I want to have a Christmas that is a success in God’s economy. So I take my wish list of “must have’s” and “do this every year’s” and I give them up to the Baby who gave Himself up to come down. Christmas in the eyes of our King is a season of worship. True worship leads away from our usual, familiar, and comfortable place. True worship requires a journey.
Christmas lovers have been trained to hum promises like “I’ll be home for Christmas” and “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” So much of what we love about the season centers around the hub of home like a tree arising out of a colorful skirt beneath. Isn’t “home” the epi-center of a satisfying season, and isn’t it at the core of the Christmas we want to give our loved ones? After all, many of us pull out red plastic tubs full of paraphernalia to deck our halls. At the risk of being stoned, I’ve found that the real Christmas story is more about leaving than coming home. Those who worshiped the infant-God were all away from home, sojourning, and strangers.
What would happen if we let go of home as the center of our holiday hearts?
The ideal Christmas comes with a lot of expectations about “home,” but worship requires a journey away. To make this is season of worship, we have to let go of home. Whether we sojourn with our feet or simply in our hearts, leaving home prepares us go to Jesus.
Mary and Joseph were forced to travel to comply with government demands. The shepherds were out in the hills working, away from warm beds and hearths at home. The wise men traveled from a great distance to bring gifts of adoration and value. Everyone who came to love Emmanuel had to let go of their home.
Home is not a bad thing. It’s a beautiful thing bringing God glory when reflecting His character and producing the fruit of His Spirit in its inhabitants. But we tend to idolize good things. Home is no different. We’re tempted to worship home, especially at Christmas.
When Jesus left His home in heaven to make His home with us, the innkeeper spent the first Christmas tending to house and home. Because of his preoccupation with preparations at home, he missed out on worship of the Prince of Peace.
Jeff and I spend a lot of time loving on missionaries and partners who have left their homes to be strangers in distant places. Do you remember them? Do you pray for them? This year we left our earthly “home” to be planted as strangers in a new land, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20). When we remove things that make us comfortable, we cling to Christ in ways we never had to before. From our friends around the world and from my own life, I can say worship does not hinge on having or being in an earthly home. Like the first Christmas, we may be more available and attentive to bow before our King when “home” is out of the way.
“A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night, O holy night, O night divine!” ~ O Holy Night by J. Dwight
Whether you are at home or a stranger in a new land, may your Christmas be filled with WORSHIP of the Son of God who left His heavenly home for us.