Christmas in practice varies considerably from one family to the next. What does it look like in yours?
If I had to guess, I'd be fairly confident that it involved people getting together... and food!
It seems, that regardless of your cultural heritage, people love to gather around a meal at significant or important times of the year. The meal is a place where we connect, where we laugh, where we forgive, where we love. Sharing a meal means so much more than just fuelling our physical bodies.
Jesus loved meal-time.
Jesus loved to share meals with those he loved. For him, it was something more than simply eating; sharing a meal was a spiritual occasion.
Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)—Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 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.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary had chosen the good portion.
But just what did Mary choose?
Mary chose to sit and listen. Mary chose to simply exist in the presence of Jesus. Mary chose to ignore the demands of the moment in exchange for something of infinite value, something that would be never taken away from her.
To simply exist in the presence of Jesus, to find your soul's satisfaction in Him, is to find peace and contentment; even in the hurried and anxious world we live in.
The greatest earthly king that Israel has ever known learnt this. David was able to pen these words, even though his life was harassed, threatened and tested beyond what most of us could imagine.
Psalm 16:5 (ESV) — 5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
Psalm 16:11 (ESV) — 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Despite what the carol may say, the evening Jesus entered this world was a 'not so silent night'.
Luke 2:1–21 (ESV)—1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
On that first Christmas, while the world thundered all around them on a chaotic quest for the future, a small group of people chose the better portion. A simple carpenter, a young wide-eyed girl, a group of smelly, field living shepherds, all sat at the tiny feet of their saviour.
This Christmas, some two thousand years later, nothing much has changed. The world still thunders on, your time and energy is still demanded of, and Jesus is still looking for people who will stop to sit at His feet.
Will you choose the better portion?