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Honoring Christmas: A lesson from two Marys

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The hectic pace which most of us endure in the weeks before Christmas can cause us to lose sight of what we are actually celebrating. But one of the best examples that can help us to focus on Christ during this season comes from Mary, the mother of Jesus.

While pregnant and potentially facing a host of difficulties and complications, Mary offered praise and thanksgiving to God. She pierced through the worries that you or I may have felt if we found ourselves in her shoes, and focused instead on glorifying and praising God for the gift He would be giving the whole world through her. Her focus, amid manifold distractions, was centered on God.

Reading and meditating on Mary’s Magnificat, her holy response to the work of God, is a wonderful place for us to start as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. Its focus can align our perspectives and lead us to adoration at the manger.

The familiar passage about Mary & Martha can also speak directly to our position in this pre-holiday frenzy. It is too easy to let all of the demands of the season distract us from the reason we celebrate it in the first place. (Luke 10:40a: "But Martha was distracted with all of her preparations.") Taking the time to reflect and worship is what Advent is for- yet we often feel like those are the last things we have time to do.

Like Martha, even in the act of serving God, we can get so caught up in doing good things that we forfeit that which is better. We lose out on time in His presence, and we fail to properly prepare our hearts. We work hard during this season- baking, gifting, wrapping, etc.- and these are good things, and labors of love, but focusing on these things alone is Martha’s way, not Mary’s. Jesus responded to Martha, "You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary... Mary has chosen the good part” (vv. 41-42).

We can follow Mary’s example by making time to sit at the feet of Jesus- not after all other work is done, but in the midst of that work, sometimes deferring those things that “need” to be done in order to spend time in God’s presence.

While we work hard to make physical preparations for our celebration, we must intentionally take time to prepare our hearts- this central purpose of the Advent season will be lost by the wayside if we do not. While it takes effort to set aside all of those pressing tasks, it is a great act of devotion to God, and it feeds and centers our souls so that we will derive from this season everything that we were meant to.

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