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My most consistent, time-honored Christmas tradition is not a certain ritual, party or family event.

My annual Christmas tradition is saying these words:

“Next year will be different…”

I idealize Christmas as a 2-3 week glorious meditation where Jesus and I finally become best buds. And every year I tend to miss Jesus because I’m too busy writing devotionals and leading services honoring him.

The stinking irony is too much.

Alarm (not Silver) Bells

If you can relate to missing Jesus in this season, I’ll throw a Christmas jab your way:

Overly busy people are often arrogant or insecure.

Ok, ouch…

Don’t get mad. I can only speak to what I see in myself. I’m becoming more self-aware of this negative reality. And not just at Christmas time.

When I refuse to slow down and focus on Jesus, am I saying the world can’t function properly without me?

That’s the sign of an arrogant self-image.


When I refuse to slow down, am I saying my worth depends on “success?”

That’s the sign I’m insecure about the source of my self-worth.

Don’t shrug off “missing Jesus.” It means deeper, more challenging, soul work is required.

A Christmas Offer

Jesus offers a better way:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

"Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

- Luke, 10:38-42, New International Version

This scene unfolds in our house all the time. I play the role of “Busy Martha” when I ask my boys to clean their bathroom. They play the role of “Mary.” The role of Jesus is played by their Xbox. But, I digress.

Here are three keys to kill the Christmas Busyness Tradition:

1. You Have a Choice

“Mary has chosen…”

Christmas doesn’t have to happen to us.

A clear sign of God’s love is the gift of choice.

The way you choose to structure your day, this day, matters. The coming hours will shape you, for good or bad. We deceive ourselves by minimizing the importance of each day/hour and its impact on our soul.

Be with God today – in your work, home, errands, conflict, joy, frustration – Jesus will not force Himself into your day, but He always says, “Yes” to a heartfelt invite.

2. Be OK With Criticism

“…my sister has left me…”

Mary said, “No” to her sister, Martha, and chose Jesus instead.

No is so short and carries enormous weight.

No brings freedom and inflicts pain.

No creates breathing space and spurs jealousy.

No leads to life and creates a vacuum.

No results in peace and conflict.

No is an important paradox.

Gracefully navigate the pushback coming your way.

3. God Will Honor Your Choice

“…it will not be taken away from her…”

Come sit with me, Jesus says, and you will be glad you did.

Sit with Jesus today! Reclaim a few minutes in danger of becoming worthless. Set down your phone, laptop or game controller. Sit in silence. Take a walk. Talk to Him.

Jesus likes to whisper. Be quiet and listen. His words to Martha show Jesus honors this choice.

Today can be the day the worst Christmas tradition begins to die.

Thanks for sharing this with someone else. I appreciate your emails and comments – it encourages me to keep writing! Have a great weekend – next post is Monday… JC


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