The song It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is ringing in my head.
Christmas can be that. It can be a Season of Joy where we connect with others & with God in new and refreshing ways.
We are surrounded by media that puts unattainable expectations on Christmas . Everything I hear these last couple of weeks is about how busy we are & how frantic everyone feels about doing Christmas ‘right’.
We feel pressured to do more, spend more and be more than humanly possible.
We are distracted from experiencing the Reason for the Season- the coming of Immanuel into our world and into our lives.
We have expectations of having a Hallmark Christmas this year.
There will be a perfect tree, perfectly behaved children, perfect gifts & baking without calories. The snow on Christmas Eve will cover the lawns but not the roads . It will fall from a starlit sky & will cease at midnight. Did I mention the perfect family gathering even with crazy Aunt Mildred & grumpy Uncle Ambrose in attendance ? My apologies to any Mildred or Ambrose feeling slighted right now. Problems with anyone called Bob or Mary may be still raw from last year.
I believe the unattainable expectations promoted by the media are actually burning arrows shot by the Evil One. They ignite Core Lies.
Core Lies are ingrained in early childhood often before age 5. They are the result of something that happened or something that is heard.
The core lies are
- I’m a disappointment
- I’m not good enough
- I’m defective
- I’m too much to handle & will get rejected
- It’s all my fault
- I’m helpless ; powerless to fix this
- I’m unwanted/unloved
- I’m bad
These lies form our worldview & are the foundation of our motivations.
Most importantly they define our view of our self , our view of God & of our relationship with Him.
We will either work tirelessly to prove the lies are wrong or give in to to them.
We end up feeling discouraged, defeated & depressed.
We are disappointed in ourselves.
We feel guilty.
Doing Christmas ‘Real’ not ‘Right’
How do we move past the discouragement, disappointment & defeat?
How do we let go of the guilt?
How can I do Christmas ‘real’ instead of ‘right’ this year ?
Doing Christmas Right
Clues to doing Christmas ‘real’ are found in the in the story of Martha & Mary .
The Point of the Story
The story of Martha and Mary is a familiar one. Martha gets much bad press & Mary is applauded.
I believe that the point of the story is not about busyness vs devotion
The point of the story is about dealing with:
- fear of failure
- getting it wrong
- disappointing others
- core lies that distort our worldview
Mary, Martha & their brother Lazarus grew up in the same home.
We don’t know anything about their childhood.
We don”t know why the sisters were so different.
We don’t know why Martha was so distracted by the details of Jesus coming for supper.
We only know she almost missed enjoying the event because of the anxiety over the details.
Luke 10: 38-42
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving and she approached Jesus & said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha you are worried & troubled about many things. But one thing is needed & Mary has chosen that & it will not be taken away from her.
It is only in this gospel that we note the following: ‘And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.’
The issue is not as is frequently taught that Mary put her relationship with Jesus first while Martha was the worker, the anxious one, the sister with misplaced priorities; the one that was chastised by Jesus.
The issue is that even though she spent time with Jesus, welcoming him warmly into her home she was too distracted to benefit from the event.
She was too distracted [worried, pulled away by, anxious, overly occupied and too busy] to be at peace and enjoy the time with Jesus in her home.
When she did finally approach Jesus it was with complaint, resentment and bitterness.
Expressing the emotions, the bitterness, the anger, the frustration to Jesus is not the problem.
I believe that the problem for Martha was that she never looked in Jesus’ eyes.
She never caught that subtle smile, maybe even a ‘wink’ that communicated his love, his approval, his pleasure in her.
She missed his comfort.
She lost the joy of the event.
She was locked in the past & in the future and lost the present.
If we could read the rest of the story we would find that the words: ‘Martha, Martha ….’ were words of welcome spoken with eyes of love.
- What are my distractions?
- What is pulling me away from the comfort & peace?
- How am I being invited to do Christmas ‘real’ this year?
- What has robbed me of the reality of Immanuel- God With Me?
- Jesus, today I choose to let You look at me
- I choose raise my head to look into your eyes.
- Today I choose to let go of the distractions
- Today I choose to just be with You.
Susan Boyle was born in 1961 in a little village in Scotland. Oxygen deficit at birth resulted in a learning disability. She was bullied at school & called ‘Susan Simple’. She was catapulted onto the world stage when she won the Britain’s Got Talent competition in 2009. I can only imagine the internal struggle with the flaming arrows she faced. Tonight I’ve featured Susan’s rendition of Silent Night from her album I Dreamed A Dream.