As we start the journey to Christmas, I find myself coming back to a familiar passage.
While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-42 (CSB)
A few years ago, I ran to the store because we needed soap. While I was in the store, I started to feel self-conscious about just buying soap – kind of gross, right? It felt like a public announcement that I was still unshowered for the day. So I decided to pick up a few other things to pad the shopping cart. Of course, it wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had totally forgotten one thing, the soap. I had a bunch of stuff I didn’t really need but not the one thing I actually needed.
That’s basically the story of Mary & Martha.
Contrary to how we often talk about this story, Martha is not an evil, type-A, productivity freak who epitomizes everything wrong with those of us who like getting things done. She’s a woman who loves Jesus, loves her sister, and wants everything to go well on what was a pretty big day for her and her family. But somehow all of those good things became distracting things, not bad in and of themselves, but enough to lead Martha away from what she really needed and ultimately wanted – time with Jesus.
I’m guessing you can see the connection to Advent, right? It’s so easy to get so busy with so many good things this time of year – gifts, cards, trees, travel, cookies, and family, to name a few. If we’re not careful, all of those good things will take us away from the ultimate thing.
One thing I ask from the Lord,Psalm 27:4 (NIV)
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
This desire to sit at the feet of Jesus will mean different things for each of us. For some, it will mean saying no to good things so that we can say yes to ultimate things. For others, it will mean protecting time in the morning and evening to be with Jesus. For all of us, it means not saddling ourselves with unreasonable expectations of creating a perfect holiday.
As we take this journey together, we can be confident that whatever we have to let go of will pale in comparison to what we will gain as we gaze on the beauty of the Lord.