Merry Christmas...or is it?

Merry Christmas or is it
Merry Christmas or is it

Merry Christmas…or is it?

It is so hard to believe that we are just two weeks away from Christmas.  Where has this year gone?  As we approach this time of year, Merry Christmas…or is it?

For many, “merry” is the last word they would use to describe this time of year.  Most people find themselves in one of two situations – busy and overwhelmed or desperately lonely with very little to do.  Where are you?  Are you merry and full of joy or is this a difficult time of year for you?  Let’s see if we can relate…

You may be crazy busy with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  You have decorations to hang, gifts to buy and wrap, meals to prepare and parties to attend.  There is no time to sip cider, sing carols or even sleep.  You are busy!!!  People are coming over and you have so much to do it seems nearly impossible to pull it off.  You hardly get the wrapping on the gifts and the bows tied before the packages are ripped open, the food is devoured, and Christmas is over.  You are left with dishes to wash, clutter to clean, toys to arrange and gifts to return.  It happens so quickly you can hardly remember what happened.  You may be left with a sense of accomplishment – but can you say you were merry?  A Merry Christmas…or is it?

My pastor recently preached a series entitled “Over ____”.  There was overwhelmed, over ambitious, over sensitive, etc.  It was a great series and several times we reviewed the story of Mary and Martha.  You remember that one, don’t you?  You will find the story in Luke 10:38-42.  But let me tell it from Martha’s perspective.  Jesus arrived in her town and Martha graciously offered Him a place to stay.  He accepted.  Yikes!  He accepted!! Oh my word!! Jesus is going to stay at Martha’s house!!!  Jesus!  Martha wants everything to be perfect for Him. There is so much to be done – food to prepare (they didn’t have microwaves and refrigerators); beds to make and cleaning. Oh my – things were not in order in her house and Jesus was there!!!  But, she thinks she can pull it off.  I mean – she has her sister, Mary and no doubt – Mary will help her.  They will get everything just right.  What? Where is Mary?  Why isn’t she helping?  She is just sitting there.  SITTING THERE!!!!  She is not doing a single thing.  So Martha is fuming!  She is totally exasperated and complains to…you guessed it…she complained to Jesus.  Well, she did more than complain – she wanted Jesus to set Mary straight and scold her for not helping.  Um…that didn’t happen.  Instead Jesus calmed Martha and explained that Mary did what was important – what mattered most. She sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what He taught.  While Martha focused on all that seemed to matter – Mary focused on the only thing that truly mattered.

So, as you run around like a crazy woman getting everything ready for your Christmas celebration – are you focusing on what really matters?  For your family - is Christmas about decorations, food and gifts?  Or is Christmas about the gift of eternal life that the birth of Jesus offered to us?

Then there is the opposite of the above situation.  A sweet friend of mine enlightened me on what Christmas is like when you don’t have family with whom you can share the joy of Christmas.  Everyone around you is acting a little crazy, rushing about and complaining that they have too much to do.  You on the other hand just don’t get it.  You have very little to do - matter of fact – hardly anything to do.  You have decided to skip putting up a Christmas tree or any decorations.  Why bother?  No one will see them anyway and there is just no need to spend the money or the energy.  Your gift list is short.  You will pick up something for the office Christmas party and make a donation to your favorite charity.  Then that’s it…nothing to do.  Your church small group, your Bible Study class, your art class and your yoga group are all taking a break for the holidays.  Your church decided to take the week off so everyone can be with their family.  You have no one to cook for and no one to share the festivities with.  Your thoughts turn to yourself.  You dwell on what you wish you were doing; the family you hoped to have; the activities you would love to experience.  It is overwhelming and the loneliness and sadness settle in.  It is almost laughable to hear people say Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas…or is it?

Those who are alone this Christmas season and find themselves in this situation actually have a lot in common with Martha, as well.  Martha focused on herself and all that she had to do.  She focused on her feelings of being done wrong.  You may be focusing on yourself, too.  You may be feeling that it is not fair that you are in this situation.  This is not what you had planned.  This is not how you hoped your life would be.  But here you are – alone – and it stinks!  As my pastor recently stated, “When you focus on your offense, you give power to your pain.”  WOW!  Isn’t that the truth!  Being lonely isn’t about being alone.  It is a state of mind, an emotion, brought on when we put our focus on and give power to our disappointment of things not being the way we desire.  Just like Jesus explained to Martha – we should be like Mary and put our focus on the one who truly matters – Jesus.  You see the Bible tells us that once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior – He is with us always.  We are never alone. Joshua 1:9 says the Lord My God is with me wherever I go.  He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  (Hebrews 13:5) We have a hope and a future! (Jeremiah 29:11) Because of Him we can count it all joy! (James 1:2)

Merry Christmas…or is it?

It is my prayer that we can all have a VERY MERRY Christmas this year.  Let’s commit to all putting our focus on the one thing that truly matters – Jesus.  After all, He is the reason for the season – right?  Overwhelmed?  Let go of some things that simply don’t matter and make sure to spend time celebrating the One who does matter.  Invite a friend who may be alone to join your family’s celebrations.  Lonely?  Rejoice in the fact that you are not alone!  You have a friend who loves you and sticks with you closer than a brother.  Lay down your loneliness and pick up a heart full of gratitude for the fact that you are a child of the King – an heir to the throne!  Consider offering to help someone with a lot to do this season.  Offer to wrap gifts or help someone cook for their family.  Find a way to serve others during this time and you will be GREATLY blessed!!!

We have so much to CELEBRATE!!!  So much to REJOICE about!  We have been given the GREATEST GIFT in John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Merry Christmas…or is it?  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!  Absolutely!  Merry! Merry! Merry!  So much to be MERRY about!