I shifted on one boot and glanced sideways at my three, wriggling boys.
They grinned and waved from the lobby of our tiny post office, anxiously waiting for me to finish mailing my packages.
“This won’t take long,” I had said as we climbed out of our SUV fifteen minutes earlier. “Just wait in the lobby while I drop these boxes off.”
Famous last words.
As I pulled my eyes away from my boys, the conversation taking place in front of me came into focus.
The guy in line in front of me- I’m pretty sure he had at least ten packages to mail- had just asked the clerk about her plans for Christmas.
For the next five minutes, she simultaneously scanned packages and expounded upon the many reasons she dreaded the holidays.
“I get one day off, and that just makes the next day twice as busy,” she stated matter-of-factly. “December twenty-sixth, it’s right back to work-as-usual.”
“The older I get, the more I lose the Christmas spirit, you know?”
I shifted my boxes and involuntarily sighed with her.
For a split second, my inner pessimist was ready to concede that, yes, it’s tough to keep the “Christmas spirit” alive when you’re busy adulting.
But something deep in my heart wouldn’t submit to that thought.
If I believed that the “Christmas spirit” was nothing more than the magical, carefree, and seemingly perfect holidays of my childhood then, yes.
I would say that keeping the “Christmas spirit” as an adult is an exercise in futility.
But I don’t believe that.
As much as I love everything magical and carefree about Christmas, I’d feel deeply disappointed if that’s all I had to hold on to in this season of life.
Because, really, there’s not a lot of “carefree” or “perfect” left in the fabric of my life as a busy wife and mom.
Honestly, my soul craves something deeper than that.
At the risk of over-spiritualizing the holidays, I must confess:
This year, more than ever before, I’ve been realizing that Christmas really is all about worship.
I know, I know.
You’ve probably never even considered adding “worship” to your holiday schedule.
And neither have I.
But the more deeply I ponder this, the less I expect Christmas to be carefree or magical or perfect.
Because the more I began to grasp that even on the crazy days-
the ones that feel anything but carefree, magical or perfect-
even on THOSE days we can choose to worship.
And, yes, worship is so much more than lifting your hands at church or whispering a prayer.
Worship is simply the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration.
It is recognizing the worthiness of Christ and relishing the wonder of who He is:
Christ, the almighty King of Kings, who broke into our hopeless world on a mission to provide unthinkable grace and favor with God.
So how can we live with a heart of worship at this busy season?
Let me share three really simple and practical ways to keep worship at the heart of your Christmas (and throughout every day of the year).
This isn’t rocket science.
But it could very well take your heart from a state of overwhelm to wonder.
Take Time to Acknowledge Him
It’s easy to take a look at our secularized culture and curse the way the world has squeezed Christ right out of Christmas.
But let’s be honest.
As believers we often do the same thing, just in a different way.
How many times have you been all about the form of Christmas (plays, programs, to do lists) and feel very little of the heart of this season (patience, gentleness, peace)?
There’s nothing really second nature about this business of worship, especially in a world that idolizes productivity and busyness.
Like the stressed-out clerk in the post office this morning, it’s very easy and very natural for us all to feel like we’ve out-lived the wonder of what turned out to be the busiest season of the year.
So we must choose to live intentionally against the grain.
Against the grain of our culture.
Against the grain of our humanity.
Lord, it’s true: life is so busy right now, and I’m so tired. But, thankfully, this season isn’t actually about perfection or festivities. It’s about You, and I choose to celebrate You. You are good and you are gracious. Thank you for loving me!
Worship is simply taking the time to adore Christ.
To notice His presence and his fingerprints in every little detail of our day and our world.
The very act of saying, “Lord, this really is all about You” reveals a heart of worship.
Stay Faithful in Both Your Work and Rest
I believe that faithfulness is an oft-overlooked aspect of worship.
It’s so easy to forget this when we’re bone weary from the emotional, mental, spiritual or physical load of our responsibilities.
But faithfulness matters.
Showing up at work another day, and doing your best. That matters.
Climbing out of bed in the morning to serve and love your family well. That matters too.
Facing an increased work load with determination, then giving yourself permission to unwind at the end of another busy day. God sees it, and it honors his design for your life.
Managing your time, or your family’s time, well at the holidays so that there’s at least a little margin for down time or hitting pause. Did you realize that is also an act of worship?
Working hard honors God, so don’t forget to acknowledge that the next time you feel overwhelmed by the task in front of you.
Keeping a habit of rest also honors God, so give yourself permission to embrace His gift of Sabbath.
This is probably the easiest part of Christmas to relate to.
In theory, any way.
After all, Christmas is love.
Donating to a toy drive, or dropping your extra change into the red Salvation Army bucket.
But do you know what?
I find myself struggling with this more than I care to admit.
Yes, I’m all about buying gifts for the children’s home our church sponsors.
But I have a hard time being patient with my kids’ messes and needs right now.
I took the time to write personal notes in over one hundred Christmas cards last week.
But I don’t get excited about giving up some of my personal time if someone needs another piece of my already-full day.
Do you see how easy it is to fall into the grind of doing well, when really God is calling us to a life of loving well?
What other season could possibly be more about loving well than this holy season of Christmas?
When Christ stepped into our brokenness, clothed himself with our rags of humanity, and declared that we were worth-
not just dying for-
but living with.
Did you ever think about that?
Christmas chose to live among us.
He didn’t just lay down his life for us and suffer a cruel death.
He gave us a lifetime.
He showed us what love looks like, how it lives.
Understanding that overwhelms me.
It paints a backdrop for my life that changes the way I view everything:
From demanding to do lists, to needy kids and messy bedrooms, to broken people that I sometimes pull away from because I can’t fix them.
He loved generously so that we would know what it feels like to receive so much more than we deserve.
Then we can live, love and give from a source much deeper than our limited humanity.
This is the worshipful heart of Christmas.
May it beat deeply in your soul this season.
Here’s to living and loving well-