As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Food to prepare. Gatherings to attend. Cards to send. Gifts to wrap. Decorations to arrange just like your favorite Pinterest post.
So much to do during the holidays, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason for the Christmas season. Is your “to do” list as long as your arm? Are you too tired after making preparations to celebrate Jesus?
There was a time when I exhausted myself trying to make every Christmas moment perfect. I fussed over decorations. Every twinkling light perfectly placed. I hosted holiday parties with fancy food. I shopped for the ideal gift and then wrapped it with perfection. I worked until I fell over from exhaustion. The holidays seemed to be about how much there was to be done, and it had to be perfect. Someone help me! Can you relate?
I’ll never forget the year my family moved into a beautiful new home. My dream house. I couldn’t wait to start decorating for Christmas, and the work began the day after Thanksgiving. Not one detail spared. Decorations, lights, gifts, there was so much to do. On Christmas Eve I fell into bed, exhausted. My eyes closed as I was anticipating everyone’s excitement on Christmas morning.
I must have been more tired than I thought. I slept way past sunrise, and I awoke to the sound of my boys laughing. Because I knew they were waiting to open gifts, I ran down the stairs, turned the corner and stopped dead in my tracks. Christmas was over. Wrapping paper was everywhere. The boys were playing with their new toys, and the television was blaring. I missed it, and I was furious. My Christmas preparation joy turned to morning-after anger. It was not pretty.
I had turned Christmas into a “to do” list. I was worried and upset about many things, and none of them was more important than celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
I was distracted by the doing, and I missed the meaning. My heart felt like Martha’s heart must have on the day Jesus came to visit.
On this day, Martha’s home was filled with Jesus followers enjoying His presence and hearing His voice. But Martha, being a natural hostess, was more concerned about all that needed to be done to make her guests feel welcome. She cooked and cleaned with all of her energy. Martha probably didn’t sit down until everyone had a plate. By the evening, her back was hurting, and her feet were aching. Trying to make everything perfect, Martha became overwhelmed and forgot who was visiting.
Martha was distracted by all the preparations to be made.
While Martha swirled around the house, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. She was quietly listening to life-changing words. When Martha’s frustration boiled over, Jesus reminded her that “few things are needed–indeed only one.”
Indeed, only one thing is needed during the holidays. Celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Do you celebrate or do you become distracted by all the preparations to be made? Like Mary, do you take time to sit at the feet of Jesus?
Sitting at the feet of Jesus for Mary and Martha meant being in His presence and listening to his voice. Today, we have God’s Word as the voice of Jesus. Taking time to read and meditate on scripture is sitting at the feet of Jesus. Pouring God’s Word into our hearts and minds will lead us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Scripture will remind us that God loves us so much that He sent His only son, to be born in a manger. He was born to save us. There is only one thing to do, celebrate!
Do we have to choose between being Martha or Mary?
I think the holidays can use both a Martha spirit and a Mary spirit. Many plans and preparations go into a Christmas celebration. Martha would be busy in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. Making people feel welcome and comfortable shows love and concern. Martha was doing. However, Mary was also in the house that day with Martha and Jesus. She was spending her energy focusing on Jesus, and her heart was changed. Mary was breathing in strength and wisdom listening to her Lord. There is a time for doing but it is more important to listen.
To truly celebrate the birth of Jesus, make preparations but set aside time to choose the better thing, spending time with Jesus.
During this beautiful time of year, I hope you can take time to choose the better thing. It can not be taken away. From my family to yours, wishing you and yours a blessed holiday filled with the wonders of Christmas.
Father, give us strength to do what has to be done and wisdom to choose the better thing. Thank you for this time of year where we can celebrate with friends and family the birth of your Son who came that we would be saved.