil spirits knew to bow down to him, but could not worship him.

Our worship is not about what we do for God. The Pharisees were really good at acting as though they worshipped God. They had great prayers and ceremonies that were meant as worship. But were they really? They had lot's of great festivals and celebrations that were meant to worship God, but did they accomplish that?

Mark 10:45 - For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Amos 5:21-24 explains about a time when God had run out of patience with his people. They were wicked at heart, but still enjoyed all of the festivals that were set in place to cause them to stop & worship. All of the celebrations were not done to worship God, they were only traditions & rituals.

21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.

22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, [a]
I will have no regard for them.

23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

When I read this passage, I couldn't help but see the similarities between what we do now in December and what they were doing then. I wondered, how much of what we do in December all in the name of celebrating Jesus birthday does God despise? How much does it bother him that we spend more time shopping for that perfect gift than we do preparing our hearts for worship? The more I have pondered this & prayed about it, I am convinced that He is grieved greatly. I feel as though he thinks that we have missed it.

I know that December 25th is not really the date of Christ birth. I know that the date actually stemmed from pagan holidays. I know that the Bible never specifically said that we are to remember his birth. I don't think that celebrating during this time is what grieves him. I think it is how we celebrate. Are we like the Israelites whose hearts had turned from God, but kept the traditions? I think so.

This is a time for us to worship him for sending His son to us. We can't even comprehend what that meant for Jesus to become a man. But if you will spend just a few moments in quiet meditation & open your heart, I think the Lord would love to give you a glimpse of what it meant.

Spend the next few days adoring your Savior. Spend time everyday with your children discussing what He has done for your family this year. Remind them that it isn't about what we have done, but what he has done for us. Worship is a response to a gracious God & it needs to be placed in this context if it is to be understood properly.

I love Mary's song that she sang after the angel had just rocked her world and told her that she would carry the Son of God.

46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

Not one of her words are about what she has done, but what her Jehovah Adonai had done for her & the faithful who had come before her. That is worship.

Our family is trying something new this year on Christmas Day in hopes to take the focus off of ourselves & put it on the Lord. We are exchanging gifts for each other on December 24th. On the 25th we will spend time together as a family in prayer and worship to our Lord Jesus together as a family. We will enjoy a big breakfast together as we remember how the Lord has provided for us over the past year. Late afternoon, we will pack up the van and head to my parents house for a few days to enjoy more time with family. I'm hoping that this will be something that we can continue to do for many years to follow.

Come & behold Him.

O come, let us adore Him

O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.

O come, let us adore Him

Christ the Lord.

Listen to; O Come All ye Faithful

Jesus_LO Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

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