The Worship of Submission

We're talking about worshipping fully this Christmas.  Of all the things the manger inspires, worship tops the list.  I mean, the fact that God came to me... revealed Himself to me... announced it to me...  became flesh like me... made His dwelling place with me...  It is incredible (in the literal definition of the word)!  And yet it is the central truth of Christianity.  He did!

An authentic trip to manger makes consumer products so trivial, twinkling lights so dim, festive trees so uninspiring.  An authentic trip to the manger makes worship what Christmas is all about.

I like Mary's expression of worship.  This past Sunday we talked about Mary's worship along with the worship of Joseph and of the magi.  And all week long I have been pondering the incredible example that Mary give us.  Mary's worship came primarily in the form of submission.

Luke 1:38 - Mary says, "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said."

Submission to God's will.  God's will would cost her dearly.  It would taint the girlhood dreams of marriage for her.  It would mark her for all of her life as the subject of the local gossip.  It would put her in danger of the death penalty...  There is no way that God's will looked good to Mary at the time she heard it.  In fact, her question about how this could be because of her virginity, reveals that she knew what accusation lay ahead for her.  And yet, submission is what she offered.  She set aside her will and embraced God's will.  her heart was turned and her actions followed.

When our actions are turned but our hearts are not, we are merely being religious.  But Mary shows us how obedience and worship are joined in the act of submission.  When heart and action are coupled, it is worship!

This submission of the heart is very difficult.  Like Mary, we must first hear God's will.  This requires us to study and meditate.  We must learn to incorporate listening into our daily quiet time habit.  We must become familiar with the still small voice of our God, so as to avoid any misinterpretation of our own desires for God's desires.  AND THEN, we must give up what we want for what God wants.  It would be so nice to give up things we don't like for things that God wants for us, but the problem is that we must often give up the things we do like: comfort, privilege, respect, finances, fun.  Often God's way includes difficulty, struggle, sorrow, hard work.  It's hard to get inspired to worship this way.  It's way easier to go and sing exciting songs with a rockin' band and dance to the thrilling rhythms of amazing music and to walk away without thinking about God's will for the next day.

Mary's way was the hard way.  Mary's way would be reflected in the teaching that Jesus would give us when He taught us to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."  'Thy will be done.'  The submission in that is so often lost.  We think about God's will in terms of the greater story of the planet and not in the personal way of surrendering our own desires to His will.

Mary's way was the hard way.  Mary's way would also be reflected in the obedience of Christ when He said, "if it is possible for this cup to pass from me, let it be so.  Never the less, NOT MY WILL, BUT THY WILL BE DONE."  (Can you tell that when I went to Sunday School the KJV was the version du jour?)  Yes, that is worship.  In that worship God can do things.  In that worship God is lifted up.  In that worship all men can be drawn to God.  Yes the worship of submission is the worship that is central to the Christian experience and theology.

Mary Christmas!
Let's worship!

Check out this song that is written to reflect Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel and her worshipful response to God's instructions to her.  (if you want to get right to the song, skip ahead to 3:57.)


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