December! The Christmas season, one of the times we collectively reflect and lift our hearts in worship, can often be sapped of its joy by busyness, stress, and “all the things”. Though many of us long for simpler holidays, the reality of community and family commitments can still leave us feeling stretched. On those days, it’s more likely we’ll identify with Martha than Mary.
How can I worship when I don’t feel very joyful?
One way I can re-center myself for worship during the sometimes-stressful season, is to study and meditate on the nativity. Growing up, we had a carved, wooden nativity set. The wood must have been scented with frankincense because I can still remember its aroma as we unpacked it from the attic each year. I loved the feel of the rough animals as I arranged and rearranged the figures. It was a plain set, with three groups of worshipers:
…were overcome by grace in their boring, everyday, routine. Settling down for the night, on their guard for predators, they were illuminated by glory. The miracle found them in the darkness, and changed their plans. When I think of the shepherds, I think of how the Lord meets me where I am: in the middle of my to-do list, in the inconveniences of life, in the mundane. Like those faithful caretakers, I want to see His glory and change my plans to seek Him out.
…fascinate me. Veiled in mystery, tinged with alchemy, they walked through the territory where faith and science overlap. Captivated by what they could see and study, they set out on a journey to find the unknown. These pilgrims literally stepped out in faith, putting their reputations, wealth, and beliefs on the line. When I think of the Magi, I’m reminded that the Creator is the only One with the answers to all my questions. He inspires my own creativity, and I want to worship Him with my work.
…emblazoned their worship across the skies. By telling of His powerful plan for redemption, I get to be a part of an intricate and all-encompassing design, too. Its goal? Love and family and completeness. The rightness of His plan is humbling and inspires awe and worship. When I think of the angels, I am emboldened and filled with love and passion. With them, I want to proclaim God’s powerful goodness to anyone who’s hungry to hear it.
Like the widow’s mite, sometimes our small worship is the most powerful gesture of love we can offer.
No matter what my feelings tell me, God’s power, love, and grace are constant. If I focus on his mercy and faithfulness and awesome creative power, gratitude wells up within me, followed naturally by adoration – worship. When I study the nativity, I’m reminded of what the song says, “O, come, let us adore Him!”
During the Christmas season, even when you feel sad or overwhelmed, what are some ways you re-center yourself to worship the King of Kings?