By Karen Morerod, Kansas City, Kansas
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:23)
I noticed the sign at the bank teller's window: Last Christmas Club deposit for this year is October 6. Deposits for next year's Christmas Club begin October 20th. It was October 1st.
This seemed crazy! People start saving for next Christmas before they even have this Christmas? It's not that I'm against saving for Christmas. In fact, I highly recommend it. But thinking and planning for the next year when this season's gifts -- for the most part -- have not even been purchased, seemed foreign to my lifestyle. Why, even Thanksgiving was still seven weeks into the future!
My mind switched gears quickly as I walked out of the bank. I said to myself, "Oh, that we would prepare that efficiently for the spiritual side of Christmas."
That thought hit me hard. Yes, I do save year round for my financial needs of Christmas. However, that hardly prepares me for what usually happens the end of November and into December. Church and school events fill my calendar. To-do lists lengthen. Grocery lists become perpetual. Invitations to holiday parties sneak their way into the schedule. Stress rises. Exhaustion overtakes. And before I know it, it's December 26th and I wonder where I left God during this celebration for His Son.
I suspect this happens to many of us, and those who minister in worship are no different. After all, this is supposed to be a Christian holiday season, right? It's a prime time to draw people into worship. So we work hard to create worshipful times of commemoration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We set out to learn lines to dramas, practice new songs and invent another creative Christmas Eve service. But, do these things guarantee a Spirit-filled Christmas?
A couple years ago I tried to plan spiritually for Christmas. I prayed, "God, help me to get the true meaning of Christmas this year. Let me experience Christmas for what it really is."
I had prayed this for the past several Christmases, but this year it seemed as though all I heard around me -- and even from my own mouth -- was "get" and "me." Further, it seemed like God was saying, "Karen, why don't you ask what you can give?"
As I ponder on what to do and give for a God-honoring Christmas, it's hard. God doesn't need anything. He is sufficient in Himself. But, at Christmas time, as well as the rest of the year, God wants me. He wants my whole heart, and He wants to be first place.
But how does that happen? My first thought was to be more sensitive to the needs of others -- to think of what I could do for those truly in need. That was certainly scriptural and something I could improve on. However, even focusing on that could result in more "stuff to do," if not properly monitored.
For me then, it ultimately boiled down to that four letter word: time. If I was to give God all of me, that meant my schedule too. I needed to be extra cautious at this time of year when it's so tempting (and easy!) to get too busy. The only way I could do that was to give God all my time and ask Him to guide me. He would need to give me wisdom on what to be involved in, how I could simplify my calendar, and to continually remind me I need quiet times to focus solely on Him and the wonderful gift of His Son.
There are different ways to prepare for a God-honoring birthday of Jesus. But giving God my time in order to prepare spiritually will outweigh and outlast any material or financial preparations.
Thank You so much, God, for the gift of Your Son. We pray for wisdom to keep Him in His rightful place this Christmas season. Remind us often to seek You for a proper focus these next days. Show us how to glorify Jesus Christ in all that we do. Amen.
1. What's your biggest struggle during the Christmas season?
2. What would it look like for you to give a God-honoring birthday to Jesus this year?
3. How can we demonstrate and communicate to God's people a heart that says, "Come let us worship the Lord"?