Day 24: Christmas Eve at Martha's
It's Christmas Eve at Martha's home. Wrapping paper and piles of tree ornaments are scattered throughout the house. The fragrance of freshly baked cinnamon swirls and spiced apple cider fills the air. Martha's list of tasks for the day seems endless. It is another year of feeling she entirely missed the deeper meaning of the season. Of course, this scenario is purely hypothetically. There was no Christmas celebration in ancient Israel and the day would have passed just like another one of those dreary, dark winter days.
Yet I want to pose that Martha's dinner that night and Jesus' birth three decades earlier as well as our Christmas eve in 2021 have more things in common than we might grasp at first glance. Martha's home swelled with guests and serving them was hectic and rushed. Jesus was the reason for the party but she had not time to enjoy His presence. Joseph and Mary joined the throngs of pilgrims to return to Bethlehem, forced by Caesar's decree. Travel and finding accomodation was difficult just as it is today during the pandemic.
Christmas would have never happened in the first place and ancient promises about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem would have never been fulfilled if had not been for a governmental enforced decree for everyone to be registered in their home town. The journey was long and hazardous for a pregnant teenager on a donkey and no health insurance. In our day and time we are facing law enforcements of many kinds. The One in Martha's living room begs us to quiet our souls and behold the bundled babe in the manger, to let our weary soul be soothed by the cries of the newborn, to lay down our burdens at the feeding trough and and simply worship.
Over the past 24 days we have followed the journey of the anxious heart to the feet of Jesus. We have followed Martha from welcoming Jesus and those who are with Him, to being really honest with Him, acknowledging her need for help, her deepest fears - loneliness and abandonment, receiving His love and His words of truth and resetting her priorities to love Him in return.
Christmas, if celebrated with people, will always be busy. But Christ entered our messy world to connect with us right there in the midst of it. He forever tore down the wall between the secular and the spiritual. Now any kitchen sink can become a holy place. Any messy situation can become a manger. Any Martha can become a Mary.