I love December! It’s so full of joy as we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Here in this northern hemisphere of the world, the weather cools down and the days get shorter. It seems like even the earth itself is calling for things to slow down and rest.
Yet somehow, I feel like December always turns out way less relaxing than it could. Some of us plan to host family and friends; others plan to travel to meet them. We cook elaborate meals. We clean desperately to hide that buildup of dust we’ve lived with the past three months. We decorate. We shop for the best deals in crazy crowds. All this while we go about our normal daily business.
The Bridgeway worship team started our December setlists with two songs about making room for Jesus. When I was studying in my own time preparing for that set, I heard a familiar passage read in a way I’d never considered.
The story is in Luke 10:38-42. It’s about the sisters Martha and Mary, who welcome Jesus into their home. You might know it.
“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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
– Luke 10:38-42, NIV
You might have heard it framed a certain way before, where Martha is a villain and Mary is a hero. Consider this: the beautiful moment that Mary had at the feet of Jesus never would have happened without Martha welcoming Him into their home. It’s Martha who is credited with actually making room for Jesus! Martha did many good things, but the only thing she really missed was pausing and spending quality time with the Lord.
I felt convicted by this, being a busybody who juggles a lot all the time, especially during the holidays. I know there’s so much to be done, but if the point is to celebrate Jesus, how silly I must look. It’s so easy to get pulled into the DOing of things for God that we can forget about just BEing with Him.
I’ve heard many teachings about this passage over the years, and so often we look at Martha in such a heavily critical light. We tend to want to read ourselves into the position of Mary, but hesitate to identify with Martha. But if we’re honest, I think we’ve all had our Martha moments in our relationships with God and with others. I find it so encouraging that Jesus’s rebuke of Martha in this story is gentle. He doesn’t tell her she’s done a bad thing, only that her sister chose something better.
This season as we celebrate Jesus, I want to choose that better part. To celebrate with, and not just about, Him!
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