I really need to know who wrote "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" because I would like to drink what they were drinking. That sounds Scroogey, so let me say, I LOVE Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. But "the hap-happiest season of all" also feels like the most exhausting season of all.
The holiday all about peace, rest, and joy is more embedded with frenzy, panic, and stress. Our culture is obsessed with going and doing and outdoing each other, especially during Christmas.
What I have to remind myself is that rushing doesn't help anything. It's when we slow down that our hearts, our ears, and our eyes notice His goodness more. It's when we pause that we remember Who we're celebrating. It's in stillness, away from noise, pressures, distractions, advertisements, and push notifications, that we enter into His presence. The story of Mary and Martha emphasizes this.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38–42
With all those chores on her list, Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. She chose to rest in His presence. She chose to set aside her tasks, even for a moment, to worship Christ. She chose "what is better."
She wasn't consumed with what Martha might think. She wasn't worried with the number of dishes that needed to be washed or the number of cookies that needed icing. She wasn't fretting over her second cousin's Christmas gift or buying another "happy" for the neighbor. And this wasn't laziness. It was obedience. It was a conscious decision to worship Christ. We can all follow Mary's example these next five days.
Andi Ashworth said, “When we allow ourselves to find identity in anything other than Christ, we become inattentive to our Father’s quiet voice. We may be acting in the name of Christ—involved in many aspects of church life, helping individuals in the community, committed to professional or lay ministry—but our attention to the King slips away in all our rushing.”
Like Martha, many of us are "distracted by all the preparations." We're all tying up loose ends and tying ribbons, with eyelids heavy and souls weary. It's like we think that the best gift, the best party, or the best appetizer will heal all our pain this Christmas. But we don't have to stay there.
We can choose to seek Christ even when our calendars and our lives feel way too full. We can pause for even a few minutes to recall what we are celebrating. We can exit the rat race and remind ourselves that the battle has been won. We can cling to the hope of the second Advent, the hope that we will all be made new.
Company may be en route to your front door, your gifts may be stranded on a shipping container in the Atlantic, and your gingerbread house may need piping in the form of Gorilla glue, but pause we must. Because if we hurry and rush without stopping for a moment, we will miss it. We will miss the whole significance of the most wonderful time of the year: the Advent of our King.