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Summary: How to deal with the stress of the holidays.

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Luke 10: 38-41 “The Good Part of Christmas”

Are the Christmas holidays the most peaceful time of the year, a time when you finally get to experience some peace in your life – is that Christmas? “Sleep in heavenly peace,” goes the hymn. “Peace on earth,” the angels sang. “Christmas is my favorite time of the year, because it is so peaceful.” Is that true for you?

Many of us don’t “sleep in heavenly peace” during the Christmas season. We can’t sleep. Our “heavenly peace” is replaced with earthly stress. Have you ever felt stress and tension during the Christmas season? The pressure of finding the right gift at the right price, the pressure of having the perfect family get-together even when your family is less than perfect, the pressure of decorating just right, cooking, baking, traveling. There’s the pressure of being happy and joyful. But what if you’ve lost a loved one, and this time of the year reminds you of that loved one, and you feel a little depressed and down. You miss that person this time of the year. And you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me? I’m supposed to be joyful and merry, but I’m not.”

Have you ever felt that stress during the Christmas season? What a pleasure it is to take a break from all of that, and to find some peace in the Word of God. Tonight we look at the familiar story of Mary and Martha. It teaches us something about holiday stress, and how there can be such a thing as peace on earth during the Christmas season.

Can you imagine hosting Jesus at your house? How much work would you do to get ready? Mary and Martha were doing a lot of work. They wanted everything to be just right. The Savior of the world was stopping by for a visit. Jesus arrived, sat down, and started to talk. And that’s when Mary stopped what she was doing, and sat at Jesus’ feet, and listened to what he was saying.

But Martha kept going. Many things still needed to be done. And then she got mad. “Look at Mary just sitting here while I do all the work.” And that’s when Jesus spoke those famous words: “Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen what is better.” Literally, the Bible says, “Mary has chosen the ‘good part,’ and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary stopped getting the house ready. She stopped preparing the food. She stopped trying to make everyone else happy. And she chose the good part, the Word of God, that Jesus was shared with her.

Can you hear Jesus speaking these words to you? He knows how worried and stressed you can be. There is so much to do. So much to get ready. Jesus comes to you this evening, and reminds you to choose the “good part” of Christmas. There is something more beautiful than all the decorations in the world, more satisfying than the best Christmas dinner, more enjoyable than the perfect family get-together. There is something that’s better. After all the decorations are taken down, and all the food is put away, and all the relatives go home, and Christmas music stops playing, and you wonder how it all could end so quickly. There is one part of Christmas that goes on forever. Something that will not be taken away from you.

And that is the Christ of Christmas. He comes into this world as an infant, God hiding in the little body of a baby. He’s here, God himself. He comes because he loves you, and everyone else in the world. He comes because we have this problem of sin that we can’t get rid of. And because of this sin everyone we love eventually dies. And because of this sin, we all deserve to go to hell.

And so God comes in the flesh on Christmas. He picks a lowly family. He’s born in lowly place, and lives a lowly life. Eventually he dies a lowly death. And then he rises from the dead, and all the sins of the world are taken away, and death is defeated, and hell is replaced by heaven for all who believe. This is God’s plan of salvation for you and me, and it all starts in a stable in Bethlehem.

This is the “good part” of Christmas. The part that lasts. The part that brings you peace and contentment. This is why Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year.” Think of all the creative ways the story of Jesus is told at Christmas. The most beautiful songs in the world, songs about Jesus, are sung by everyone at Christmas. Children are so excited to celebrate the birth of their Savior. Listen to them shout it out at all the Christmas programs. Isn’t that the best part of Christmas? There are other things to enjoy as well – the family gatherings and all that goes with them, and it’s all fine and good.

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