Christmas in Bangkok seemingly isn’t much different than back in the States. Here it is all about the decorations and jolly music, sadly what this monumental celebration has become for most people. However, amidst all the material surroundings that Christmas brings, I am even more so reminded of the true reason we celebrate. Living in a place where “Jesus is not the reason for the season” seems to highlight even more so that He is in fact the reason that we do. Here I am not distracted by buying gifts or scheduling which parties to attend and the lack of a spiritual emphasis on this season pushes me to reflect even more on the birth of our Savior. Since I arrived in Bangkok, the interns have had monthly Bible studies where we have been studying Luke. We have progressed slowly through Luke’s gospel account, meaning that for a while we spent time studying the account of Jesus coming into this world. While studying this passage something stood out to me that I felt like sharing with all of you. An aspect of this story that I never paid attention to was the social standings of the characters involved in Jesus’ birth. Take Mary for example, a woman pledged to be married who was also a virgin found out that she was with child in a society that would wrongfully punish her given the fact that she was not yet married. Take the shepherds involved in this story; men who worked hard to provide for their families yet because of their professions were looked down upon by the oppressive government in place. All throughout this story there are examples of God using the lowly and down casted in society to begin the work of God bringing a message of hope and salvation to our world. All of this seems to be incredibly relevant when you consider Jesus’ ministry while he walked on Earth. Jesus did come to bring salvation, to provide a way for God’s people to once again have the opportunity to be reconciled to their Creator, but he also came, as I have come to see, to change the way our world operated. I have often heard that Jesus came to establish a new covenant with humanity. I took that to mean that we were no longer required to live under religious law, but that Jesus desired a personal relationship with Him. Yet, what I have come to realize is that a new covenant also meant shedding light on how the religious laws had become agents of oppression on those whom God loves dearly. A new covenant meant that, as we would now personally walk with our savior that we might be agents of ushering in God’s kingdom as we now had the opportunity to increase our knowledge of God’s heart by being in relationship with Him. Living in Bangkok and having the experiences that I’ve had have taught me that when that baby boy was born and the Savior of the world came to Earth, that it was more than just a story of salvation entering the world but that it was also a story of change coming to the world. This Christmas, I feel challenged to ask myself if I have simply just been enjoying the gift of salvation or if my life, like the life of Jesus, has been about being an agent of change. We have great reason to celebrate because we serve a God who did in fact humble himself and came to this Earth to provide unity among creation, all of which I believe was done out of a deep love for His children. I hope that the loud distractions that life brings, especially during this season as you are frantically shopping and visiting loved ones, that you take the time to reflect on what our Savior did and what it truly meant for this world.