Advent Reflection: Worshipping Jesus during Christmas

1371540_95553958On Sunday we looked at one last response to Jesus. We’ve already looked at how we wait for Jesus’ arrival, we are to respond with willingness when he shows up, and yesterday we saw how we are to respond with worship.

We looked at the story of the wisemen or the magi. In it they do something remarkable. They actually fall at Jesus’ feet and worship him when they find him. This is quite amazing because these are professional men, these are wealthy men, these are probably powerful men. And their response to a little boy in a hovel of a town, in the shadow of Herod’s third largest temple, fall on their face in adoration.

This is the response that we are to have towards Jesus Christ when we enter into his presence. We are to adore him. The magi do not fall at the feet of Jesus because of what he has done for them. They do not fall at his feet out of gratitude, because Jesus hasn’t done anything for them at all. They fall at his feet because of who he is. And this is a central part of worship. We need to worship Jesus not just for the good things he does for us, but we need to worship him for who he is.

Because he is King.

Because he is Good.

Because he is the Messiah.

Because he is God.

So we landed on one question from this story. When was the last time you worshipped Jesus like the wisemen did? When was the last time you entered into Jesus’ presence, fell at his feet and really worshipped him?

I think this is an important question because Christmas is to be about Jesus. And if we want to put Jesus at the centre it means to focus on him and worship him. I know when I asked that question, that for me, it’s been too long since I’ve just worshipped Jesus.

So we left with this challenge for this week: Christmas will soon be here, so find time to worship Jesus fully this week. Carve out time to worship him. For you that might be painting, walking, praying, singing, dancing, sitting silently, writing or whatever else. The point isn’t how you worship Jesus, but an invitation to actually do it. So Christmas is here in a few days so why not take up that challenge. If we truly want to bring Christ back into Christmas I think it begins with bringing him back in our lives with a focus on worshipping and adoring him. Because he does deserve it.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We need to worship Jesus fully

Take Aways…

  • Advent should be a season of worship
  • They “Fell down before him and worshipped him”
  • To be prostrate is to be in a position of submission
  • The magi fall at Jesus’ feet out of adoration
  • Adoration differs from other forms of worship such as supplication (asking for things), confession of sins, and offering thanks, inasmuch as it consists in devout recognition of God’s transcendent excellence – Catholic Encylcopedia
  • We need to worship Jesus fully
  • Our response to Jesus in this season, needs to be to worship him fully.
  • When was the last time you came into Jesus’ presence and fell at his feet like the Wisemen?

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Think through this advent season and simply reflect on where your focus has been. Has it been on Jesus or other things? How can you shift your focus to Jesus this week? When was the last time you worshipped Jesus like the wisemen? How might you worship Jesus fully this week? What activities or practices draw you closer to him? Set aside some time this week to spend with Jesus.

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk to your kids about the real reason about Christmas – how it’s about Jesus. Talk to them that its about worshipping him. Ask them how they might want to do that. Maybe they want to dance, maybe they want to give some of their toys to others, maybe they want to draw a picture and talk with Jesus. Whatever it may be why not actually do it with them.

Challenge for this Week Worship: Jesus fully this week

Chasing Stars to Jesus

On Sunday we looked at an odd story of Magi, stargazing, and finding Jesus. What we saw in Matthew 2 is a beautiful story of sacrifice, searching, and stargazing. We see Magi who have been diligently searching the Scriptures because they knew of the prophecy about the birth of the Messiah. We see them willing to sacrifice and travel over 700 miles to Jerusalem to welcome and worship the new king. We see them suffer through heartbreak and difficulty as they finally reach their destination to discover there is no king in Jerusalem. And worse than that, it seems like Israel as a nation isn’t even looking. Doubt and dejection becomes a temptation. But they press on, they keep following the star, wondering and hoping that it will lead them to the one they have set out months and months ago to find. And finally after miles and miles of travel, after cold nights, endless sacrifices, threats, and rough journeys they arrive to find Jesus. They find him. And I think this is a beautiful story about how to find Jesus.

I love this story because amidst all the heartbreak, set-backs, and sacrifices they get to meet with God. Even though at times they were looking for Jesus in the wrong places, and maybe not in the right way, God still guides them to him. What matters to Jesus is the heart that is searching for him and these magi have a heart that demonstrates sacrifice, perseverance, and audacious hope. I love this because this story reminds me to never give up searching for Jesus.

Maybe you know what it is like to search for God and feel disappointed. Maybe you know what it is like to give up and leave behind your context to find this King,only to become confused and unsure. Maybe you know what it is to search but still haven’t found Jesus.

Well, I think this story teaches us something profound: don’t give up. Keep going. Keep believing. Even if doubt tempts you to give up, hold onto hope that Jesus could be over the next hill. Because the magi hold onto to hope in face of difficult circumstances, and eventually they go over the next hill and discover Jesus. And so what I want to leave with you today is this…Jesus could be just over the hill…so if you are searching, don’t give up

Because the God that you’re searching for…is searching for you too…

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: Your heart matters most in finding God

Take Aways…

  • What matters most in a gift is the motive and meaning behind it
  • What matters most to God isn’t looking for him in the right way, or the right place. What matters is the heart that is looking for him
  • Is your heart ready and willing to follow, sacrifice, and celebrate to find Jesus
  • Don’t ever, don’t ever, don’t ever give up searching for Jesus.
  • Focus on getting your heart right and never give up looking for the God who wants to be found

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you in the sermon? What was new? What was different? When have you been given a gift with a “great motive”? What was the best gift you’ve ever received? Think about your motives. Are you searching for God? Are you willing to sacrifice for him? How might you sacrifice to find him this Christmas?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take time to talk with your kids about what matters in giving and receiving. Tell them that the heart behind it is what matters most. Talk to them about Jesus and how that’s what matters most with him too.

Challenge for this Week

Examine your heart your searching for Jesus with, and ask what you might need to sacrifice to find Jesus…

Finding God in the Stars?

On Sunday we are going to be looking at a really odd story found in the Bible. It’s one where God uses a star to direct people to his Son. It’s odd because the story is really about how to find God, but generally we never say to someone searching…”Well look up at the stars”. So on Sunday we’ll find out what this story can teach us about finding God. Because I think in our lives we want to find Jesus, we want to have a deep vibrant relationship with him, we want the full life he talks about. And to find the full life Jesus talks about, means finding him.

So the question I have for you is this: how do you find Jesus? Are you looking for him in your life and all around you? I think it’s a question worth pursuing.

So how have you found him in your life? What did it take? What helped? What was tough? Because what has been my experience is this. God isn’t hiding, but I’m not very good at looking. I give up too fast, I give in to doubt and dejection too quickly, and I forget that my God is looking for me too. But what I’ve learned is that finding God is the most important discovery of my life. So on Sunday we’ll talk about how this Christmas we might all make the same discovery…and we’ll discover it has a lot to do with stars and sacrifices…