A Baby Changes Everything
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger.” — Luke 2:7
We had been married for five years before we had our first child. As a young couple in seminary, we were busy taking classes, serving a congregation and going out to movies and dinners with our friends. Then our son, Kendall, was born, and that changed everything! Shortly after his birth, I said to my wife: “We’ve had a very busy week. Let’s take a break and go out to dinner and a movie.” She pointed to the crib where our two-week-old son was sleeping and asked, “What do we do about him?” I was confronted with the realization that having a baby changed the way we lived. We couldn’t simply do what we wanted to do anymore without considering our newborn son.
When God brought his son as a baby into the lives of Mary and Joseph, it changed their lives completely. It also changed the lives of all who have followed him ever since.
Matthew tells us that after the wise men from the east came to Bethlehem and paid homage to the Christ-child, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so “they left for their own county by another road” (Matthew 2:12). In other words, they took a different route home after meeting God in the flesh.
Meeting the Christ-child changed their journey in life. I suspect that everyone who comes to seminary has also taken a new path in life after meeting the Christ-child whom God sent for our salvation.
Once we kneel in adoration before Christ, experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness in our lives, accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, and surrender our own will to the will of God, we travel a different path in life than we did before encountering Christ.
The Good News is that God has a much better plan for our journey in life than we could ever have imagined. I first accepted Christ into my life as a teenager at a church camp in South Dakota. I thought I wanted to be an airplane pilot and applied to the Air Force Academy for my college education. I was not accepted into the Academy, so I went to Dakota Wesleyan University, a United Methodist College in South Dakota. While in college, I met my future wife and felt God’s call to ordained ministry.
God has led me on an amazing life journey. I was blessed to serve as a local pastor in congregations in South Dakota and Indiana for 47 years. When I retired, I thought my service to God was basically completed. But God had other plans. God brought me to serve as President at United Theological Seminary for these past six years, and it has been the greatest joy of my life.
I know that many other followers of Jesus, both lay and clergy, have a similar story about the change in their lives once they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
As we come to celebrate the birth of Christ this year, let us thank God for sending Christ into our broken, fractured and conflicted world and for sending us to share God’s unconditional love and amazing grace for all people. May we be Christ’s peacemakers in our families, our congregations, our communities and our world.
We thank God for sending his son to us as a baby who changed everything!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Kent Millard
United Theological Seminary