The first restaurant that I ever ate at in our town of Shippensburg, PA was Mei Lins Chinese Restaurant. But the restaurant that I have eaten at the most by far in our little town is the Select Diner. I have met with many students and adults over a meal or coffee at this eating establishment. I got this habit of frequenting The Select from my senior pastor. As many in our congregation know the Select Diner has been a big part of our senior pastor’s life for many years. It has often been referred to as “Pastor Todd’s Office”. While he denies this, I am told that before he had a cell phone that it was common for people to call the Diner when they needed to get ahold of him. Well, a while back the Select was bought by new owners.
Well, I will never forget the day that I met with my senior pastor for breakfast on the opening day with the new owners. We walked in and we could immediately tell that things were different: the lights were obviously brighter because you could actually see who you were eating with, they had painted the walls and covered the stains that had been there for years, the workers polo shirts were a different color, the menu had changed so much that we actually had to look at them (we hadn’t needed to look at a Select menu for a while at this point), and lastly the menu no longer had hand written section for the specials.
After we sat down in one of the booths I looked across the table at Todd and I saw on his face what can only be described as sheer terror. I think that I even saw a tear in his eye. (okay that may be a slight exaggeration). I asked him if he was okay and he replied, “I’m not sure. This place has not changed in the 15 years that I have been coming here. So I am not sure how to deal with this.”
So what I saw on my senior pastor’s face was him trying to deal with the change going on around him at a restaurant that had NEVER changed before.
…..change is never easy.
We think sometimes that it is only when we get older that we struggle with change. But let me tell you from over a decade in youth ministry that teenagers struggle just as much with change. Change is hard for any age
There was a movie that came out in the 1990s called “Wayne’s World”. And there was one scene where the character, Garth, was asked how he felt about making changes to his show. He looked up and simply said, “we fear change”. Weird scene? Yes! But remember it was the 90s.Most of us if we were being honest with ourselves would agree with Garth. We FEAR change.
In the account of the angels visiting the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus we read that the first reaction that the shepherds had was to be afraid. Of course, we all would be if we were in their shoes. This was a change in the norm in a big way. We all to a certain extent fear change because change brings the unknown, it requires us to adapt, it threatens our comfort, and it’s unpredictable. However, change is a part of life, and Christmas is the celebration of change. Jesus coming as a human child changed EVERYTHING!
However, this change was hard for people. They had become comfortable in the routine of the law. You can see throughout Jesus earthly ministry in the gospels how people were struggling with this dramatic change from law to relationship.
This relationship that we can have with the creator of the universe comes out of the change that Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection made in our world. The very essence of our relationship with Jesus is change. God is not satisfied with keeping us where we are in our faith. The christian life is about growth, and growth cannot happen without change.
The change that Jesus wants to bring into our lives can threaten our comfort. Just like Jesus was a threat to those who had become comfortable with the LAW and religious procedures. C.S. Lewis said this: “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly do not recommend Christianity.”
Christianity is rooted in change. This change that Jesus wants to make in our lives does not stop with ourselves. He then invites us to be a part of the change that He is doing in our hurting world.
The holiday season is a beautiful time to have a change of pace from our normal schedules and be reminded about what is most important: to celebrate the change Jesus’ birth brought to our world, to celebrate the change that He has made in our own lives, and to remember the change we are to bring about in our hurting world
When it comes to God making changes in your life I want to leave you with the words that the angel told the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. This CHANGE is good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”