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What Jesus wants for Christmas


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Christmas and gifts. The two have always been associated with each other for good reason.

The Magi gave Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The shepherds gave Jesus the gift of their time and their belief. Mary gave Jesus the gift of her womb. The offers seem practical. The treasures of the sages could be used to fund the family’s flight to Egypt. The visit of the shepherds would keep the family company. Mary’s womb would protect the growing child.

But there is one gift that may seem a bit curious. The gift of worship from angels.

Seven-year-old angel visiting a reconstructed Nativity scene.

Suddenly the angel was joined by a vast crowd of others – the armies of heaven – praising God:

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“Glory to God in the highest,” they sang, “and on earth peace to all who please him.”

When this great host of angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Come! Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:13-15 tlb)

The angels filled the night with light and the air with music, and well, that was it. They loved it. Couldn’t they have done something more useful? Mary could have used a bed. Joseph would have enjoyed an angelic escort to Nazareth. Baby Jesus needed a cradle.

Church members carry their baby as they walk to the manger as Joseph and Mary outside the Church of Jesus Christ in Fountain Valley, California, December 10, 2015.

Church members carry their baby as they walk to the manger as Joseph and Mary outside the Church of Jesus Christ in Fountain Valley, California, December 10, 2015.
(Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

They were angels. Didn’t they know better?

Again, they were angels. Who knew Jesus better than them? Those who knew Jesus best loved him the most. Those who followed him the longest donated worship to him. They placed their love on a pillow of praise and presented it to Jesus. They did that night. They still do. Heaven right now is ringing with great corporate worship. “Day and night they keep saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy'” (Rev. 4:8).

Worship happens every time you turn your heart to heaven and say, “You are worthy. When you clear your calendar for prayer, turn the dial on the radio to praise the music, or use your morning jog to recite Bible verses or your lunch break to meditate, that’s worship.

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The worship takes place in the quarters, in the living rooms, in the open pastures. And, yes, worship happens in churches. When God’s people make a public and plural declaration of God’s goodness, worship takes place.

You may be wondering, But what if I don’t love it?

The worship takes place in the quarters, in the living rooms, in the open pastures.  And, yes, worship happens in churches.

The worship takes place in the quarters, in the living rooms, in the open pastures. And, yes, worship happens in churches.
(Stock)

Oh, but you will. The question is not, will you worship, but where will you direct your worship? We all worship someone or something. Why, I once loved a bike!

At the age of 8, I asked my parents to give me a bicycle for Christmas. Not just any bike, but a fire engine red Schwinn bike with a banana seat and high handlebars. They did it ! Basking in the light of the Christmas tree, he motioned for me to come aboard and ride off into the bliss of childhood.

I loved the bike. I adored the bike.

But then I destroyed it. I hit a curb and bent the frame. My dad and I tried to fix it, but the bike was never the same again. It let me down. I counted on her to carry me, deliver me, entertain me, fulfill me. This was not the case.

And you? You were counting on this career to carry you, deliver you, entertain you and fulfill you. But this is not the case.

You were counting on this marriage to carry you, deliver you, entertain you and fulfill you. But that was not the case.

You were counting on this retreat to carry you, deliver you, entertain you and fill you. But this is not the case.

You counted on this education to carry you, deliver you, entertain you and fill you. But that was not the case.

You counted on this body to carry you, deliver you, entertain you and fulfill you. But this is not the case.

Veneration may not be the word you used to describe your passion, but the term fits. Whenever we trust an object or activity to give us life and meaning, we worship it.

A nativity scene is displayed in Wadena, Minnesota on Dec. 10, 2015. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

A nativity scene is displayed in Wadena, Minnesota on Dec. 10, 2015. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

When we make good things the ultimate, we open ourselves up to disappointment.

God is looking for those who will imitate the angels, people who will open their hearts and mouths and declare, “Glory to God in the highest.” “The Father… actively seeks such people to worship him” (John 4:23 ncv).

Worship does to the soul what a spring rain does to a thirsty field. It permeates, infiltrates and agitates life.

Are you stressed? Worship God, who could store the universe in his pocket and the oceans in a pipette.

The Adoration of the Shepherds

The Adoration of the Shepherds
(Stock)

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Are you ashamed? Worship Jesus, whose love never fades.

Are you in mourning? Open your heart to your Shepherd. He will lead you through the valley of pain.

Do you feel small? A few moments before the throne of your loving King will evaporate any sense of insignificance.

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Worship works wonders.

Give Jesus the gift the angels gave him, the gift of praise. Put on the robe of grace, soar on the wings of faith, and take your place in the celestial choir and sing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven”.

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