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Eat, Drink and Be Mary

Each year we find ourselves in the largest holiday season of the year.  Each year, many of us find ourselves worn out.

For most of my life, I’ve seen the tug of war between church and commerce.  I’ve read sales slogan after sales slogan.  I’ve heard sermon after skit after song on remembering the “Reason for the Season.”

It’s hard to deny that we are in an extra season of tension in our country.  The economy has been losing ground for many people I know. Division over politics, race, religion, educational philosophies, and even whether to mention the word “Christmas” adds to the growing undercurrent of pain that I’m sensing around me.

What’s a person to do?  How does one keep it all in balance?

Two words:  holy party.

The Bible has some sage advice found in the book of Ecclesiastes.  There the write ponders the brevity of life, the arrogance of man, and the meaningless found in most of what we do.  One of the things that he tells his readers to do is to ENJOY LIFE WHILE YOU HAVE IT.

That’s sound advice.  You don’t get two trips on this ride.  There is no reincarnation, no second chance.  If you spend your whole life moaning about what’s going wrong in the world around you, your digestive tract will be a wreck, and the people around you will wish you would just be quiet.

Ecclesiastes 3:13 tells us that one of God’s gifts to us is the ability to eat, to drink and to enjoy our work — which includes our ability to work.   Simply put, there’s a time to FORCE yourself to celebrate for the big or little things that are good in your life.

For a mature believer in Christ, this can (and should) happen every single day.  It’s possible to live a life filled with joy.  But some people just need to make one step in the right direction.

I remember when celebrating meant buying a bit of beef for a meal — anything besides peanut butter.  If that’s where you are, then buy the beef or chicken and celebrate that you are alive.

Now that we have children, one of the traditions we like to follow during this holiday season is to let each child pick out a food or fruit or drink that they personally really would like to enjoy and buy that food for them.  Feasts — people getting together to eat food — were important throughout the Bible because we need times of rest, times to have a good time and to make fond memories.

Celebration doesn’t have to mean going into massive debt to buy a load of imported junk which will break or be thrown away before the next full moon.  Celebration is about people celebrating with people in the presence of God, the giver of life and all good things.

And that’s where the “Mary” part comes in.  The divine interruption into her planned future life with Joseph upset Mary’s life forever.  For the rest of her life, she would be known as little better than a prostitute to some people.  Her reputation was ruined.  But when the angel finished telling her that she, a virgin, would have a child, Mary’s response was simple faith at its best:  “I am the Lord’s servant.  Let it happen as you have said.”

In the midst of celebration, Mary was submissive to the big picture of God’s will for her life.  Her loss of reputation temporarily would also coexist with all generations calling her “blessed.”  Her joy at being the mother of the Son of God would also have to abide with the loss of that Son on the cross.  And the joy of seeing Him risen from the grave was held in hand with watching Him leave her to go back to heaven.

This season, know that bigger things are at stake in your world than a political cycle.  Bigger things are at work than evil men with their truly tiny schemes.

The God of the UNIVERSE is at work!  He is intimately acquainted with your life, your struggles, your plans.  He wants to be the Lord over your future as you willingly submit to His plan and say, “Do whatever YOU want to do Lord!  I’m willing.”  You do matter.  Your contributions may be seen as large by others, or they may never be acknowledged on this earth during your lifetime.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is knowing that you have lived a life that pleases God.

Without that perspective on life, eating and drinking really cannot bring about a celebration because celebration is ultimately produced by purpose.  If you have no meaning for your life, there is no reason to celebrate.  But once you lay down the control of your life to God’s will, life is flush with meaning.

Only then can we truly celebrate with others, when we understand that our lives have been given over to the only One who can guide, protect and receive them in wisdom and love.  Only then can we understand what it means to celebrate a holy party.

This season, eat, drink and be “Mary.”

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