Are You Still Putting Jesus in the Manger?

Let's be honest. We worship the Christmas season more than Jesus himself. We talk about getting into the Christmas spirit which I take to mean that there are traditions we invest in to create a certain warmth of heart. We are looking to recreate a particular feeling that comes with the activities of Christmas—hanging lights, buying a tree, buying presents, listening to Christmas music, baking cookies, listening to Christmas music, etc. Americans are expected to spend one-trillion dollars to capture the Christmas spirit or at least get some new stuff.

The origin of the word worship is from old English and combines "worth" and "ship." One way to look at worship is to see it as ascribing worth to someone or something—we all worship. We all attribute worth to someone or something, it may or may not be God. We invest time and money in the things we adore most. When we spend a lot of time, energy and money in the Christmas season, we are worshipping Christmas.

Advent is not about worshipping a season but, instead, worshipping a person. Advent is the Latin word for the Greek word "parousia." This Greek word can mean "presence" or "presence after an absence." It refers to the first and second coming of Christ. The ancient church thought of three distinct advents. The first advent was in the flesh at the birth of Christ. The second was in the heart of a person who accepts Christ, and the third is when Christ will come again in glory at the last days.

When we worship during Advent, we are celebrating and anticipating all three arrivals of God's presence in Christ. Worship is about what is in our hearts. Advent reminds us to make room in our lives for Jesus to be born in us. We sing in the well-known hymn Joy to the World, "Let every heart prepare him room."

What we worship reflects what is ultimately in our hearts. If we are worshipping the season of Christmas rather than the person of Christ will know by the amount of room we make in our lives for each. Evaluate how much time, energy and money you spend on the Christmas season in comparison to the time, energy and money worshipping the Savior. Which has more room in your life?

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