Mary and Martha
A couple of weeks ago I was watching one of the morning news shows and the reporter began her segment with an urgent warning,
There are only 65 more shopping days until Christmas!
…and she wasn’t kidding.
What was really sad was that it actually affected me!
“65 days! Oh No! But I haven’t even thawed the turkey!”
But that is exactly what this time of year does to us!
The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years Day have become a frantic, anxiety filled dash through the holidays. It all happens so fast that we hardly remember any of it!
I don’t want to alarm you but do you realize how much we have to do in the next few weeks?
Clean the house, mix the stuffing, cook the turkey.
And ask the eternal question, Did these giblets really come out of this turkey?
Then eat very thing in sight, and pass out in front of the football game.
After we wake up from our tryptophan induced coma we have to sit in traffic, find a parking space,
and fight the crowds. Only to discover that everyone is sold out of Tickle Me Power Ranger –Box game
Then we have to pull the decorations out of the attic, untangle the ball of Christmas lights and wonder why half of them are burned out even though they didn’t do anything but sit in the dark for the last 12 months.
We also have to buy the gifts for our family, attend the party for our boss, and bake the cookies for our neighbors, and address all the cards for everyone else.
This is the season of abundance…
The season of a lot. Where there is…a lot of activity, a lot of family, a lot of shopping,
a lot of food, a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure and a lot of stress.
On top of it we feel the relentless pressure to do it all with the patient generosity of Mother Theresa and the social perfection of Martha Stewart.
And it all begins this Thursday.
But while there is still time, before we get swept up into the fury of the holidays, we need to take some steps to ensure we get through the season with our sanity intact. To do that we are going to learn from a woman named Martha and her sister, Mary.
Read Luke 10:38-42
You think hosting your in-laws over the holidays is a lot of pressure? What do you think it would be like having the Son of God over for dinner?
Martha had the chance to host God in her home. She had a unique opportunity create a special memory that she could have cherished in her heart for the rest of her days. This should have been a happy moment, but in the end it became a day of worry and anxiety
We can identify…
This is the season where we, like Martha, have the opportunity to create a warm memory. But if we aren’t careful the only thing we will end up with is a bleeding ulcer.
If we aren’t careful holiday stress can ruin our holiday fun.
If you don’t take care of stress and anxiety, stress will take care of you.
You are worried and upset about many things… v.41
Mayo Clinic- 80-85% of its total caseload was the result of anxiety and worry.
Another article I read quoted a doctor saying 70% of all medical patients could cure themselves is they could stop worrying.
112 million Americas take medicine for stress related symptoms.
Stress has been shown to cause High Blood Pressure, Ulcers, Head Aches, muscle pain, and heart problems.
If we are going to do any physical harm to ourselves this season lets do it by over eating and not over reacting
Martha is slicing and dicing, she is cooking and cleaning. She is consumed by all the things she is doing and overwhelmed by all the things she still needs to do. She turns to ask Mary a question and she realizes that she is all alone in the kitchen.
Looking through the doorway she can see her sister sitting there in the living with everyone else, while she worked alone in the kitchen
And even though she is in a house full of people who she loves and who love her she suddenly feels very alone. Martha is feeling abandoned and taken advantage of and this has caused their relationship to be strained.
And then she just feels angry.
And you can here it in her words.
“…my sister has left me…” v. 40
Where you aware that stress also affects our vision.
It prevents us from seeing anything other than ourselves and our situation.
To some degree we all know what she is feeling.
There have been times when we have all felt as if we are the only ones doing all the work, and that no one seemed to notice our work and sacrifice. We end up feeling unappreciated and alone.
Irony that we look forward to the Holidays because they have the power to draw us together, It is a time when we should be reconnecting with those we know and love.
But just like Martha and Mary…stress can strain the best relationships and sour the warmest fellowships.
I can see Mary and the rest of the disciples are sitting around the Lord feasting on his word. The Martha comes marching in with a ladle in he hand. Her apron is filthy, her hair is a mess.
“Tell my sister to get up and come help me!”
The room goes silent.
Andrew turns to John and whispers…”Awkward…”
Your gonna make a memory this holiday season, just make sure it’s a good memory.
If the responsibilities make’s us difficult to live with then there is something wrong with how we are dealing with the stress of the season.
“Lord, don’t you care…?” v. 40
This sounds like a question, but it really is more of an accusation.
The worry of the moment has not only driven a wedge between her and Mary, but it has even caused her to question the Lord’s care for her.
Lord don’t you know what I am going through?
Lord don’t you care…
…that I am the only one working?
…that no one is helping me?
…that this isn’t fair?
I am doing this all for you…don’t you care?
If we are not careful we can begin to resent the ones we really love.
Some believe that Stress is caused when we try to do it all.
But the truth is stress occurs when we try to do anything without him.
What steps can we take to make sure this holiday season is as magical as it can be?
1. Know Your Limits
“…Martha opened her home to him.” v. 38
Jesus did not invite himself in.
Jesus did not ask for a big elaborate meal.
Martha’s anxiety is the product of her own choices.
We have to know our physical limits.
Thanks to another Martha, We feel the pressure to create the perfect holiday experience for our families and our guests. You know what I mean. Where the turkey is juicy, the cranberry sauce isn’t shaped like a can, every gift brings tears to their eyes.
We try to live up to the unrealistic expectations that we have built up in our mind. So we over extend ourselves, over commit ourselves and over work ourselves.
This might come as a surprise but napkin origami will not guarantee you a magical holiday memory.
Every year we shoehorn a year’s worth of responsibility, activity and a years worth of spending into 5 weeks.
We have to know our financial limits.
The only evidence of the holidays we have is a statement from the credit car company telling us that for the next 9 months we are paying an annual percentage rate of 21% for a log of processed cheese from Swiss Colony.
2. Choose What’s Better
…my sister has left me to do the work… v. 40
When we read this we assume that Mary did nothing to help with the preparation for the meal. But Martha implies that at some time Mary was helping her, but she left Martha in the kitchen to sit at the feet of Jesus.
I can see Mary in the kitchen working right along side Martha when, suddenly, she comes to her senses. And she realizes…
“God is sitting in the living room and I am peeling potatoes!”
So she put down the peeler and sat down with the savior.
Martha on the other hand was so consumed with what she had to do that she seemed to forget WHO she was doing it for.
That is a the risk we run in our world…
The activity of the holidays have become so frantic that we seem to have forgotten WHO we should really be celebrating.
Mary recognized the significance of the moment and that it was not determined by what was served, or by the gifts being given, but by who was there.
Jesus has a way of helping us keep things in perspective.
It is funny how the things that were once so important instantly become irrelevant when Jesus steps in to the picture presence of the Lord.
…my sister has left me to do the work… v. 40
“Mary has chosen what is better…” v. 42
She had a choice to make…her choice was not between what was bad or good. She had to choose between what was good and what was better. Mary chose what was better.
How do we know the difference? We have to answer the question…
3. Will it Last?
“Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.” v. 42
It is amazing to see how much we will prepare, how much we will do, and how much we will spend all for things that won’t last.
In 30 minutes it is gone. Wiped out! There’s nothing left but a plastic pop up timer covered in teeth marks.
What Martha was doing was essential, but what Mary was doing was eternal.
Don’t let the essential drowned out the eternal.