This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Advent day 10: The challenge of change

Alma Ovalle is Director of Student Ministries at Sarasota (Florida) Christian School. She loves to read, write, spend time with family and encourage students and women through spiritual leadership development.

One of our Christmas family traditions is to bundle into the car and drive around Sarasota in search of the perfect tree. Every year this is one of the most exciting parts of our preparation for Christmas. After bringing the tree home, our three children decorate it with all the fixings and trimmings.

But with college schedules, work and soccer games, this year was different. My husband and I ended up going out to select the Christmas tree by ourselves and then decorated the tree later that evening. With each ornament I hung, I found myself feeling angry that our family tradition wasn’t being upheld.

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” I grumbled. “Where are the kids?” I mumbled some more.

Then my husband gently said, “Don’t you remember how we used to tell the kids that one day they’d grow up, that one day they’d be in college and that one day they’d go to work?”

And just like that it hit me. My heart melted. Here I was complaining about something that we had long been anticipating. This growing up of our children was something that we had been planning and preparing for and now that time was here. I glorified God that our children were growing up! Even this long-anticipated change challenged my heart to welcome and adapt, even if the family tradition was changing.

I was reminded of the Acts 11:1-18 story of how Peter and other Jewish followers of Jesus had their traditions and customs challenged regarding the consumption of food. They were angry and grumbled as they felt their tradition was not being upheld, even as Peter accounted for how the Lord prepared his heart for this change through a vision telling what was to come.

As they heard his heart and learned how the Holy Spirit had come to the Gentiles who now believed in Jesus, their grumblings grew silent. I imagine their hearts melted with the joy that the Gentiles had also been given the gift of life in Jesus Christ and that the body of believers was growing. Even though they knew that Jesus was the long anticipated Messiah, this challenge to change their tradition, habits and hearts made led them to welcome and adapt.

Praise be to the long anticipated Savior who came to save us all!

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