Do you enjoy the Advent season? Some people enjoy this time of the year and others feel so overwhelmed with all the preparations, planning and events that they can’t seem to find the time to enjoy it. The truth is, Advent and Christmas is a busy time but and it takes a conscious effort on our part that we don’t rush passed all the blessings of the Advent and Christmas season. We can be like the lady who was taking a train ride through a short but beautiful countryside. There were breathtaking fields, meadows, and hills to observe. Her problem was, she was so occupied with organizing and fixing the luggage that she brought along that, when she was finally done stacking, organizing the placing them – they reached the destination and she missed the beautiful, peaceful ride. What a disappointment! If we will go through the Christmas season focused on the wrong things it will inevitably lead to a feeling disappointment and exhaustion when we reach the end of the season. So how can we have a meaningful Christmas this year? We want to take some lessons from two sisters that had Jesus in their home, one was frustrated and the other was richly blessed.
Good intentions can be foiled by distractions
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
When we look at these two sisters, we can very easily label them incorrectly. It is very easy to label Martha as a person who is only concerned about the things of this world and Mary as a person who is concerned about her soul. Martha is the earthly minded, Mary the spiritually minded. But that is not an accurate label. Who invited Jesus? Martha did! She loved Jesus as we read in John 11 verse 5 ”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” She had a plan to spend time with Jesus but there were distractions! Good things that had taken the place of the best. It was good to serve Jesus with a meal and to wait on Him but, it was better to make that secondary and focus on listening to Him. So to have a meaningful Christmas, pray the prayer of the Psalmist: “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in Your way” (Psalms 119:37).
Don’t forget Jesus at your family gatherings
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house” (Luke 10:38). When Jesus was born, there was no room for his parents and him in the Inn. In this house Jesus found room! He was welcomed and served! We want to welcome Him into the center of our celebrations! Jesus is the reason for the season. Has it ever happened to you that you were together for Christmas, there was the usual amazing dinner, there was the excitement of the children, the presents the joyful time together with loved ones but when you drive home after that you feel empty? You felt like something was missing? It has happened to me. When I reflected on the gathering, I had to conclude, I was distracted like Martha was. I remember other gatherings where a portion of the Christmas account from one of the Gospels was read and Christmas songs were sung. Children recited verses they learned for the Christmas program. There was a time of “sitting at Jesus’ feet”. Let us be intentional about making Jesus priority in all our planning. As you plan to have company, ask yourself, how can you glorify Jesus through it? How can you ensure that the soul with be fed?
Don’t let work rob all the time for worship
The good can quickly become the enemy of the best when we allow our priorities to be shifted. It was a good thing for Martha to serve the Lord, but it took too high of a place in her schedule. It is good to spend time with family and friends, but the time spent with Jesus, the reason for the season is more important. Ensure you aren’t too busy working for the Lord that you don’t have time to personally worship him. If we zoom out and think about the busyness of the Christmas time, aren’t most of the things that make us so busy the “details” of the fest rather than the main focus? Decorations, varieties of food, gifts are all a good thing but can easily become a distraction from the reason for the season. They can hinder our genuine worship of Jesus.
Then there is the topic of spending. So much money is spent at Christmas time on each other, on ourselves, on the “details of Christmas”. To have a meaningful Christmas I believe we would do well to remember the poor and needy especially at this time of the year. Afterall, the way to give to Jesus is to give to “the least of these” (Mathew 25:40). How the children get excited if you plan a specific Christmas mission to help someone that is in need. When the get to go shopping, not for them, but for a child that would otherwise not receive any gifts. We can prepare gifts and bring them personally to the needy family or make a collection to support a mission that you prayerfully selected to help for this cause. That way you can be intentionally giving to Jesus. Heartfelt giving, will add meaning to this busy season.
Remember this season is about HIM – love HIM
Jesus was pleased with the hostess that spent time with Him. Jesus wants our hearts! In 1st Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul illustrates how very good things and even sacrifices for God are meaningless if love is not the motivating factor: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). We can sing songs at Christmas, share the Gospel, give generous gifts to those in need but if it doesn’t come out of love for God and the neighbour, we have no reward. The needy people receiving the support will still benefit from our help, but our reward is gone. So, as a father, mother or child in the family ask Jesus to fill your heart with love for HIM and your neighbour. Allow God’s love to flow into all the activities that you can be part of this Advent- and Christmas season.
Bring the true spirit of Christmas ( Jesus) into all that you do and you will be blessed!