"Christmas" means worship, it contains the words Christ and mass. Christians the celebrate Good News of God becoming one of us and coming into the world the same way we came into the world, through a woman. We worship and give thanks to God because we know the end of the story that this baby would grow up to prove God's love and accomplish our salvation through the cross and resurrection.
Today we are living in oft broken world; a divided society, acts of terrorism, racial injustice, a changing climate, an inequitable economy and other seemingly intractable problems fill our consciousness with fear and loathing. With all the problems in our world these days perhaps you might wonder what worship can actually do? Worship is the first discipleship practice; it turns our hearts toward God, renews our minds, resets our emotions and gives us proper perspective.
Worship is central to the story of the incarnation found in the Bible. We find Mary in the midst of all of her challenges of becoming a new mother in impossible circumstances singing:
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him Luke 1:49-50 (NRSV)
Zechariah the father of John the Baptist celebrates the work of salvation that is only just beginning by singing these words:
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. Luke 1:68 (NRSV)
The shepherds going about their normal work-a-day lives witness the angels worshiping so they can tell the Holy Family some Good News to help them through their challenges of being first time parents while far away from home. The angels sang:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" (NRSV)
The Magi take an arduous journey and dodge a murderous middle eastern despot all to engage in a a brief moment of worship for the newborn Savior of the Nations.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 (NRSV)
All of these people and countless since have found, hope, promise, peace and inspiration through worship. This is all available to us through the gift of Christian community that gathers for worship.