Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mary Christmas

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NLT

During the Christmas season, it’s so easy to get caught up in the pandemonium of holiday preparations. Without meaning to, we can get lost in a blur of parties, pageants and presents! I find myself making lengthy to-do lists just to keep up with it all. Why does it seem with every cookie baked, every gift ordered, every package wrapped, that our joy meter dips ever lower? Because, like Martha, we are worried and upset about so many things, when only one thing is really necessary….keeping Christ at the center of it all.

I remember a Christmas when our children were younger that forever changed the way our family celebrates December 25th. It all began calmly enough, with our sleepy eyed family gathered around the tree on Christmas morning. Then, the first gift was opened, and that began a kind of feeding frenzy I won’t soon forget. Paper, bows and packaging flew through the air as the children dove headlong into the pile of presents beneath the tree. When it was all over, no one had really seen what gifts were given or received, and it all felt really hollow. Surely this wasn’t what our Heavenly Father had in mind for His Son’s birthday party! Since that Christmas, we’ve been very intentional in the way we celebrate, careful to keep Christ at the center of our Christmas.

First, our children always participate in a gift-giving project, usually for needy children. For several years, we took gifts to a party at a Children’s Home. This year, it was gifts for poor elderly residents near our small town. Generosity is a wonderful cure for selfishness. Second, we savor Christmas morning, making coffee and hot chocolate and waiting patiently as everyone comes downstairs. When everyone is present, Gene reads the story of the first Christmas from Luke chapter 2. There’s always fresh wonder and reverence among the children, now teens and young adults, as their father tells of angels and shepherds, and the Baby lying in a humble manger. Then he prays, thanks God for the gift of His Son, and asks that our celebration would honor Him. When the gifts under the tree are finally opened, the kids take turns, everyone interested in what the others have given and received. It’s still a ton of fun, but Jesus is the reason for it all.

Maybe your Christmas is all about Jesus. But if your family has gotten a little distracted by the material trappings of the season, I encourage you to think of ways to put the focus back on the Reason for the Season. You’ll have a Mary Christmas, not a Martha one. And you’ll be building traditions that point future generations to the real meaning of Christmas.

Prayer for today: Heavenly Father, please help me and my family to keep Your Son at the center of our celebration this and every year. Be magnified, be glorified as we give thanks for Your indescribable Gift! In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.