By Kevin Squires, Senior Director of Church Partnerships
There’s just something about Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ, while huddling together with family around a perfectly-lit tree… stockings full of goodies hanging from the mantle… everyone stuffing their bellies with one home-cooked meal after another… it’s no wonder they call it the most wonderful time of the year!
For many, Christmas marks a new beginning… out with the old, in with the new. Sounds consumeristic, as we push aside old clothes, old toys, and old tools and embrace new ones. But there’s something gospel-centered about it too. It’s a time of year where we prioritize life and arrange our nativity, both literally and figuratively. Piece by piece, we set the stage for a scene that changed the world. It’s as if we have the culmination of the ages in the palms of our tiny hands, realizing that the second we lower the baby into the manger, EVERYTHING changed! Personally, every time I lower the tiny Messiah into His perfect place in His nativity story, I can’t help but wonder where MY perfect place is in His story.
As I sit here writing this morning, after taking my morning stroll through my social media feed, I can’t help but reminisce on the stories of this past year that still pop up on the screen. Christmas and New Year’s do that too you know. They make you look back, process what you see, and then move forward with a resolution of change. It can open the eyes of some, and close the eyes of others.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to say “out with the old and in with the new” when the old doesn’t seemingly affect the world we choose to live in. It’s easy to ignore and move on from the continual terror of ISIS, Boko Haram, and the many other tragedies we’ve seen throughout the world this year when we don’t live a stones throw from the epicenter of that particular evil. As a white male, it’s easy to close my eyes and ears to institutionalized racism, immigration reform, and other issues that often don’t directly affect the people that look like me. As an American, it’s easy to compartmentalize the effects of Ebola to a small region in western Africa. For those with parents, it’s easy to close oneself off to the millions upon millions of children living without parents. Bottom line, when things appear impossible to change, it’s easier to ignore them than to jump into the trenches to change them.
Well, it’s easy for some.
For others, the story of Christmas digs deep into their hearts and perhaps reveals a secret about change that many tend to forget. You see, in many ways, the nativity story defies what we know about change. Rather than sending a BIG king that would dwarf Goliath, the Father sent His Son, a TINY baby. The culmination of change in the birth of our Messiah appeared to be so small that many mistakenly missed it, ignored it, and even explained it away as meaningless.
I fear that many of us view change the same way today… that if change isn’t BIG, then it just won’t change much.
Thankfully, that philosophy didn’t stop the science teacher in Tiffin, Ohio who, after hearing about the ISIS situation, took a stand and raised hundreds and hundreds of dollars by selling t-shirts to help care for refugees in Northern Iraq. She even challenged her students to buy t-shirts and set a goal that if she sold a certain amount of shirts, she would dye her hair blue! Needless to say, her hair is now blue!
Thankfully, that philosophy didn’t stop the small group in Sumter, South Carolina who hosted a dinner and silent auction that raised thousands of dollars for orphan projects in Cambodia.
Thankfully, that philosophy didn’t stop the students and families at a Christian school in Scott Depot, WV who raised thousands of dollars to facilitate medical clinics throughout churches in Haiti.
Thankfully, as Christmas should remind us, BIG changes often come in SMALL packages.
Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people. As we partake in the “out with the old, in with the new” this holiday season, let us not forget that Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection did the same for us. What will the “new you” look like in the coming year? How can your rebirth change the lives of others, both around you and on the other side of the world?
Maybe you know where to start. If not, get involved with World Orphans today and begin to make a change in the lives of those who need it the most.