In our house, I typically do the cooking on holidays. On Thanksgiving, I’ll have multiple alarms on my phone for the turkey, the dinner rolls, when to start boiling the potatoes, and how long to chill the cranberry sauce. It’s not exactly an art yet, but I’m working on it. Christmas morning is usually the same: I’ll be working on biscuits, eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns, and getting the ham ready to put in for lunch. I’m getting a little hungry just writing about it.
The end result is usually the same: a delicious meal and a worn-out cook. There have been a couple of years that I’ve been so occupied, anxious even, over the cooking that I couldn’t enjoy the meal, let alone any festivities afterward. I’ve wanted so much to have a good meal, a proper holiday tradition, that I exhausted my nerves, and usually those of the people around me.
It’s funny how preparing for something can cause us to actually miss out on the event itself. You hustle around the house to make it look presentable to guests you’ve invited, only to find yourself relieved when they leave. You feel like you need a vacation after simply trying to get everyone ready and out the door in the morning. Or how about that Sunday morning drive to church, where you’ve threatened everyone in the vehicle with indentured servitude if they don’t behave, only to try and calm down before entering the church building.
Luke 10:38-41, only a few verses, have such a telling story for us:
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha was doing good things, things that needed to be done. And she was getting more than a little perturbed that her sister wasn’t helping. Martha was so preoccupied with preparation and activity that she missed the most important thing: Jesus.
We all have a lot going on during the Holidays. It’s the nature of the beast. But part of preparing your heart for Christmas means not letting all the other preparations get in the way of the most important thing this season, and every day: Jesus
Maybe this year you don’t need the 3-course meal. Maybe cut back on an event or two. Perhaps this is the time to just sit back, either alone or with your family, and focus on Jesus. He is more than the baby in the nativity set, He is the King of kings.