Webster defines paradigm as: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
I think that paradigms are difficult to change, mostly because we don’t realize that we have them. I think that the way I view reality IS reality, and it never occurs to me that reality might be different. In fact, perhaps our paradigm can only change when we are shocked and rocked out of our reality by some kind of outside force.
The reality of Mary and Joseph was of a traditional betrothal period and a wedding celebration, then children and life as a humble family living in Nazareth. It certainly didn’t include a pregnancy before they had sexual relations. Why would it? But finding herself pregnant while a virgin rocked Mary’s paradigm.
The reality of so many of the Hebrew people of the first century was that a messiah would come to rescue them from the oppression of Rome. And even though Jesus told His followers many times about how scripture was to be fulfilled through Him, their realities didn’t include the kind of Messiah He was to become. But thankfully through His life, death and resurrection, Jesus managed to rock the paradigm of many. And thankfully He is rocking paradigms still today.
As I sit here on Christmas day I’m pondering my own paradigm about Jesus entering this world. I wish that I knew where my own “assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitute the way I view reality” are off. Today (and tomorrow and every day), I need Jesus to rock my paradigms the way He rocked Mary and Joseph’s; and the shepherds who heard the angels declare His birth; and the three kings who saw the mysterious star; and later Zacchaeus when Jesus showed up for dinner; or the woman when she was rescued by Him from certain stoning; or the blind man who said “all I know is once I was blind and now I see:” and so many others.