BY RACHEL AXTMANN
With great anticipation and excitement, we took out all of our Christmas decorations. My small living room was taken over by bins stacked in every free space. My kids were so excited to decorate the tree and see what their new ornament would be. It’s a tradition in my family to give each child an ornament that represents something they have experienced or enjoyed over the past year. We blasted the Christmas music and danced around the kitchen wearing Santa hats, and the wrapping paper went flying off the ornaments. All was merry and bright!
Fast forward one hour later… I have decorations EVERYwhere, my two year old is dropping and shattering ornaments as fast as we are hanging them, my husband was sneezing up a storm from the mustiness of decorations cooped up in our attic over the past year, and my kids don’t care anymore about decorating the tree and are happily eating snacks in the kitchen (another mess). I am left with bins exploding with red and green and a house in chaos. Ahhh!
This little glimpse of my morning can easily become a way of life for me in December. While I love the holiday season and enjoy making it special for my family, I can easily be swept away with the endless Christmas shopping list, searching WAY to long online for the best deals and gift ideas, cookie baking, end of year work projects, and Christmas parties. It can feel like each day is a race only to see the finish line in the distance.
The truth is all of us have a lot of extra things to plan for, take on, and do this time of year. These things aren’t bad! In fact, they can be very exciting and special, but we do need to be mindful to not replace the real heart of the season with all that we have to accomplish. I know it wouldn’t be realistic to suggest we just eliminate the “to do” list. Sure, we could all stand to simplify it a bit, but may I suggest we all take a lesson from Mary?
“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 only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
Mary chose what was BETTER. That was to sit, undistracted, at the feet of Jesus and just take the time to be filled by His presence. What a gift Mary had! She was able to discern, amidst her busy surroundings, what was MOST important. Mary wasn’t being lazy, she wasn't leaving it all to Martha to make her feel overwhelmed. She just knew what was most needed in that moment.
We need to purposefully pursue a “Mary” Christmas this year. Sure, we need to take into account all we have to do, but we also need to set aside time during the busy season to just be with the Lord. Let Him fill you up by reading His word, listening to the beautiful lyrics of Christmas hymns, staring at the glowing lights of your Christmas tree, imagining the wondrous night of His birth, where He became the Light of the World. You NEED this, your family needs this, we all need this. There is no gift, no meal, no present more valuable than time in the presence of your Heavenly Father. So, I wish you a Merry “Mary” Christmas!