Summary: Paul becomes an ideal subject for the study of a Christian in a world of change. He went through the most radical change of any of the Apostles in his conversion. He had the most radical change of career, and faced the most radical changes in theological commitment.
On a dark November day in 1884 the people of Chicago passing over the bridge near Clark
street were surprised. Below them at the dock was a ship piled high with Christmas trees of all sizes.
The news raced through the city, and soon there were reporters there sensing a story, and they were
right. A 13 year old boy named Herman Schuenenman, who was an orphan from Wisconsin,
conceived of the idea of a Christmas tree ship that could bring Christmas trees from Northern
Michigan to Chicago.
His idea worked so well that it became a Christmas tradition to buy a tree from his ship. Children
who bought a tree with their parents grew up to become parents, and they brought their children to
buy a tree. In 1898 the ship sank in a Lake Michigan storm, and Herman's brother went down with
it, but he didn't quit. He got another ship and kept the tradition going. In 1912 Herman and his crew
of 18, and all of the trees, went down in another terrible storm, and they were never found.
Barbara, his wife, known as the Christmas tree lady, the following year in 1913 shipped in the
usual 20 thousand trees and kept the tradition going. She kept it going until 1932 even though in the
last years all her trees were brought in by train. She died in 1933, and with her the tradition ended.
All that is left is the cemetery headstone engraved with their names and a Christmas tree. The point
of this true story is that even deeply formed traditions can and do change, and nothing stays the same,
for the very essence of life in a fallen world is change.
We can all remember experiences of Christmas that can never be the same. I had a cousin and
uncle near my age, and we ran around together as young boys. Christmas at grandma's house was a
tradition all my boyhood life. It was a special time, but once I grew up it was never the same, for all
of life had changed. It is the same for everyone, for nobody can stop time and keep everything the
same. Even if you lived in the White House you cannot do it. Listen to Elinor Roosevelt describe her
"I remember especially the Christmas that Mr. Churchill
was with us after we were involved in World War II. After
that year, the Christmases weren't so cheerful. My mother-in-law
died in the autumn before that first war Christmas.
The boys all went off to different war theaters. Their absence
meant that we did what we could to cheer their families if they
were with us, or we tried to get in touch with them by telephone
if they were far away. We did more in those years for foreign
people cut off from their homelands by war, but it was no
longer the old-time Christmas and ever was to be again."
The world changes, the family changes, you change, and all of life joins in a conspiracy to make
sure that nothing stays just as it is. There is good reason for the wedding vows being a covenant for
better or for worse, for both are inevitable in a world of change. But thank God there is a solid rock
in the midst of this quicksand of constant flux. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is
the Rock and the Anchor that gives stability in this world of perpetual change. Nancy Turner wrote,
Under the old and arching skies
Clear carols call, by street and hill;
The stars that saw the great Star rise
Are shining still, are shining still.
In all the long years, come what will,
There's nothing new and nothing strange
In one old night of song and light,
The heart of Christmas cannot change!
If we are going to cope with life in a changing world, we need a heart that is captivated by the
heart of Christmas that cannot change. We need to be filled with the Spirit of Christ, and surrender to
His Lordship. This is always the key to a happy new year. The way to God does not change, and the
ways to please God do not change. What we need to see is that even the Christ-filled Christian has to
still live in, cope with, and adjust to, a constantly changing world.
Paul becomes an ideal subject for the study of a Christian in a world of change. He went through
the most radical change of any of the Apostles in his conversion. He had the most radical change of
career, and faced the most radical changes in theological commitment. I do not think you will find
another person in all of the Bible who had to adjust to more change than the Apostle Paul. He was