At Christmastime, we talk and sing about a lot of things such as angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the census, Bethlehem, the stable, the star, gifts, presents, snow, children, family (breathe)…. and the baby. But I wonder sometimes if we are really grasping the point of Christmas.
I lead worship at my Church. As I began to message the team members about the songs that we would sing on Sunday, my own failure to remember the true meaning of worship struck me as I wrote to them, “Sometimes I can forget that God is a great King. I mean, if the president of the United States or the Queen of England was going to be at Cornerstone tomorrow, I think I would be a little bit more conscious of everything! I would want to get every little detail just right – – perfect, actually. I would probably also be feeling just a tad bit unworthy as well… and all that for a human being! Well, someone much greater than those people will be in our midst tomorrow. Let’s keep that in mind as we prepare for worship.”
In the Old Testament book of Malachi, we find a very interesting exchange between God and the priests in the temple who were charged with leading the people in worship. There were strict rules as to what God would find acceptable in the way the people would worship Him, but the main thing was to bring your very best offering to God. It didn’t have to be better than anyone else’s. It just had to be the best from what you personally had to give. And to remember to Whom you were giving your offering was super important as well. After all, it was an act of worship to the only true God.
But at this time, the people were offering their worst animal sacrifices: the blind, the lame, the leftovers and the throw-aways. God spoke through the prophet Malachi, rebuking the priests and the people saying, “‘And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:8)
God continued, “I am not pleased with you, ‘says the Lord of hosts,’ nor will I accept an offering from you.” (Malachi 1:10b) “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations…” (Malachi 1: 11a)
But wait, there’s more. The priests had also become lazy in their job. They yawned at the thought of fulfilling their honorable duty of leading the worship. They said, “Oh, how tiresome it is to serve God.” Wow. Just wow. Not so fun fact: there was a 400-year silence from God after the book of Malachi until He visited Zacharias, the priest in chapter one in the Gospel of Luke. I could be wrong, but I think the Lord was pretty angry with the whole situation.
Bringing this closer to home, I wonder if I’m not the only one who sometimes has trouble focusing on the true worship of God. Am I so busy serving Him (like Martha in the Bible) that I miss the point of the better choice of sitting in worship at the feet of Jesus (like Mary)? And Christmas, don’t even get me started about how hard it is to focus on the real point of Christmas. Even the story itself can distract us from the real reason for the season, which, in my opinion, is to wholeheartedly worship Jesus.
There is a song we sing at Church called, “The Heart of Worship.” It was written by a worship leader by the name of Matt Redman. It seems that the worship team and the people at his church had forgotten what, why, and Whom they were worshiping. The chorus goes like this: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it when it’s all about You, Jesus.” Some years ago, grappling with my own struggles of keeping it real at Christmas (Being a musician in this season can be the busiest, most stressful time of the year for us), I changed the first line to say, “I’m coming back to the heart of Christmas, and it’s all about You, Jesus.”
At this holy time, let’s try hard to be like the little drummer boy and give our very best to Jesus, even if we think it’s not very much. All God really wants is adoration from our hearts not just at Christmas, but every day.
I’m coming back to the heart of Christmas, and it’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it when it’s all about You, Jesus.
A merry Christ-Centered Christmas to you and yours!
An original Christmas song by Big D! “Gotta Have Christmas” https://youtu.be/GEssseBeQuM
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