I can be a real dud sometimes. That's right, a dud. I didn't say dude, with an e, I said dud—just plain old d-u-d. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't much like surprises. I like predictability and stability. I'll wear the same clothes until they're threadbare, the same old pair of shoes until the soles are so worn and the leaks are so bad that I get tired of wet socks and buy another pair—and even then the pair I get will be just like my old ones.
There's a part of me that likes sameness. I have no yearning to see new places or take trips to exotic ports of call. I tell others, "You go, and show me your pictures when you get back. I like it pretty well around here." This may be a primary reason I’ve been a lead pastor for 34 years but only served two churches in all that time. I know it makes me a dud, but I like the familiar. I could be satisfied eating the same things for supper week after week after week. I like visiting new restaurants, but there has never been a burning desire in me to try them. If I've found a place I like, I'm content to go there over and over again where, as you have probably already figured out, I order the same thing over and over again. And if you ever want to take me out for ice cream, no need to take me to the 31 flavors of Baskin-Robbins because I'll just order chocolate—though at Baskin-Robbins I will occasionally take a walk on the wild side and order chocolate almond. See what I mean? I'm a dud. Just drives Dayna crazy sometimes.
But sometimes … sometimes there is a part of me that longs for newness and change. I remember when my wife and I were waiting for our first child. Getting the room ready. Doing that shower thing. Getting baby presents. Picking baby names. Some of my friends to whom the stork had already paid a visit, told me, "Now a baby will change your life," but well … I was ready. Our children changed our lives all right, but what wonderful changes!
Babies will change your life for sure. The Christmas baby, Jesus, has sure changed a lot of lives. He’s even changed an old dud like me. Jesus is constantly at work making changes large and subtle in my life even now. He works to make me more loving, more patient, more forgiving, more humble, more pliable to change.
John the Baptist elbows his way into the Advent season. And he comes with a message of change: “Repent! Messiah is on the way!” Even though Christmas takes our minds to shepherds and wise men, to Santa and elves, John the Baptist finds a way to stick his pointy nose into this season too: “Repent! Messiah is on the way!”
Maybe in addition to making a gift list this Christmas, we’d be wise to make a “change” list—what might Jesus want to change in me? Why don’t you sit down with an open Bible and an open mind and reflect on that? Maybe He’ll point out some sins for which you need to repent. Perhaps He’ll bring a face to your mind—someone you need to forgive. There’s a good chance Jesus might reveal some act of ministry or service He wants you to do this season. But you’ll never know unless you take some time to get off the Christmas merry-go-round and listen to the Lord.
No season is marked by more rituals and more sameness in the celebration than Christmas. Seems a bit odd to talk about change. But then that pesky John the Baptist just won’t let us off the hook. He barges in and, above the strains of Rudolph and O Come, All Ye Faithful, shouts, “Repent! Messiah is on the way!” Maybe this is a good time for change after all. That Christmas baby changed a lot in this world. I suspect he wants to do some changing in you. Pray it through and follow His lead. Tis the season to be changing, you know.