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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Dear Thames

Advent: December 20

Was it another frantic day of Christmas shopping and wrapping gifts and burning holiday treats and remembering friends you failed to mail a Christmas card to? So many of us (guilty) let this season fly by without pausing to remember what we are supposedly celebrating in the first place.

The season all about peace and rest and joy seems to be embedded with frenzy and panic and stress. A time coined “the most wonderful time of the year” feels more like a time packed with hustle and bustle. Our culture is obsessed with going and doing and outdoing each other, especially during Christmas.

But it is when we slow down that we tune in to listen to God. It is when we pause that we remember God’s goodness. It is in stillness, away from noise and pressures and distractions and 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

Of all the chores and the cooking and the shopping to do, 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".

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 will find ourselves "distracted by all the preparations" this week. We will be tying up loose ends and tying ribbon on gifts, with eyelids heavy and souls weary. But we don't have to stay there.

We can choose to seek Christ even when our calendars and our lives feel so 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 our identity is in our Redeemer. 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 pausing you must. Because if we hurry and rush and frenzy without stopping for a moment, we will miss it. We will miss the whole significance, the whole meaning of Christmas: the coming of our King.

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