Mary and Martha and Christmas

These two sisters are often portrayed as complete opposites.  Martha is described as the busy one, while Mary is the contemplative one.  I always have and always will defend Martha.  Martha had leadership skills while Mary was more of a follower.  We need both personalities within ourselves if we are to worship God, particularly at Christmas.

My son-in-law, Gary, is often heard saying, “It’s all about balance.”  Gary is a combination personality.  We have too few of his kind.  He is part Martha with a balance of leadership skills and part Mary with contemplative thinking skills.  When it comes to worship, we must balance the worship with the work.

Clearly, Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the most important part.  She was listening.  Martha was busy putting on a meal for 13 additional guests.  Some preachers conjure up the notion that she was preparing too large of a meal but let me tell you, making bologna sandwiches for 13 extra men would be monumental to me!

I find two accounts of Mary and Martha with similarities.  One is in Luke 10 and the other is in John 12.  In both cases, Martha serves and Mary worships.  In John 12 we find the beautiful story of Mary’s gift of spikenard.  Each lady serves sacrificially.  Martha gave time and energy and fulfilled physical needs.  Mary gave time in worship.  They were both right.  They were both wrong.  Each of them needed to serve with balance.  Let’s conjecture here that for the time and the place—they were right for doing what they did.

When it comes to Christmas it is far too easy to get caught up in the festivities.  Decorations have to be perfect; the food has to be plentiful and pretty at the same time.  Gifts need to be wrapped with perfect bows.  On and on the Martha marches to the beat of expectations.  Mary, on the other hand, is reading Advent devotionals, and taking time to write a personal note in a Christmas greeting card.  Mary is thinking about the reason for the season.

So, I say, let’s have a Mary AND Martha Christmas.  It’s all about balance.

I am certainly open to discussion!



  1. Karyl, I’ve always felt kind of sorry for Martha. I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus was discounting her efforts; after all, someone has to make the bologna sandwiches 🙂 I do believe He was pointing out the worship is vitally important. Balance indeed. Good post.

  2. Glenda

    I agree with you completely! Both ladies were doing what was right for their personalities at the time. I also find it interesting that Martha was the one who went out to meet Jesus as he came to raise Lazarus from the dead, while Mary waited in the house. I’m sure Jesus appreciated all three of these siblings for their differences, as they showed their faith in their own ways. God made each of us, and He can certainly use us as long as we’re willing to be used! 🙂

  3. kaygibson

    WEll, with this in mind, I think I’m more Martha than Mary. Not that I skip church, but I do tend to get the food on the table since it won’t put itself there. And, I don’t want to stand in someone else’s way of hearing a sermon…I’ll just do the kitchen myself. LOL When it comes to perfection….that ain’t me. You will get your bologna sandwich, but you’ll have to put the mustard on yourself…and perhaps even find it for yourself. But the next time i’ll have the mustard on the table.

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