Don't Miss Out This Christmas
When it comes to Christmas the people go through the season in one of three ways. About half of us go through the Christmas season thinking about the past. We rehearse long forgotten memories of Christmases long, long ago. We wish for another place in time and we kind of superimpose the past into this Christmas and then we evaluate this year through the filter or grid of the past and we dwell there.
Then there’s the other half or almost half of us. We’re always kind of one step ahead of Christmas. “We’ve got to go to the store, we’ve got to get the wrapping paper, we have to go the mall, we have to go to that party.” We’re just kind of thinking one step ahead. We’re not really in the moment. We’re thinking of the next thing that we need to do.
Very few, maybe one out of ten of us, will naturally hit the pause button and leave the past and not be so concerned about the future but actually get out of those two places to come into the moment this Christmas season and capture the moment. I’m not saying what we need to do is eliminate the preparation for Christmas nor am I saying we need to eliminate the memories. It’s just that Christmas affords us some rare opportunities and some rare moments and if we’re not careful, we’ll miss them.
I just want to look at a short Bible story, only four verses long. It’s about capturing the moment. There two different people who approach an encounter with Jesus very differently.
Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.
We see in these four verses a battle for a moment. We see someone winning the moment and we see someone losing the moment. As we look at this passage, I want to unpack four keys to capturing the moment.
During this Christmas Season...
1. We have to replace the urgent with the significant.
Luke 10:39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.
Why was Mary able to do that when Jesus came to visit? She was able to separate the urgent from the significant. I imagine when news came to this home that Jesus was going to stay there Martha was like, “We’ve got to get ready for Jesus!” Mary’s like, “Great! I’ll help you get ready.” But when Jesus came knocking on the door that was when the preparation had to stop, the urgent tasks had to stop and Mary was able to sit with Jesus, connect with Jesus, interact with Jesus, listen to Jesus and engage Him and not miss that moment.
I love this verse from the paraphrase the Message. It talks about being in the moment.
Matthew 6:34 Msg “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now. Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
2. Replace the physical preparation of Christmas with spiritual preparation.
We see in the story how Martha was so distracted. I acknowledge there’s always a time to prepare. But there are also times to stop.
The time to stop is when a moment arrives. How do I define “a moment”? A moment is when something happens that could enhance your relationship with God and people. That’s the essence of the story here with Mary and Martha. Preparation needed to stop. Mary chose what is better. Martha kept going. Martha missed out on an opportunity to enhance her relationship with God and her sister.
3. We need to replace self-absorption with personal reflection.
Vs 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” Then I imagine a real heavy sigh! Vs 41-42 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.
Martha focused on the external side of things. Jesus focused on the internal side of things. Martha focused on what is pressing. Jesus focused on what is needed. What Martha needed was not a new sister. She needed new Martha. Christmas is kind of like that. Jesus visits us. We begin to get caught up in the urgent and we begin to get caught up in the physical preparation just like Martha. What Jesus really wants to do is He wants to talk to you. Jesus gives Martha the gift of reality.
He says, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
You know what you need this Christmas? You don’t need a new gift. You don’t need a new toy. You don’t need a new husband. You don’t need a new wife. You don’t need new kids that listen and obey all the time. You don’t need a new whatever. You need a new heart. I need a new heart. I can’t become the man I need to be by remaining who I am. You can’t become the woman you need to be, that God created you to be, by remaining who you are. You can’t become the man that you need to be, that your family needs you to be, that your kids need you to be, that your world needs you to be by remaining who you are. What does that involve? It involves personal reflection.
Lamentations 3:40 Msg “Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.”
4. We’ve got to replace the superficial this Christmas with the supernatural.
In the coming weeks some moments will come that will enhance your relationship with God and with people. Those moments are going to boil down to choices. You choose one thing or the other.
The Bible says Jesus describing Mary to her sister Martha says this “Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary was not going to leave that encounter without regret. I don’t want you to leave this Christmas with regret, wishing you had done it differently or engaged God or people differently, heading into your new year. God is concerned about your relationship with Him and the expression of that relationship in relationship with others.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 This is what the Lord says: Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!
The bottom-line this Christmas, if you want a good one, you don’t want to miss the moment, is your need to understand and know God better.
Then secondly, God wants you to love what He loves this Christmas. God loves people. God loves kindness. The word “justice” in the Old Testament means compassion. God loves compassion. God loves righteousness, choosing the right thing to do.
This Christmas I encourage you to slow down and focus on what truly matters when the moment comes. Don’t miss “interruptions” that could lead to strengthening your relationship with God and with other people.
Look up from your phone, your shopping list, your to-do list and make a choice to live in the moment.