For the last couple of years, I’ve used the following for all-age worship at Christmas and in assemblies at primary schools . . . based on three words which stand out to me from that very first Christmas

Wasted, Waiting and Wonder.

Feel free to use!

#1.  Wasted.  Herod had the opportunity to worship (Ok, so not right when Jesus was born, but not that long afterwards) he more or less had an invite from the Wise Men . . . they had assumed (as the King) he must know where this new King would be born.  He was so gripped by his need for power and his desire to hold on to it at all costs that he totally missed what was happening.  Jesus being born was bigger than Herod’s fear and the Kingdom he was to build had nothing to do with Herod’s earthly throne.

Herod though, wasted his chance.

When the Magi told him that the “King of the Jews” had been born and they must worship Him, Herod feigned help . . . with a plan to kill not worship the new born King.  The Magi were warned of Herod’s plan, and so were Mary and Joseph . . . as for Herod,

Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

Matthew 2:16

What about us?  We may not commit an atrocity like this, but what might keep us from worship of Jesus this Christmas.  We have such an opportunity to draw near.  Yes there is much that can (and will distract us), maybe Jesus and all He offers, the person He grew up to be, the God-Man who lived and died and rose again, the Saviour of the world – well, maybe that threatens us.  Maybe we have wasted our attention on other things, other people, other stuff – maybe what Jesus offers threatens who we think we are and what life is about.  We don’t want Jesus to be part of our Christmas – because we don’t want Jesus to be part of our lives at all.  His birth changed everything, His life changed everything, His death changed everything, His resurrection changed everything.  Maybe we want things to stay the same.

Don’t be a waster this Christmas.

#2.  Waiting.  Those Magi!  We have no idea how long they had waited before they set off on their journey, but – we do know it took them so long that they were not among the first to worship the new born King . . . they waited until they saw the signs, then they had to wait throughout their journey (are we there yet!) . . . and, it must have been pretty frustrating to get almost there and have to ask and wait for directions!

They did it though.  They persevered, they endured, they kept going.  We are nearly there now, it is almost Christmas, it is almost that time when we will celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the world!

They got there in the end and they gave their gifts,

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:12

What about us?  Are you waiting for something?  Maybe your tree doesn’t quite look perfect and you are waiting for that one gift that will make it look amazing!  Maybe you are waiting for others to arrive and your house will be full of laughter and fun, then you will be ready!  Maybe you are tired of waiting and have given up (after all, we have been waiting since late August . . . when the seasonal push towards Christmas began – a distinct lack of waiting there!).  I sometimes think that God asks me this question, “What are you waiting for?”  Christ HAS come.  I know, we are in the season of Advent, and we get ready to welcome Jesus, we do our preparations . . . but, in our hearts, in our lives even as we approach the magic day – there needs to be no more waiting!  Christ HAS come.  God IS with us.

Don’t wait around for something NEW to happen, something that will make this time MORE special than last year . . . the wait is over.  Christ HAS come.

#3.  Wonder.  There were those that first Christmas who had not a clue what was going to happen, they had not seen it in the stars, we have no idea whether they knew the scriptures foretelling of a baby to be born in Bethlehem.  These people were the unconsidered, those outside the usual crowd of people in the “know”.

They knew nothing.  Yet they were the first to be invited.   That in itself is wondrous.  They weren’t just told with a kind of whispered quiet kind of “knowing” in their hearts, you know the kind of thing . . . you think God might be saying something but you are not sure . . . nope, these guys were blown away by one of the most stunning spectacles to have ever been witnessed in the history of humankind.  They were not just told – Heaven itself came to earth to declare the birth!  The sky shone, they could barely look at the sight . . . and the sound, what MUST that have been like?!

The Shepherds,

there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them

Luke 2:8 – 9

Lowly, unimportant nobodies – whose witness was thought so unreliable, that they could not bear witness in a law court! It wasn’t permitted.

Yet here they were – the un-included – the first to be invited.  The first to bear witness to the most important arrival EVER.

How wondrous, how gobsmacking.

What about us?  Are we filled with wonder?  Or, are we cynical and fed up, “here we go again!”  How many Christmases have we lived through?  Are we too “grown up” for this?  Seriously!  The wonder of what took place that first Christmas should never leave us.

My own children are a regular reminder to me to look at the world with wondering eyes.  They see wonder everywhere!  Not just things they have never seen before (yes, I know the Shepherds had no choice but to wonder when faced with a sky full of Angels . . . ), but we should be living a life of wonder.  Think about it.

The Saviour of the world came and lived among us, he died and rose again – you and I can know a life we did not have and could not have before this happened . . . we were dead in our sin, and now we are alive!  More than that,

if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:11

The same power that brought the God-Man Jesus to earth, the same power that calmed the storm, the same power that raised Lazarus, gave sight to the blind, strengthened legs, gave hope and life to those who were outcast, broken, despised and rejected . . that same power is in us. God with us when Jesus was born becomes Christ in us with the resurrection and the age of the Spirit.

Wonder at that.

Wonder at being invited this Christmas into your part in God’s story – the “Good News” at that first Christmas was just the beginning (no, not the beginning – but the moment that all human history since the fall had been pointing to).  Wonder at what God has done.

Wonder at what He is doing.

Wonder at what He will do.

We have a choice as we approach Christmas – to waste it; keep waiting for something that has already happened, we can already enter in to, or wonder with those first Shepherds . . . and Worship the King of Kings.