NORMAN — December 7, 2013, is a day that I will always remember.
From the bow of the USS Missouri, I watched naval launches shuttle passengers to the USS Arizona memorial. As I toured the Missouri, I stood at the spot where Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the Allied leaders accepted the Japanese surrender.
Staring across Pearl Harbor, it dawned on me that 72 years ago in that very spot, death and destruction rained down on Battleship Row as Japan drove our nation into World War II.
Today, the Missouri is moored near the place where the USS Oklahoma took several torpedoes, capsizing in minutes and claiming the lives of 429 crew members. My soul and emotions stirred as I realized how everything changed that day.
I was at Pearl Harbor as the parent of Norman North band students. The NNHS band was invited to play at the USS Oklahoma memorial ceremony and to represent the state of Oklahoma at the Pearl Harbor Day Parade. The band represented our state and community with great class and honor.
As the band played near the Oklahoma memorial prior to the ceremony, a Schofield Barracks survivor approached and asked if he could direct the band. With great joy, he directed, the band played and those present relished the moment.
After finishing, he said that he always wanted to be a band director, but the war changed that. Have you experienced anything similar? A moment in life where everything changes?
Christmas is one of those moments in which everything changes. Regrettably, the commercialization of Christmas has minimized, if not significantly negated, the transformative nature of Christmas.
You see, the kind of change I speak of doesn’t come from a little round man in a red suit. It comes from the radical and revelational news that in the person of Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem, “God is with us.” Everything changes with Christmas because God “emptied” Himself, took on the form of man, and walked among us. His birth and life are the hinge point of history.
Christmas is the moment that God shouts into the silent darkness of this world, “I love you and I will not leave you broken and alone.” Through Jesus, God offers transformation for shepherds, magi and anyone who will believe and call upon His name. This is why Christmas changes everything.
Christmas is just a few days away. There is still shopping to finish, rooms to clean, travel to be completed and a dozen other things to take care of. Yet, in the midst of the business, let’s not forget the joyous news that “God is with us.” And because of this, nothing will ever be the same. Everything changes: The way we live, the way we love, the way we work, the way we think, the way we give gifts — everything.
Have you experienced this kind of Christmas? Have you shared it with your children and grandchildren?
As Christmas 2013 approaches, let’s open our hearts to the possibility that Christmas still changes everything. Take a moment over these next days to read Luke 2:1-20 and give thanks that things will never be the same.
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