CityLine Women – Volume 25
Hello, CityLine Women!
I cannot believe we are rounding out 2023! I praise God for all His faithfulness to CityLine Women this year. We are grateful for every volunteer who has brought us through another beautiful year of learning, teaching, leading, praise, family care, fellowship and growth on our journey with Jesus. We prayerfully look forward to what the Lord has in store for 2024.
Meanwhile, please join us as we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Sunday, Christmas Eve, with services at our regular times, 9 am and 11:15 am. All are welcome. Bring a guest or two and arrive early to grab your seats. We can’t wait to enjoy this powerful time of praise and rejoicing with you!
As we prepare our hearts to receive our King, I pray that Christine’s devotional will help us all remember Who the focus of our celebration truly is.
Grace and peace,
CityLine Women’s Interim Ministry Coordinator
The Power of Christmas
Christmas comes with a lot of fluff.
Let me explain.
From the moment Halloween expires on October 31, our world is transformed into a Winter Wonderland. Streaming services churn out holiday movies en masse and those of us still watching regular television are entertained by the creativity of our country’s highest paid marketing departments. Like the billowy cotton fiberfill that adorns the open spaces of our at-home Christmas-scapes, Christmas comes with a lot of fluff.
And if we’re not careful, that’s all we’re apt to see – the secularized messages of our culture’s perception of Christmas. Surfacy and commercialized, we’ll gloss over the holiday focusing on buying things and making merry, without truly allowing our hearts to be touched by what is real about this sacred season.
The first Christmas was earthy and messy. There were bleating, stinking animals at an an at-home birth mom and dad were left to sort out for themselves. The Child’s first cries were not heard by proud and loving grandparents but a dusty host of tired and outcast shepherds. It’s true the angels sang and a star burned bright, but Jesus’ birth was far less than He deserved.
Our God came to us humble and approachable and low so He could save us from our sin. This is weighty and meaningful good news, raw and honest and true. At Christmas, most of all, we must remember “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (2 Corinthians 4:20 NIV, emphasis mine). Power that came to set what we made wrong to right, restoring us to a relationship with our Creator.
The reality of Christmas is anything but fluff.
So how do we celebrate in a way that expresses what is actually true about this season?
I think we can learn alot from the life of Martha. Hers is not traditionally a Christmas-told story, but along with her brother, Lazarus, and sister, Mary, this trio of siblings was close to the incarnate Messiah.
We are first introduced to her in Luke 10:38-42. She has invited Jesus into her home and becomes busy fussing about the details of her assemblage. Mary has abandoned all responsibility to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching. Martha becomes upset at Mary’s inaction and brings her frustration to the guest of honor Himself.
“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
Luke 10:40b (NLT, emphasis author’s)
When I consider this interchange, words like “direct” and “bossy” come to mind. Also “conviction.” I know I am a Martha, in literally every circumstance of my life. I want to be Mary, sitting and listening at Jesus’ feet. I pray the Holy Spirit transforms me in His image and makes me like Mary in this moment. But nine times out of ten I am Martha – doing, doing, doing, doing – expecting everyone else to do the same and getting all the more upset because they don’t.
And this tendency only gets ramped up at the holidays. This is part of our culture’s Christmas tradition. Doing the things. Seeing the people. Hosting the parties. Making the treats. Anything to keep us distracted from what really matters. But “busy” is not what we are called to do and “frantic” is not who we are called to be.
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!”
Luke 10:41b (NLT, author’s emphasis)
I hear no condemnation in Jesus’ reply, but a measure of compassion (a blessed relief to this most-of-the-time Martha). I sense the closeness these two share that Martha can be honest about her feelings of frustration. She’s coming to Jesus with her aggravation and despite, perhaps, being a tad bit bossy, she’s being real. What more does Jesus ask of any of us?
And yet our honesty is only a beginning. Jesus wants our time and our attention and our affection. He wants us to grow into the women He intended us to be. He wants us to abandon the distraction of all the details and spend our all on Kingdom things.
“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41b-42 (NLT, author’s emphasis)
Jesus did not come so Martha could host nice parties. He did not come so our holidays would be filled with wonderful family memories. He did not lower Himself, leaving the glories of heaven
to be confined to flesh and bones like us so that we could sing a few Christmas carols by candlelight. Jesus came to Earth to redeem the lost. He came to set us free from all the details of sin so we could have real and abundant life in Him.
There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Have you discovered it? Do you wonder at the miracle of a God who loved you so much that He came to you in your distress, before you even knew you needed Him?
Martha’s story continues in John chapter 11 after her beloved brother, Lazarus, has died. We’re told that Jesus knew he had died and yet intentionally delayed His coming. When Martha learns that Jesus is on His way, she leaves Mary behind at home to meet Him.
“Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
John 11:21 (NLT, author’s emphasis)
Martha maintains her familiar candor, but there’s more to her in this exchange with Jesus. There is a depth of faith that acknowledges His power. Even now, when hope is gone, He can redeem what’s been lost. Even now, with Lazarus in the grave four long days, He can raise what’s dead to life.
He can, but will He?
Before performing the miracle we all undoubtedly know is coming, to this broken, faithful woman, Jesus reveals a powerful truth about Himself that breathes hope into the most desperate situation Martha has faced. A truth that continues to breathe hope into all the broken, desperate situations that we face.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
John 11:25-26 (NLT, author’s emphasis)
Do you believe this, sister?
Do you believe the God who loved us so much left His home to come and live like us, in ours?
Do you believe Jesus, who was so angry at the cost sin exacted from our lives, not only weeps with those who weep (John 11:33), but gave His very life to make our wrong, right?
Do you believe that by His sacrifice on Calvary He has freed us from the grave clothes that binds us in this life to offer us NEW LIFE forevermore in His name?
The Kingdom of God, dear friends, is not a matter of talk – or good feelings, or positive energy, or fluff – but of power (2 Corinthians 4:20). This is what began at Christmas. This is Who came to redeem us, both body and soul.
We cannot wonder at the manger without also bowing at the cross.
So as we plan in this season, let us do so with Him in mind. As we make memories with our families, may we first remember the price He paid to set us free. And as we celebrate, let it be for Him alone.
Dear sisters, come.
Let us adore Him.
Lord Jesus, make us aware of your power this Christmas. Remove the distraction of all the fluff our culture wants to entice us with and set our hearts on Kingdom things that are true. We love you Jesus. We thank You for coming and we thank You for saving and we bow down in worship before You.
In Jesus’ Name,
ABOUT THE WRITER
Christine is wife to Michael, boy-mom of three, and a lover of words. She’s a freelance curriculum writer for Awana, blogger, and author who is captivated first and forever by Jesus.
CONNECT AT CITYLINE
● We’d love to see you at our Women’s Conference on Feb. 24! Registration opens on Jan. 15, so don’t forget to reserve your spot!
● Join a Women’s Community Group today and enjoy Bible study, fellowship, accountability and fun!
Serve: If you feel led to pour into the next generation, Children’s Ministry needs you!
● Sign up to Praise & Paint with us on Jan. 13!
● Do you have young children? Join our CityLine Moms of Littles Group Chat! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added.