Christmas is approaching. Calendars are filling up with parties and the to-dos of the season. Gifts are being bought as the radio serenades those shopping with tunes heralding the time. Family cook books are being cracked open once again, and the movies from one’s memory undergo another round of enjoyment. The busyness, the want to fulfill every tradition, the noise, and the feeling of needing to be in the spirit can feel overwhelming. Spiritual testing ensues, and we must focus, even in the holiday chaos, on Christ. For truly, He is what the season is about.
Psalm, a book known for its poetry and prose, includes many works written by different authors. Arguably the most widely read book, its chapters cover broad ranges of emotion and portray the deepness felt by its author. They meet readers in their unique situations, providing both comfort and guidance. In my search for keeping Christ at the center of my holiday experience, I was drawn to the words of three Psalms in particular: Psalm 117, Psalm 100:4, and Psalm 84:11-12. I believe that these three verses reflect three ways to remain focused on Him in the hustle and bustle of the season: praise Him, thank Him, and recognize that all good things come from Him.
“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.”
Psalm 117 (NIV)
Holidays are about joy, both creating it and experiencing it. There is great joy to be found in praise. This praise is not defined, nor limited. It comes from a place deep within and is a sensation. It’s a warmth that flows inside you and expresses itself beautifully in the abandonment of confinement, shaking off any chains and worshipping the Lord in reckless abandon. In thinking about this attitude of all-consuming praise, I remember the lyrics of a song, titled “I will be Undignified” by Rend Collective. The lyrics are:
“Everything on the altar now / I won’t hold back, I won’t hold out / I don’t care what the world may say / I’m abandoned to reckless praise / O my soul, will not bow to the fear / O I will not bow
And I will be undignified / And I will praise the Lord my God with all my might / And I will leave my pride behind / And I will praise the Lord my God with all my life
You are the joy the world can’t steal / You are the fire that burns through fear / I’ve got a soul that dances free / ‘Cause this love is true, this love is real / Your love is real”
Along with praising His name openly during the holidays, another way to commemorate the significance of the day is to thank Him. Though a verse that is more commonly used during the Thanksgiving holiday, as Christmas season descends upon us, it’s important to remember this command. Thanksgiving is a form of praise, continuing the theme of worship and adoration. Instead of making a list of to-dos, make a list of to-thanks. Instead of hanging lights and decorations, hang your head in prayer.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
Psalm 100:4 (NIV)
Another way to create a space for Christ in the holiday season is to recognize that all other distractions and all good things, specifically the joy and warmth of the season, come from Him. From the little things to the big things, all the blessings are bestowed upon us by Him. The tangible things, such as the gifts wrapped under the tree, and the invisible things, like being welcomed to a celebration, all come from Him and are examples of His love for us. Let us not turn a blind eye, but rather recognize this generosity.. Let us acknowledge what He gives us and the ways His blessings flow into our lives in a place of dethronement. It is not us or our works or our money or our efforts, but rather His hand in our holidays.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:11-12 (NIV)
With these verses in mind, I pray that you will have a joyful holiday. I pray that you will seek Him well, worship Him fearlessly, inwardly and outwardly, thank Him profusely, and recognize the good that He inspires our days with. Let us keep our gaze on Him and His heavenly courts, rather than trying to accomplish all we may want. Let us first turn to Him instead of the Christmas tree. Let us choose Him this season.
“Access Your Bible from Anywhere.” BibleGateway.com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 150 Versions and 50 Languages., https://www.biblegateway.com/.
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