Christmas Reflection: Going Against the Grain


When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”

Luke 1:59-60.

Think of a time when you chose to do the unexpected. What were the results?

Going Deeper

Read Luke 1:39-45, 56-60.


John was the only son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Everyone in their community assumed they would follow tradition and name their first-born son after his father. Their neighbors couldn’t imagine why Zechariah and Elizabeth would choose the name John, a name that wasn’t even in the family. Despite their neighbors’ objections, the new parents were determined to follow the angel’s instructions and named their son John.

The name John means “Yahweh has shown favor.” John’s name was selected not to show the world to which earthly family he belonged, but rather to point to his role in salvation history.

There are many examples of people going against cultural norms, often with very positive results. A fun example can be found in the Joe Diffie song, “John Deere Green.” In it, Billy Bob paints his message of love on the local water tower using the color ‘John Deere green.’ The song explains: “The whole town said the fool should have used red, but it looked good to Charlene in John Deere green.” I’m guessing things probably turned out pretty good for Billy Bob.

Other examples are profound in their simplicity—like Pope Francis traveling around Washington DC in a small Fiat instead of a fancy limousine.

I chose to ignore cultural norms when I accepted a weekend option position at work. Most people try to do everything they can to avoid working weekends. All the good stuff happens on weekends—if you’re working, you’re going to miss it. And here I was, committing to working Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with only a few weekends off each year. While I did miss some events, and I had to work a little harder to plan time to hang out with friends, the whole experience was an amazing blessing. I was able to spend time with my sister while she was in treatment for breast cancer. I took classes and got my doctorate degree. But perhaps most significant, it felt like my life was in balance (a three-day week and a four-day weekend helped a lot in this regard!).

Think about the things that are part of your routine because our society expects it or our culture demands it. Are you being called to make a change in one of these routines? What would happen if you did?