"A Baby Does Indeed Change Everything!"

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

A CHC friend introduced me to Faith Hill's song, "A Baby Changes Everything," and I listened to it daily during the last two weeks of Advent and well into the twelve days of Christmas. It made me cry every time as I listened to the way the Christ child changed not only Mary's life, but Joseph's, the shepherds', and everyone's life in general. If you have not heard it yet, please do.

Now that the New Year is here, I find myself wondering exactly how the gift of the Christ child will change our family lives. If we have dared to say "yes," as Mary did, then we know that our lives will never be the same. A baby changes everything. There is no going back.

I suppose we could pack up the Christmas story with the rest of our holiday decorations and simply wait to pull it out again in December. If we do that, we really have not said "yes." We have only recalled Mary's "yes," and the story remains sweet but still.

However, if we have really said "yes" then we have a whole new way of life available to us, and it calls us into action. It is a way of life that enables us to see everyone as an equal; that knows personal connection to all of creation; that believes love is more powerful than anything else. Our "yes" is our "no" to a life of self-loathing, of abusing another for personal gain, of exclusion and cruel competition, of denying the needs of another, of anxiety and negative talk, of choosing to be the victim. When we really say "yes" to a life with the Christ child, we say "yes" to follow his lead of self-offering love. In fact we are part of bringing that love into the world each day.

This can sound challenging, grand or even confusing at first. How do we love this way? Can our family life really change or grow? What does it look like practically, in our day-to-day lives, when we claim the "yes" we said to God last Christmas? The answer, of course, is different for each of us, but the starting place is the same: love. When we start each day, decision or moment with the intention to, and awareness of, love, we show up differently to the task or conversation at hand.

For some of us this may be a new practice. We may be used to starting from a place of defensiveness, doubt, or fear; however, a baby changes everything. We have said "yes" and He is here. Just like Mary and Joseph had to learn to trust their gifts as parents, so might we have to learn to trust the power of love and our ability to offer it. We have our whole lives to live into this new life in Christ.

To make this all the more real, I invite you all to gather as a family or with trusted friends and share with one another one practice each will adopt this month that will remind all of our one true motivator, Love. It might be a mantra one will commit to saying each morning. It might be a new prayer tool one will use or a new scholar one will study. Someone may decide to volunteer at an organization that helps those in need or to visit a lonely neighbor. Maybe someone will give up gossiping or judging others. Whatever is chosen, share it with another. Practice it for the month of January, and at the end of the month see what was learned.

Finally, commit to gathering as a family or with close friends and sharing with one another how each person gathered is an example of love. Really acknowledge each person and the love they bring. This love that comes from the baby who changes everything and our courage to say "yes."