Like how every birthday comes as if it were just yesterday, Christmas is here again. You are probably thinking about going to Divisoria or Baclaran to buy gifts for your friends or maybe wondering who got your name in your class exchange gift. Some are worrying about holiday presentations and getting forehead creases out of it. Others may be planning to go to their provinces to spend the year-end vacation with their relatives. And in the midst of all this rush, people are constantly reminded of the real essence of Christmas, thanks to the efforts of the church and the ever available reminders on the internet.
It is always heartwarming to think of the true meaning of this holiday. It is the Lord Jesus Christ’s birthday. The great God who created the universe loved His highest creation so much that He lowered Himself and became a little baby boy – a human. The blood of the innocent spilled at the cross for the guilty. The Worthy came for the unworthy. With this, we can ask ourselves: Have we put this truth in our hearts and felt the spirit of gratitude and worship? Have we taken this truth seriously? If we have, then we won’t allow the ‘holiday worries’ to take over the profound truth that the Savior had been borne. We won’t focus on the material things that mark the holidays because we are focused on Jesus Christ as the center of the whole celebration.
This thought brings me to an event last year when I became a musician in our church with the Lord’s grace. I honestly could not do ‘nice’ music back then. I could not recognize chords and notes by ear. I definitely could not play something cool without practicing it for straight five hours. I found it difficult to pick up ideas fast. It was just a bunch of I can’ts. That is why when they said the music team will be hosting the Christmas Cantata, I got frightened. Anyhow, I did my best with this in focus: If I carry this out well, in the end, they’ll be proud of me. I will definitely get better technically. And I want to help them. The line-up is so hard, maybe they could make use of my tiny contribution. I have friends I can ask anyway.
That focus really pulled me down. It missed the whole sense of the event. In summary, I stumbled, technically, and worse, spiritually. It started when I never understood the structure of the songs. They all sounded as one and I really could not get anything from listening. With that, studying the line-up took so much of my time considering I was also a student and daughter at the same time. I sometimes bungled rehearsals because I just could not do my part. I prioritized academics less. I became impatient and ill-tempered. I missed doing devotions and I literally forgot to give time for the Lord. It was a chain reaction that started with merely studying the Cantata line-up. Nobody would have guessed all these since I kept things to myself.
Of course people said things like ‘you can do it’ and ‘I believe in you’ but they were never enough. I just found myself in front of the piano trying to find out why and for whom I was doing all these. It felt so meaningless. Then I remembered this: I am nothing and I cannot do anything without the strength that only comes from the Lord. So I prayed. But things remained the same. Then I prayed again. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I trusted and I asked for understanding. But I still felt empty. Something was really missing. Then the Lord reminded me that we speak and act as men approved by God, entrusted by the Gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts (1 Thes. 2:4). Now that hit me hard. Then I was reminded by our main purpose as the Lord’s creation, to declare His glory among the nations (1Chron. 16:24). And finally, a very important detail I was reminded of – the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. God made my heart right with Him. Everything went well after that. It is not the people or our leaders or even ourselves that we are serving but the Lord. He sees through our hearts and sees if it is a heart of worship or just a heart serving its own.
Focusing on the meaning behind things is important especially with our service to God. Like centering on the meaning of our service to the Lord, let us focus on the real essence of Christmas. Let us be the people who cherish the sacrifice of our great Savior and who show much gratitude for what He has done by living up to its meaning and by being the Lord’s vessel of blessings.
Spread love this Christmas!
Louise Ann Calairo