The Disorienting Dilemma of Christmas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor me, it was the moment I walked out of the delivery room holding my son.

There was this moment in time where I looked at this human whom had not existed previously and knew the world would never be the same again. Whatever I had previously assumed about the world had just changed because of the entrance of this little pink baby.

There are these moments in life when something comes crashing into our everyday experience and completely changes how we see and act in the world.

Sometimes it is the miracle of a new person, or the entrance of a new relationship. Sometimes it is a book or a class or a sermon which presents something we had never understood before. Sometimes it is being in relationship with someone who we would have previously categorized as “other.”

We are going through life and something happens and we can no longer think about or be in the world in the same way we had been before.

Our box is broken, our worldview is turned on its head, our assumptions are shattered and we find ourselves having to rethink everything.

In education, we call this a “disorienting dilemma.” In the Liturgical calendar it is called a “striking realization” or Epiphany.

We typically float through life a bit on autopilot. We make decisions and behave in certain ways largely because that is the way we have always done it. We have certain filters and ways of thinking about the world which automatically kick in and determine what we do without having to think about it.

We pick up little tid-bits from our relationships, churches, Twitter feeds, news casts, movies, and endless other voices in our lives which we assimilate into how we see the world. And we just accept them as true.

Usually the only way this changes is when we have a disorienting dilemma. And while these epiphanies can be difficult, they are actually how we change and transform.

To healthily move through an Epiphany we have to slow down.

We have to take time to reflect on our assumptions, find people who can help us see new perspectives, find new ways of seeing the world, find new ways of living, and then test it all out to see if it works.

Epiphany gives us the space to do this.

The Advent of Christ is a disorienting dilemma, a striking realization. From the moment that baby enters the world, nothing will ever be the same. The world as we know it is forever changed.

This is true whether we are speaking of the Advent of Christ in human history, the Advent of Christ in our lives, or even the encounters with Christ in everyday life.

If we really encounter Jesus, it is going to be disorienting. Jesus makes us rethink how we see the world.
But we don’t always know the extent to which this will shape us.

As I stood in the delivery room holding my son I had no idea all the ways it would change me. And every night when I lay down with that same child (who is almost five) I still have no idea. I know how he shaped me to this point. But every day his presence changes me.

Epiphany is the time where we reflect on the striking realization of Christmas.

We reflect on how we have been shaped to this point.

We reflect on what needs to change as a result.

We search for people who encourage us and help us make sense of this world-changing event.

We rethink how we see the world and try to conform it to how Christ sees the world.

We decide what changes need to be made in how we live and we test them out.

We look for new ways to open ourselves to the influence of Christ and allow him to further disorient us.

Epiphany is a space to pause and reflect on the miracle of Christmas.

It is a margin we are given to reflect and examine as we make our way toward Lent where we try out new ways of living and being.

What does the presence of Christ mean in your life? How are you different? How should you be different?

Are you on autopilot or are you paying attention to the endless ways Christ wants to intersect with your life and change your direction?

Advent is a time to prepare.

Lent is a time to act.

Christmas and Easter are a time to celebrate.

Epiphany is a time to stop, listen, and reflect on the wonderful transformation Christ wants to bring to your life.

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