My wife Marla teaches at a local Christian School and every year at this time, staff members gather together all the coats, sweaters, shoes, shirts and hats from lost and found. The small mountain of goods belies the world of cavalier materialism that has been created unintentionally. Throughout the course of the year, children toss their shoes, backpacks and clothes in corners, leave them on the playground or just simply forget them somewhere. Familiarity breeds a kind of material contempt. It is readily apparent that the things they have are not highly valued or treasured. It is also apparent that thankfulness is in short supply. Things can be replaced and there is always more…
This is not only true in the material world, but also in the spiritual world. Those things that we have at hand and experience daily are often taken for granted. In some very subtle way we experience a kind of contemptuous disregard. The two things that come to my mind are Jesus Christ and His grace.
Many of us have known Christ for years and unintentionally take our relationships with Him for granted. We have become jaded and presumptive. Jesus, in some way, has become like the old shoe tossed in the corner. Similarly His grace, experienced every day, becomes something we assume and take for granted. Our familiarity with forgiveness slowly eats away at our thankfulness.
Christmas is a time to renew our thankfulness for Jesus Christ and His loving grace
One way to do that is through worship. In the narratives of Jesus’ birth, we read of the shepherds and wise men coming to worship with the Christ child. Following in their steps, we can kneel before the LORD and recount to Him who He is and all that He has done, and continues to do, in our lives. This posture of worship renews our hearts of thankfulness.
I was recently at my wife’s school to lead a chapel. Before I taught, there was a time of worship. The classes were lined up from youngest to oldest. In the back, the fifth graders appeared disinterested. Moving my eye down the rows, I noticed that the interest in worship increased, as the grade levels decreased. Just at that moment, the kids sang the chorus:
Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God…
At the front of the group, the pre-kindergarten class was belting it out. With their hands raised to heaven, the volume, enthusiasm and spirit of the youngest students moved me to tears. It was a pure, uncomplicated and beautiful example of thankfulness in worship. I was reminded that as children grow older, things get more complicated, a sense of jadedness sets in and thankfulness wains.
This Christmas, try kneeling before the King and tell Him, “You’re altogether worthy, altogether lovely,” and embrace a new spirit of thankfulness.
In His Steps,
Daniel C. Watts