“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:10-11). Just as the wise men worshipped Jesus and gave their treasures to Him we need to give Him our treasures and capacities as a gift of worship.
Worship is a central part of our Christmas celebration. We are told that after the shepherds came into Bethlehem and saw the infant Jesus, they returned to their flocks “glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them” (Luke 2:20). From marveling at the many prophecies fulfilled at Jesus’ birth to being in awe at the incarnation (God taking on human flesh), we have more reasons than ever to glorify and praise God.
We serve a praying God. Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus, the Son, intercede on behalf of believers. God, himself, views prayer as supremely important. This Christmas, let’s give the valuable gift of prayer, interceding on behalf of our family and friends.
After 30+ years of pastoral ministry, I can testify that the holiday season can be especially stressful for those in Church leadership. They are working hard to create special events for others to attend and they are always “on-call”. Let’s take a few moments to pray for our Church leaders and ask God to refresh and renew them this Christmas.
One of the most beautiful passages of scripture in all the Bible is Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). It is a spontaneous expression of praise from Mary’s heart in response to the wondrous things that God is doing in and through her. Mary reminds us that Christmas is all about worship.
The Christmas story is filled with messages of honor and hope. For example, the birth of Jesus was first announced by angelic messengers to shepherds. These working class laborers would not have been on anyones list for such a remarkable announcement. From an insignificant town for Jesus’ birth to a humble adolescent girl to be his mother, God constantly encourages us with unexpected honor and blessing.
The interaction between Mary and her close relative, Elizabeth, is amazing! Elizabeth says, “Behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:44). So close was the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist, that even in separate wombs they influenced each other.
Joseph initially struggled to believe that Mary had been faithful to him. An angel spoke to him, assuring him of God’s miraculous hand in the unfolding events. Like Joseph, we can struggle to see what God is accomplishing in our lives through difficult circumstances. Let’s invite God to enlarge our capacity to trust what He is doing in our lives today.
In Luke 2 we find the Angelic announcement to Mary of God’s plan for her future. She would be the human vessel through which God would put on human flesh in order to provide salvation for mankind. Read Luke 2 with a sense of awe and wonder.
We frequently forget that there is a very dark side to the Christmas story. King Herod ordered the slaughter of every male child, two years old and younger throughout Bethlehem. Satan’s appetite to steal, kill, and destroy continues today and his target are those we love. We need to recognize the spiritual warfare taking place around us and resist the enemy.