1. “You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42).
Look at the context of this passage. Martha is wrapping presents, stuffing turkey, decorating the tree, baking mince pies and keeping the whole show on the road. She’s feeling neglected and stressed – but her solutions aren’t helping. She doesn’t need a spreadsheet – or even a special reading plan. Just one thing matters – time with Jesus! Whatever our surroundings, the Lord is with us and we can know His presence. It might be two minutes of silence in a packed all-age service. Or a whispered prayer on the commute. He is here and we can come to Him.
2. “Then He placed His right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”(Revelation 17).
What’s stressing you out at the moment? Family relationships? Present shopping? Sickness? Most likely, it is completely out of your control. But remember; it is not out of the Lord’s control. He is First and Last. He reigns over every detail of all creation. We can give Him the worry and know that He hears, cares and helps his people.
3. “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” (Romans 12:6, MSG).
One of the things that kills me when I’m feeling under pressure, is comparing myself either to others, or to some idealised version of myself/my home/my family/my life. I will never match up. And it’s a tyranny that drives me to exhaustion, without ever offering relief. It doesn’t matter what the neighbours are doing for Christmas. It doesn’t matter if your home doesn’t look like the ones in the ads. If you don’t make your own bread sauce or leave someone off the Christmas card list, the world still turns. If your child screams through the nativity; that’s okay. They are them and you are you and the Lord doesn’t make us competitors or identikits. There are things you’ll do well, and things you’ll struggle with. Jesus was laid in a manger with a couple of shepherds on standby… so simple can be very beautiful. So if necessary, step away from the stuffing. Be thankful for the gifts God’s given you and know His grace for the rest!
4. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!..“ 1 John 3:1
Stretched and exhausted? Sick in body or spirit and tempted to give up? Your father is God. Say it the other way around: God is your Father. He has got you and He has got all this, whatever it is.
5. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus … the Spirit who gives life has set you free” (Romans 8 v 1-2).
At this time of year it’s easy to feel guilty — for not being everywhere at the same time; for not giving friends or family the time they want; for not being able to fulfil every child’s wish list; for not donating a kidney to the school raffle; for not making Christmas perfect the way you remember it; or for not making up for the bad Christmases you swore you’d never repeat. Forget it. The Lord loves you, accepts you and is delighted in you, no matter what you do.
6. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” Is. 9:2.
Right now, every shop is selling us an idealised version of the perfect Christmas. This doesn’t exist! We can’t chase away sickness or sadness or relationship struggles with mulled wine and mince pies. But we can find hope and joy amidst the struggles; because that’s what the gospel is all about. Not the absence of darkness; but light shining in it.