I have the reputation of being a bit of a curmudgeon around our house as Christmas approaches. It is not that I do not like Christmas, but rather that I do not see the connection between most of what we do to celebrate the season and what the celebration is supposed to be about. To be sure, I do think the lights are pretty in our neighborhoods. I do enjoy the smell of the tree when I walk in the door at the end of the day. I love the closeness of family and the effort that goes into making that happen. All that being said, I think Christmas, for most of us in the western world, has become something far removed from celebrating the birth of Jesus or anticipating His return. To be clear, it is not the intent of the rest of this article to bemoan the commercialization of Christmas, but rather I hope to offer something to think about to help us focus just a bit more on what the season is about. The theme for this year’s Christmas newsletter is “O come let us adore Him,” and I want to focus on this for the rest of this short article.
The Meaning of Adoration
What does it mean to adore somebody? For me, that used to bring up a picture of standing around looking fondly or lovingly at a tiny baby and saying the equivalent of “Isn’t he just adorable?” For others, it means that you either love somebody or you are inordinately fond of them, as in “I just adore him.”
This is what the first entry in the dictionary says it means: “to love and respect (someone) deeply,” which seems to be the meaning most of our culture adopts. When I took some time to look into the word, that picture is far removed from its contextual meaning. In this context, the word means worship – in other words, O come let us worship Him.
In our culture, worship is too often used as a noun or an adjective (e.g., I am going to the worship service, or worship was really wonderful today). However, in Scripture it is used primarily as a verb. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word qārab meant bringing forward a gift or offering – much like the wise men did. Hāwâ means bowing down in reverence before God (or somebody in power). Rûm indicates exaltation or verbal praise of God—like the angels who met the shepherds in the fields. The New Testament uses proskyneō (to bow down), kamptō (bending the knee), doxazō (giving glory to God), and eulegeō (praising or blessing God) to communicate the same ideas. The main point here is that these all are active verbs—you are doing something to worship or adore God. This begs the question, what are some things we could do to “adore him” during this Christmas season?
How We Can Worship/Adore Him
First of all, and this might seem counter-intuitive to some, slow down. I find it is impossible to worship/adore God when I am so busy I cannot see straight. I have put this first because I think it is essential preparation for what follows. Realize that if you slow down, you might not be able to make everything you want to accomplish happen, and that is ok. Take some time away from all the busy preparations, parties, and other traditions your family might have and spend some time in God’s presence every day. Use this time to consider how amazing the incarnation is, to pray, to read Scripture, to enjoy being quiet in His presence, etc. Consider the part of advent that is so frequently left out—the hope of Christ’s return. Consider how amazing it is that Jesus has called us friends. Spend time listening to what the Spirit may have to say to your heart.
Second, spend some time praising God. This is a good time to start reviewing your year and see what God has done in and through you. Spend time giving thanks for all He has done. Almost every church I know of has some extra services during the Christmas season. Go to some of them. Join with others praising God for who He is and what He has done. Find ways to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation in your family’s daily activities. Consider how amazing it is that the one and only Son of God became a helpless baby. The One through whom the universe was created became fully human and was born in Bethlehem in Roman occupied Israel. This still boggles my mind whenever I think of it.
Third, give of your time and finances. I know our calendars and budgets are usually stretched with all the preparations for celebrating Christmas, but take a bit of time to find ways to give of your time and finances to others. Volunteer at the local food bank, with Love INC, or some other organization in your community. Spend some time serving/helping others.
Those are my three suggestions. I have found that they help me to keep my focus on what Christmas is supposed to be about and off what our culture has made it. They have helped me to worship/adore Him.
Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!