The last gift has been placed under the tree. Preparations for Christmas dinner have been accomplished. The family is in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Now you lie down for your first quiet moment, exhausted from weeks of shopping and stressed over the Christmas crush of details and family pressures. Lying in bed, you ask yourself if it is really worth all the effort to buy gifts that don’t fit or that disappoint.

I suspect that most of us have walked this path many years, and this year is no different. In the end, you probably ask yourself, “What is the meaning of all this? Is this really what Christmas is all about?” The answer, of course, is a resounding and reverberating NO! Yet, every year, it is the same. Weary and worn to the bone, the busyness of the season zaps the joy and the true meaning of Christmas.

I am convinced that many of us have bought the world’s charms and find ourselves empty on the day we are to be the most full. The most joyful day of the year is reduced to weariness and, at its worst, numbness.

It really is no different from the first Christmas. It is clear that Bethlehem was filled with travelers. The sleepy little town was anything but sleepy on that night. I suspect many of those travelers were bone-weary from their travels, and all were oblivious to the world-changing event that was taking place on that night.

The difference is that we know what happened in Bethlehem that blessed night. But our focus is on things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. We rush toward Christmas and, with a great sigh, rejoice not in Christmas, but when it is over. Drunk by the drug of materialism and miss-focus, we fail to experience the wonder and awe of the birth of the Savior.

Simply put, I don’t want to have the joy and life sucked out of Christmas—I don’t think you do either. But experiencing the true meaning of Christmas will take a giant effort on your part and mine. It will require determination and unrelenting focus; it will not happen by accident.

So what can we do? I could give you a list, but I am going to suggest just one thing. Worship! Stop and worship often during the Christmas season. Turn off the television and sit quietly in the presence of the Savior. Consider that on that first night, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Ponder the remarkable and incomprehensible; sit in the wonder of the incarnation. Do not pass by the thought that when the baby was born in the manager of Bethlehem, He was God with us. All religions describe a god to which people must ascend to know—except Christianity. The only True God came down to our level. Born of a virgin, the God of the universe came in the person of baby Jesus. Ponder this and the only response is worship.

Join the people of God for worship. Sing the Christmas carols with joyful voice. Listen to your pastor unfold the truth of Christ coming to Earth and worship. Be one of the faithful who makes worship with fellow believers a priority.

And yes, when you lie on your bed after all is prepared for Christmas morning—worship Him! Fall asleep with your heart and mind filled with thanksgiving for the Christ Child. And when you awake and the rush for the gifts occurs and fare on the food-laden table is ready to be devoured—worship. Read the simple story of the Gospel and lead your family to worship Him. To do so will make this Christmas a grand and glorious day.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from Polla and me.