Column: Christmas is a season of quiet change
The Christmas season is here. For many people it’s a joyous time, though hectic and exhausting. For others, the holiday is an overwhelming emotional confrontation with isolation and hopelessness.
Regardless of individual circumstances, none of our lives is what we once envisioned. Christmas intensifies that reality for some people. In many other cases, the holiday is a diversion from the things we wish were different. Change is what we’re all craving. The good news is that Christmas is all about quiet change that begins without us knowing it.
In the gospel of Luke, it’s written in Chapter 2:11 that on that first Christmas an angel appeared to shepherds and declared, “a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” It’s said the shepherds hurried off to find Mary and see the baby Jesus. They were reportedly amazed and spread the word around Bethlehem. But all the people in that little town surely continued their difficult lives, unaware of how widespread the change brought by this child would be.
Chapter 2 of Matthew tells us Magi came from the east to visit the One who had been born, “the king of the Jews.” When Herod, ruler of Palestine, heard this, he schemed to use the Magi to find and kill the child that might threaten his power. Ultimately, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee to Egypt to save the newborn Jesus from Herod’s murderous intent. Forced from their own country, they likely doubted Mary’s child could change a world dictated by brutality.
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When Jesus was about 12, He went missing for three days in Jerusalem. His parents eventually found Him in the Temple, sitting among the rabbis. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at his understanding. In response to his anxious parents’ admonishment for disappearing, Jesus said, “Didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what He was saying, according to Luke 2:50. Living under foreign rule, neither his parents nor the rabbis could predict the way a boy would change the world.
Around the age of 30, Jesus approached John the Baptist at the Jordan River and requested to be baptized. As soon as this occurred, Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form of a dove and a voice came from Heaven. Luke 3:22 tells us God said, “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Finally, Jesus was the first to understand exactly how and why the world had changed upon his birth.
It likely wasn’t until this moment, after a life of difficult circumstances, that Jesus could truly become the embodiment of God’s love for mankind. His identity and purpose were revealed. The trials of his parents and people suddenly made sense. It was time for Jesus to begin his ministry. It was time for Him to let everyone know that the world had truly changed.
A similar epiphany can occur in our lives too. The world is often cold and unforgiving. We are swept along by events that surround us. We struggle through pain, failure and loss. It can seem like nothing in life makes sense or turns out right. At best, life is much different than we planned. Who doesn’t wish for something different at times? Fortunately, the story of Christmas tells us quiet changes are always underway.
In this modern world, we are busy and overcommitted. We expect instant results. More than ever, we want to see the fruits of our labor, the fruition of our dreams. A commercialized Christmas doesn’t bring peace and hope that our lives are not falling apart. But Christmas is proof that our lives are actually falling into place.
As Americans, we live in a nation founded to support our hope and faith. The Declaration of Independence recognizes our unalienable rights, including “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” The Constitution of the United States limits government authority and protects our rights to speak our minds, practice our religion and celebrate the profound truth of Christmas. Our government is intended to not inhibit the changes we need in our lives.
Take heart. On that first Christmas, no one perceived how the birth of Christ had radically changed the world. Within our chaotic lives, the onset of new beginnings is even harder to detect. Let Christmas be a reminder that change is quietly happening, regardless of your circumstances today. With faith, patience, and perspective you will discover the good things in store for you.
May you find peace, hope and quiet change this Christmas season.
James D. Kellogg is an engineering consultant and the author of “Radical Action: A Colt Kelley Thriller.” Look for the novel on amazon.com and visit JamesDKellogg.com or email email@example.com.
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