Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store purchasing last minute gifts with her son before the stores closed. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her 3-year-old son was no longer clutched to hers. In a panic, she retraced her steps and found the little guy standing with his nose pressed flatly against a store front window. He was looking at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s frantic calls, he turned and with great enthusiasm shouted to his mother, “Look mommy! Come quick! It's Jesus…baby Jesus is laying there in they hay!” With obvious indifference to her little boy’s wonder and joy over Jesus, she impatiently jerked him away from the window and started dragging him down the hall of the mall saying, “What were you thinking! We don’t have time for that! Don’t you know it is Christmas and there are lots of more important things to do today!”
I am afraid that this story relates to many people at Christmas. Do you realize that it is easy to get so caught up in shopping for gifts, preparing for food or travel, going to parties, feeling the pressure to make a memory, putting up decorations and lights, and rushing around that you can completely miss Jesus at Christmas? We can become so stressed out with Christmas that we miss the Savior. The Christmas season is all about preparing for the coming to Jesus into this world to save us from our sins! How can you choose the Savior over holiday stress this year?
In Luke 10:38-42, we read the story of Martha preparing for the arrival of Jesus. When you read the story you will see that Martha was busy getting everything ready for Jesus’ arrival. Her actions speak volumes to our rushing around preparing for Christmas. I can just imagine what she was thinking and doing when Jesus arrived. She was thinking, “Doesn’t anyone care how busy I am? How can Mary just sit at Jesus’ feet like that when there is so much to do. She is wasting precious time when she could be helping me make preparations for Jesus!” Martha was so busy making preparations for the arrival of Jesus that she forgot to enjoy being in His presence. Are we not the same way ourselves?
What can we do about the stresses of Christmas so we can enjoy the Savior this year? Let me mention two practical suggestions for you. First, you should choose the “needed thing” this Christmas! Jesus told Martha in Luke 10:42, “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…”. Mary understood that spending time with Jesus was much more important that the preparations for His arrival. Martha’s preparations were good, but they were not what was best. She had substituted spending time in the presence of Jesus to prepare for Jesus’ arrival. Many of the things we do at Christmas are good, but only one thing is needed…We must spend time with Jesus! Second, cross out the unnecessary this Christmas! Make a list of all you think you must do or need to do to make Christmas special in your life and in your home this year. Once you have the list completed, cross out EVERYTHING that takes away from the real meaning of Christmas! For example, do you really have to spend all afternoon making those “special” cookies when you could spend time with your family? Do you have to go to every party, spend that much money on meaningless gifts, or put up all the lights?
On the night Jesus was born, angels from heaven announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests (Lk. 2:14).” Don’t let the celebration of the most peace filled event in history (Christ’s birth) turn into the most stressful time of the year for you! Remember the words of the Christmas carol:
Silent night, Holy Night; All is calm, All is bright!
Round yon virgin, mother and child;
Holy Infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.