Summary: By looking at the story of Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha we find what is really "needed" during the Christmas holiday season.

December 6, 1998


A little boy and a little girl were singing their favorite Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded “Silent Night” with the words, “sleep in heavenly beans.”

His sister elbowed him, and said, “No. Not beans, peas!”

The way many of us feel by the time we are ready for Christmas, the song might just as well end with beans or peas instead of peace. Because sometimes in the frantic rush to get everything done the peace of the season seems to elude us.

I’ve tried to compile a list of potential things that happen at this time of year which may contribute to increased stress during the holiday season. See if any of these ring a bell, no holiday pun intended.

 Shopping for gifts

 Getting to the necessary holiday parties

 Putting up the decorations

 Cooking a meal

 Wrapping the gifts

 Making enough cookies and breads to give away

 Buying a tree

 Fighting the traffic

 Having enough money to buy gifts

 (If married) Figuring out when to celebrate at both sets of parents without offending either

 All the stores are out of the gift you’re looking for

 Three frightening words – Some assembly required

 Having the right clothes for social occasions

 Gaining weight

 Christmas programs for the kids at school and at church

 Untangling the strands of lights

 Sending out Christmas cards

 Hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” for the 150th time

 Cleaning the house

 Forgetting someone for whom you should have purchased a gift

 Feeling the pressure to make a memory

 Knowing the year is coming to a close and you didn’t accomplish what you intended to

 Facing relatives you don’t get along with

 All of your work is due on a rapidly approaching December 25 deadline

 Knowing that maybe you’ll spend Christmas alone

 Three often overlooked words – batteries not included

 Being a part of a family that celebrates separately because of a divorce

 Christmas lights that won’t work

 Arranging travel schedules

 Missing loved ones who have passed away

 Paying off the credit cards

 Weeding through crowded stores

 Members of your family who find where you hid their presents.

When you compile a list like this, it’s easy to see why Christmas is a major period of increased stress for many people.

Does Christ have anything to say to us in the midst of this season of hurry and rush? I believe he does. After all, it’s his birthday party, so what does he think about all of this?

There’s a humorous little story in the Gospel of Luke that shows how busyness and stress gets in the way of what matters most. It wasn’t his birthday, but it was a party, and Jesus was the honored guest.

READ LUKE 10:38-42

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But 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, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Understanding what Jesus said to Martha about Mary, it’s easy to see that…

THESIS: We will enjoy the season much more when simply focus on what is “needed.”


A. Martha said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40)

I think Martha was experiencing some stress.

Rushing around trying to get everything ready – after all Jesus was in her house!

“Doesn’t anyone care how busy I am?” she thinks. She comes in the room with hors d’oeuvres, “Oh, Mary, dear sister, there you are! Don’t bother getting up. And, Jesus, I wish I could stay and chat like SOME people, but you’ll all be wanting freshly crushed grape juice soon, so I guess I’ll just go back to the kitchen where I’m working ALONE.”

B. Stress is your body’s alarm system.

1. “No one can live without experiencing some degree of stress. You may think that only serious disease or intensive physical or mental injury can cause stress. This is false. Crossing a busy intersection, exposure to a draft, or even sheer joy are enough to activate the body’s stress mechanism to some extent. Stress is not even necessarily bad for you; it is also the spice of life, for any emotion, any activity, causes stress.” (Hans Selye, in The Stress of Life)

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Carl Greene

commented on Dec 13, 2006

Excellent video. Plan to use it with Luke 10:38-42. Lighten up, but with a powerful message. "The REAL reason for the season."

Scott Toms

commented on Nov 2, 2007

Good word. Our body of believers can use a word like this, they go and go and I worry that they put the doing in front of the relationship, letting stress and cares outweigh His Presence. Thanks.

Abraham Barberi

commented on Dec 3, 2016

Greta message! Thank you!

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