Summary: Our society creates a huge rush around Christmas that causes many to lose the true meaning of Christmas
Escaping the Holiday Rush
About a day after Thanksgiving, people begin to act like turkeys. A gobble mentality is everywhere. Adrenalin’s up and courtesy is down. We see hot collars, long lines and longer faces. We deck the malls with howls of folly. It’s Christmas. (Adapted from the International Bible Society Booklet: Christmas Pace VS. Christmas Peace)
You might laugh at this but unfortunately, this too often mirrors the truth. We approach the season with a shop till you drop mentality. This spills over into our church because we try to cram as much stuff into this short amount of time as we can. We have to do more to celebrate Christmas.
What would happen if we made concerted effort to do less? The earth would not stop and time would not stop ticking. What would happen if we spent less time on stuff and more time substance? We are so busy celebrating Christmas that we stopped celebrating Christ.
It is impossible to truly celebrate Christmas without Christ!
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!" 41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
The Picture of Two Sisters
Martha was an incredibly giving person.
Martha lived in Bethany, a small village outside of Jerusalem. Martha had a close relationship with Jesus. John records that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. (John 11:5). Martha was likely the owner of the home in Bethany or at least the eldest woman of the house. Either way she had the responsibility of running the house. Martha opened her home to Jesus and the Apostles to provide both food and lodging for them. This was a large task and she took it on willingly.
Martha was a courageous person
There was a very real danger in being too closely associated with Jesus. The danger was magnified because of their geographic closeness to Jerusalem. The rejection of Jesus and the opposition to Jesus were growing at a rapid rate. Many of those who had been following Jesus had stopped being His disciples and the religious leadership was growing more and more hostile towards Jesus.
Martha was a caring person
Martha was caring for both Mary and Lazarus. No reason is given for this but it is clear that Martha loved them both greatly. Martha was caring for Jesus and the Apostles. Martha went out of her way to open her home and provide for their needs.
Mary was a humble woman
Mary had a deep devotion to Jesus. Her desire was to be with Him and nothing else would do. Mary could have placed herself anywhere she wanted to be. She could have given herself a place of honor next to Jesus or elsewhere in the room. Instead, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and that was a place of humility
Mary was hungry
It is clear that Mary had a deep spiritual hunger. Mary listened to the words of Jesus and soaked it up. She was focused on learning from Jesus and drawing closer to Him.
Mary’s actions reveal an inner attitude and desire. She had a spiritual hunger, an openness to listen, a desire to surrender and a willingness to obey.
A Picture of Stress
Martha was stressed by the serving
Luke tells us that Martha was distracted. The word distracted literally means to draw around, to twist or to be draw here and there. This gives us a vivid picture of what was happening to Martha. Martha was being totally twisted with stress and anxiety over serving. She was running here and there being drawn by the needs of this person and that person.
Martha was focused on the preparations of the day and for the guests. In fact, she was so focused on the preparations that she lost sight of her guests. Martha had many guests and a many needs to meet. The issue is not one of effort but rather one of focus. The same is true of us during the holidays. How often do you go out to get things ready for Christmas? How much time do you spend hanging lights, putting out decorations and wrapping presents? How much time do you spend focused on the meaning of Christmas?