Hope | Advent: Week 1

In the middle of all the Christmas prep, we can lose touch with the real depth and meaning of the season. Advent is a way to bring that back. This year, we can receive real hope. Contrary to popular belief, hope is more than optimism, and it’s available to us all.

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    Welcome to Crossroads Anywhere.
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    We're so glad to have you joining us from anywhere you are right now.
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    I'm here right now with my longtime friend Alli Patterson.
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    - Great to be with you.
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    I always like it when we get to work together.
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    - Yes, it's so good to be with you.
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    - How long have we known each other?
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    It's been a long time.
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    - I know. I was just adding that up, actually, right before this.
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    I think it's 15.
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    - 15? That's what I was going to guess, 15 years.
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    - So we're starting a brand new series today called Advent and this is your baby.
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    What is Advent and what is this series?
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    Fill us in.
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    - It's really funny you said it's my baby.
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    You're right in that I have wanted our community
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    to go through Advent for a couple of years.
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    Because my family and I,
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    we actually have done this at home for a number of years.
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    All advent means is arrival.
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    That's really all the actual word means.
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    And it's a season right before Christmas
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    where we just anticipate the arrival of Jesus into the world
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    and we just focus on the Christmas story.
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    And I think increasingly in our culture,
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    there's all kinds of craziness that goes on in December.
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    And I just think it's hard to root ourselves
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    in the story of Christmas, of Jesus's arrival.
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    And to me, Advent is such an obvious way to do that.
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    So for four weeks, we're going to talk about the things
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    that Jesus brought with Him when He came: Hope, peace.
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    - Love and joy.
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    I was trying to remember them in the right order: Hope, peace, love, joy.
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    Hope, peace, joy, love.
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    - Those four things.
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    And so this week, I'm actually going to be teaching about hope.
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    And I am actually really excited to get to start the series off
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    just because I think it's gonna be great for our community.
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    And I know I need Advent.
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    I need Advent.
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    I think we need it collectively
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    so that December doesn't go by in a blur.
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    And we come January 1st and go, what just happened here?
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    - Yeah. Yeah.
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    - And so for me, it's just a great way to root myself in the season.
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    And I'm excited to maybe have a new family tradition
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    to start in the Schuler household around advent.
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    - Yeah, we have a wreath similar to this.
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    Ours is actually ceramic.
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    It's not all the evergreen, but we -- exactly like this.
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    And we have dinner on Sunday night in our dining room
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    and we light the Advent wreath
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    and we tell a piece of the Christmas story that goes with that candle.
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    And it's just been a really cool tradition for our family.
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    - That's great.
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    - So I'm excited for our community to experience it, too.
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    - So you're going to get something good in this series.
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    And at the end of each message,
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    there's going to be a moment for you to write something down.
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    And so if you're watching from a watch party or in a group right now,
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    your group leader got in the mail cards for you to have for this series.
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    And if you are watching at home or in your car or anywhere else right now,
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    you'll want a piece of paper and a pen for the end of this service
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    to be able to participate in what we're all doing together.
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    Now, aside from Advent being your baby.
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    - Yeah.
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    - Another thing that is near and dear to your heart is the Crossroads app.
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    - Exactly. Yeah.
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    I actually choose the scripture readings that go in the app on a regular basis.
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    And I am in there, I would say,
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    I don't know, three to five days a week.
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    That's how I do my Bible reading is inside the app.
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    And I love looking through the journals of other people in the community.
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    And since I follow you, did you know that
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    when you post a journal, it will tell me.
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    - I didn't know that.
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    - It will say, "You follow Lena.
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    Lena just posted a journal."
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    Then I can, "Oh, my friend Lena,
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    she has something to say about the scripture today.
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    And I can click and specifically read your journal.
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    That way I know what's in your mind and heart as my friend.
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    - It's amazing. I love the app.
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    I'm in there a few days a week as well.
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    Great ways to pray for other people,
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    have your prayer requests prayed for.
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    I would personally love to pray for your prayer requests.
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    If you follow me and send me your requests,
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    me myself and the Anywhere team will pray for you.
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    It's just a great, great tool, a great app to use during the week.
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    So download the Crossroads Anywhere app.
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    I don't think that you'll be disappointed.
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    I don't think that you'll be disappointed.
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    Well, I don't know why that came out, so funny.
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    - You will not --
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    - You will not be disappointed.
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    The other thing that's coming up this Christmas,
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    if you're in the greater Cincinnati area, is Awaited.
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    And Awaited is no longer a Crossroads production,
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    which has been traditionally the last 10 plus years
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    of the creative telling of the Christmas story
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    in dance and music and all kinds of beautiful ways.
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    But it's actually going to be airing at
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    the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati
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    this year in a theater downtown.
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    And so if you're interested in experiencing that,
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    you can get tickets for Awaited now by heading online
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    and purchasing those tickets.
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    And it would be a great way for you to celebrate Jesus
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    and His arrival this Christmas.
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    But without any further ado,
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    we're going to head right into this Advent series.
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    We're so glad you're here.
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    - Long ago a nation, Israel, waited in the darkness for the Promised One.
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    The prophets told of His coming, said He would appear as a baby.
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    He would be the Savior they'd been longing for,
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    and the prophesy was fulfilled.
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    He came in the form of a baby born in Bethlehem,
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    the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus came into the world.
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    With Him real hope entered the world.
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    God in the flesh, reconnecting His people back to Him.
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    A God whose light overcomes all darkness.
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    And now, 2000 years later, in the midst of what feels like uncertain times,
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    Jesus still offers us this life of hope.
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    Would you stand and sing with us?
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    Well, merry Christmas.
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    I think going to say that now, right?
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    We're past Thanksgiving.
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    You can turn to the person next year and say, "That was intense.
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    Right, that was kind of a lot, right?"
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    But it should be because we're stepping into the season of Christmas.
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    Like I get so tired of everything in my life
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    sort of existed at this (sound effect) sort of range, right?
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    I need sometimes to hit reset and something to break in.
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    It's like Christmas just walked in the room and punched you in the mouth.
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    I don't know.
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    But it should break there.
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    And that's what we're doing this whole month with Advent,
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    this thing that means arrival as we set our sights on this King Jesus
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    who came to this earth and changed the world forever.
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    And so each week we're going to come in and we're gonna hit reset
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    and pause in the chaos
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    and set our minds on this Baby Jesus that changed the whole world.
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    And one of the ways we're going to remind ourselves of that
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    is by singing these old Christmas songs that we grew up singing
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    and we know the words to,
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    we hear in the stores or hear on the radio right now.
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    These songs weren't just seasonal things just written about this month.
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    They were written about the Savior.
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    And they were written as old hymns for the church.
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    So they have this old ancient language that we don't use a ton of.
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    They have these old words, but they have these deep truths to them.
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    They're also super educational.
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    Like the other day when my family was listening to Silent Night,
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    my daughter said, "Hey, mama, what's a virgin?"
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    I thought, "Yeah, I'd love to have that conversation right now.
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    That's great. Thank you Christmas songs."
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    They do lots of things and we're going to use them to connect to God.
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    And so wherever you are, if you're online with us,
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    if you're here in the room,
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    we're going to sing together and join in together.
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    - God, we thank you for sending Jesus,
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    a very wonderful, beautiful reason to celebrate this season.
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    We hear words like mighty and majestic and beautiful and wonderful.
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    And all of those words pale in comparison
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    to who He is and how great He is.
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    But we will do the best that we can to honor and lift Your name.
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    We thank You for being who You are and for sending Jesus.
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    In Your name we pray, Amen.
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    All right. Crossroads, thank you for joining in,
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    singing, getting the Christmas season started off right.
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    Let's make this place a little bit smaller.
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    Introduce yourself to someone sitting near you
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    and then you can have a seat.
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    We're so glad you're here.
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    - Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like Christmas songs
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    and specifically songs that I've known what feels like my whole life
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    that are actually worship songs to God.
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    It's pretty awesome.
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    You know, we have lots of people in our church who are tithing,
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    which means they're giving the first 10%
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    of all of the money that comes in directly back to God,
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    specifically to the church.
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    And if you are a tither,
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    specifically if you have begun tithing in the last few weeks,
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    I want you to know that you have personally
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    been prayed for by a staff member.
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    Your name, you as a person have been prayed over.
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    And I got really choked up a couple weeks ago
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    praying for one guy in particular.
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    He's a young man, a teenager who I met
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    earlier this year in California,
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    who has signed up to tithe for the very first time.
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    And this got me emotional for a few reasons.
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    One is I can picture what -- I can feel what it might feel like
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    for my now one and a half year old son 15 years down the road
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    to choose to tithe for the first time.
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    Oh, my goodness, what that would mean to me as a parent.
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    I'm sure what it means to this young man in California's parents,
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    who've been faithful givers for a long time
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    and who've been choosing to raise their kids in the way of Jesus.
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    What is happening there is that God has his heart.
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    And I one day want God to have my own son's heart.
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    I want God to have your heart.
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    And so if you want to give,
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    you could do that by heading to Crossroads.net/give
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    and maybe try giving for the first time.
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    Or you could sign up to tithe for the very first time
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    and tell God that He has your heart.
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    And let's get started with our new series Advent,
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    where today we're talking about hope.
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    - Advent. We've heard about it, seen it, posted about it,
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    maybe even tasted it year after year.
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    So what is Advent?
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    A countdown to presents?
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    A celebration of pets, beauty products, cheese?
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    Well, no.
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    Advent is the season of anticipation and celebration.
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    But the gift we're waiting for is Jesus, not cats.
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    Because with Jesus comes all sorts of life changing goodness.
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    Advent gives us the chance to share in
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    the ancient longing for the coming King, a Savior.
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    And every year for thousands of years,
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    Christ followers have been lighting candles
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    for 4 Sunday's leading up to Christmas.
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    These candles represent four themes in the Bible:
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    Hope, peace, joy, love,
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    that came forth with the long awaited arrival of Jesus.
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    This week we celebrate the advent of hope.
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    - Hey, everyone.
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    How are you?
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    My name is Alli Patterson.
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    It's great to be with you this weekend, this very full weekend.
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    May I say I can't decide how to greet you.
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    It's like Happy Thanksgiving.
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    Welcome to Advent.
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    Merry Christmas.
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    Happy Ohio State Michigan game weekend.
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    I know, all of them so good for us.
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    So good for our spiritual growth.
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    So anyway, this can be just a crazy and full time of year.
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    I know Thanksgiving was late this year.
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    Who has their tree up already?
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    Who had it up before Thanksgiving?
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    Oh, so many of you.
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    Look at all you jolly people.
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    I'd probably be doing that if I wasn't here this weekend.
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    But I love this season, I really do, alongside many of you.
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    And I am thrilled that we're doing Advent as a community.
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    I have been doing it for years with my family.
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    And I am really excited that we are all going to walk through Advent together.
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    Because it is just one of the things that has brought
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    a lot of depth and meaning for me, for my home,
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    for my family, for my relationships with my husband
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    and my kids, right in the middle of a season
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    that can sometimes be kind of crazy.
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    Last year I had three Christmas parties,
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    three consecutive Friday nights in January.
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    In January.
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    I appreciate the gesture, I guess,
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    of shoving it out of the busy season.
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    But when we have to celebrate Christmas in January,
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    something has gotten a little bit lost.
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    And that's why I love Advent.
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    I really do, because it is something that roots us in the season.
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    And not just in the season in any way,
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    but to the story that we want to be connected to.
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    That we want to capture all the meaning and depth of Christmas
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    and what it means by really diving into
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    the story of the arrival of Jesus.
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    That's what Advent means, arrival.
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    And we get to anticipate that for 4 weeks together as a community.
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    And the reason I say the real story is because
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    I have noticed over the last couple of years that
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    there's actually sort of two Christmas stories
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    taking place alongside each other in our culture.
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    Once I started to see this, I couldn't not see it.
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    It's like there's a story and there's characters
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    and there's goodness
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    and there's all kinds of things that are similar.
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    But two stories kind of happening at once.
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    Let me tell you what I mean.
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    We would all say that we --
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    Christmas is a time where we want to be with family.
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    But do we talk a lot about this family?
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    Or do we rather spend time with this family?
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    And we all like to take trips to see those family,
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    but how often do we really dive into the trip this family took?
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    Or are we busy planning trips that feel more like this?
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    And of course, the gift buying, oh, the gift buying.
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    I don't know about you other women in the room,
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    but I find that I buy 99.9%
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    of the gifts that come through my household.
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    And my husband buys presence for me and that's it.
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    Oh, the presents, so many presents that we have to think about.
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    And are those presents --
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    How often do we think about the ones that these guys brought?
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    Or are we busy focusing on the ones that this guy brings?
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    May I just say, is that the creepiest Santa you've ever seen?
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    Do yourself a favor later tonight or sometime this weekend,
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    have a beer and Google creepy Santa and just see what comes up.
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    I'm just saying, just see what comes up.
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    So there's two Christmas stories and Advent
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    is really our chance to really connect ourselves
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    and root ourselves in The Christmas Story.
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    And that is why I love it.
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    The four weeks of Advent, as the video kind of reminded us,
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    the four weeks of Advent celebrate Jesus's arrival
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    and the things that He brought with Him when He came.
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    There are four weeks to Advent and those weeks are
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    hope, peace, joy, and love.
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    And we're going to look at how was Jesus,
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    the arrival of these things, where did that take place?
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    When is it and how can we receive the things
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    that He brings to us today?
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    If you have any Advent in your past,
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    you might have seen an Advent wreath before.
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    This is kind of the traditional way
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    that people mark out the weeks of Advent.
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    And this is sort of how a traditional one looks.
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    I have a ceramic one in the middle of my own dining room table
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    where the candles are falling over
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    because I bought ones that are too small.
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    Really annoying, anyway.
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    So this is the traditional Advent wreath.
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    And a lot of people find a lot of symbolism in all kinds of things.
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    But the main thing about Advent is light.
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    That is why we light candles for every week of Advent.
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    And some people see the wreath that is circular
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    and they think about the eternal life of God
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    that came into the world.
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    Other people like to make their wreaths out of evergreen like this
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    because it reminds us that life comes
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    right in the middle of a season of death
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    and that's what Jesus brings.
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    The candles of this wreath are the traditional colors
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    of purple, which is the sign of royalty,
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    and pink, which is the week of joy.
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    So there's all kinds of different symbolism in the wreath.
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    But the main thing, the big idea,
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    if you remember nothing else, and your candles are red
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    and you just light four in a row.
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    That's all good because Advent is the celebration
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    of the light of God crashing into the world
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    in a little baby named Jesus.
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    Who as He grew, eventually said this about Himself
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    in the book of John 8 these words are recorded, Jesus said:
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    That is what I hope for all of us as we travel through
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    this sort of Advent journey over the next four weeks.
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    I want us to have a more thriving life.
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    I want us to receive the things that Jesus brought with Him,
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    which we can continue on in for new life.
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    And the church has been celebrating this forever,
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    since Christmas became a fixed date.
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    Even though this is our first year at Crossroads,
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    pieces of the church have been celebrating Advent
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    together since somewhere around the year 200-300 A.D.
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    Whenever we fixed a date to celebrate the arrival of Jesus,
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    Advent is an ancient tradition that we are joining into as a community.
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    And this week we are talking all about hope.
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    I was thinking about what hope really is
  • 00:30:57
    and later we will light the candle of hope together.
  • 00:31:00
    But I was thinking hope really simply put, is just:
  • 00:31:12
    That, to me, is just a really simple way to understand hope.
  • 00:31:15
    And the Bible uses hope in two kind of different ways.
  • 00:31:18
    One is just a period of waiting.
  • 00:31:20
    When you hope for something that you just have to wait for.
  • 00:31:24
    In this last week my husband was out of town,
  • 00:31:27
    actually, kind of bummer all week on Thanksgiving week.
  • 00:31:30
    But he was with one of my sons and they were in Nicaragua.
  • 00:31:33
    And so I was -- I might have said something like,
  • 00:31:36
    "I hope for the time that they return."
  • 00:31:38
    It's not -- it's just a waiting period where an end.
  • 00:31:42
    So some of the time when the Bible uses hope,
  • 00:31:45
    it is just the word hope as in waiting for an end.
  • 00:31:48
    But the kind of hope that we're talking about
  • 00:31:51
    with the Christmas story has a little bit more of a charge to it.
  • 00:31:54
    It's the other word for hope.
  • 00:31:57
    It's what I might say when I think about one of my friends
  • 00:32:01
    whose marriage is in a delicate place
  • 00:32:02
    or another friend who's getting ready to have
  • 00:32:04
    a particular operation for some cancer that was found.
  • 00:32:08
    I might say, "I hope her operation gets all of the cancer
  • 00:32:12
    and she never has to deal with this again."
  • 00:32:15
    That's a hope where you're traveling through some kind of pain,
  • 00:32:20
    some kind of difficulty that requires endurance
  • 00:32:23
    and hardship and darkness.
  • 00:32:26
    And that's the kind of hope the Bible talks about
  • 00:32:31
    that Jesus arrived with.
  • 00:32:34
    Not just waiting for an end, but waiting for an end
  • 00:32:37
    through things that were not yet good.
  • 00:32:41
    Jesus was born into a story exactly like this.
  • 00:32:45
    He was born into a people, the Jewish people,
  • 00:32:47
    who were the former nation of Israel.
  • 00:32:49
    And Israel had lived a story that was not only not done,
  • 00:32:54
    it was definitely not good.
  • 00:32:57
    For hundreds and hundreds of years in their previous history,
  • 00:33:01
    Israel had drifted away from God.
  • 00:33:03
    And they had had king after king after king.
  • 00:33:06
    And God had kind of given them chance after chance
  • 00:33:09
    to come back to Him, and they didn't.
  • 00:33:13
    And pretty soon it became obvious that the nation
  • 00:33:16
    was going to end, that it was going to be destroyed.
  • 00:33:19
    And that some of their enemies are going to take over control
  • 00:33:22
    of their land and they were going to be pushed out of it.
  • 00:33:26
    And that happened.
  • 00:33:28
    And right in the middle of that era is
  • 00:33:31
    when the Christmas story actually begins.
  • 00:33:34
    Because God sent the very first people on to the scene
  • 00:33:38
    to announce the arrival of hope.
  • 00:33:42
    They were called the prophets.
  • 00:33:44
    And sometimes when people light the candle of hope,
  • 00:33:46
    they actually call it the prophets' candle.
  • 00:33:49
    Because the prophets are the very first people
  • 00:33:51
    that began to announce that a good ending was going to be possible.
  • 00:33:56
    That there was hope for the Jewish people, for the nation of Israel.
  • 00:34:00
    And not just any old hope,
  • 00:34:03
    a very specific hope for a future restoration,
  • 00:34:07
    a great King, for a period of peace and prosperity.
  • 00:34:11
    And all their hopes were pinned on this person coming.
  • 00:34:17
    I want you to hear the words of Isaiah
  • 00:34:20
    and maybe think just for a moment as you listen to these words,
  • 00:34:23
    what is the thing that you might be wanting a good ending for?
  • 00:34:28
    Isaiah 9 says this:
  • 00:35:11
    Not just Isaiah, but many prophets had words
  • 00:35:15
    that were very similar to this, where they started to say,
  • 00:35:19
    "There is a better ending for you.
  • 00:35:22
    A good ending is coming and it's going to come through a Good King."
  • 00:35:26
    And this good king was very specific.
  • 00:35:29
    Did you catch that?
  • 00:35:30
    It was going to be a king that came through the line of David,
  • 00:35:34
    the once great king of Israel.
  • 00:35:36
    So this was not like, "Oh, I hope God helps us."
  • 00:35:40
    This was like specific hope, clear
  • 00:35:47
    Absolutely they were waiting for a better ending.
  • 00:35:50
    And they were doing it through all kinds of difficulty,
  • 00:35:53
    all kinds of pain, all kinds of hardship.
  • 00:35:56
    And they were waiting for one king that they called the Messiah.
  • 00:36:00
    The Anointed One is what that means, the special one
  • 00:36:04
    with the special connection to God,
  • 00:36:06
    that even some of the prophets called the Son of God.
  • 00:36:11
    But by the time of Jesus, this hope was looking real far away.
  • 00:36:17
    Not only were most of them not in the land,
  • 00:36:20
    they weren't even a nation anymore.
  • 00:36:21
    They hadn't had a king for goodness knows how long.
  • 00:36:24
    And God had been practically silent for 400 years,
  • 00:36:29
    there had been no voice from any prophet.
  • 00:36:32
    And right in the middle of all that waiting there
  • 00:36:38
    was a special announcement from God.
  • 00:36:41
    In Luke 1 it says this:
  • 00:37:06
    Wait, did you hear that?
  • 00:37:09
    No, seriously.
  • 00:37:10
    I really want the weight of these words.
  • 00:37:13
    If you can imagine just for a moment what would this feel like
  • 00:37:18
    to hear this announcement of hope?
  • 00:37:22
    And it says:
  • 00:38:15
    If you were Mary, would you have heard the echoes of the prophets?
  • 00:38:22
    Would you have understood the language from Psalm 2,
  • 00:38:25
    Son of God, or the language from Isaiah about the King of David,
  • 00:38:30
    about the Anointed One that would reign
  • 00:38:33
    on David's throne forever in a kingdom that would have no end?
  • 00:38:38
    And when the angel said to her, "Name Him Jesus,"
  • 00:38:42
    Mary would have instantly understood that that name itself
  • 00:38:48
    meant the Salvation of Yahweh.
  • 00:38:51
    The rescue of the Lord.
  • 00:38:55
    Make no mistake, this announcement that God,
  • 00:38:59
    that came out of 400 years of silence
  • 00:39:02
    and 700 years of pain and waiting and difficulty,
  • 00:39:06
    it came very clearly.
  • 00:39:10
    And nine months later, again,
  • 00:39:13
    with the birth announcement in Luke 2, it says:
  • 00:39:41
    Make no mistake, this was God's announcement that hope was arriving,
  • 00:39:47
    and He was arriving in a little tiny package named Jesus.
  • 00:39:52
    When Mary was told to name her baby Jesus,
  • 00:39:56
    she would have instantly understood the name
  • 00:40:00
    that this baby was given actually means
  • 00:40:03
    the rescue of the Lord, the salvation of Yahweh.
  • 00:40:08
    This was the Messiah.
  • 00:40:10
    And with this king was coming the good ending that they wanted to be possible.
  • 00:40:18
    This is exactly what we need.
  • 00:40:22
    This truth that God would send Jesus down to earth
  • 00:40:27
    to come into a place of darkness,
  • 00:40:29
    to come into a place of difficulty right in the middle of waiting.
  • 00:40:35
    Maybe even when we stop believing a good ending
  • 00:40:38
    is even possible anymore,
  • 00:40:41
    this is the kind of God that we need.
  • 00:40:42
    I was thinking about where this need
  • 00:40:45
    has shown up in my life in the last year.
  • 00:40:48
    I can think of lots of times over lots of years
  • 00:40:51
    that I have needed God to show up in this way.
  • 00:40:53
    Like times where I go, "Where is my good ending?
  • 00:40:56
    Or is there any hope left in this for me?
  • 00:40:59
    Where is the God of Hope in this?"
  • 00:41:04
    And I was thinking the place that I've kind of struggled
  • 00:41:07
    and seen this over the last year or two
  • 00:41:09
    has most often been within my marriage.
  • 00:41:11
    We've been married this year for 20 years.
  • 00:41:14
    And I'm sure that I'm the only person in the room
  • 00:41:17
    that has any long standing relationship dynamics
  • 00:41:21
    with loved ones that are not always great.
  • 00:41:26
    We have one and it has not --
  • 00:41:30
    It has repeated itself in many different times,
  • 00:41:33
    in many different seasons.
  • 00:41:35
    And here's kind of how it goes.
  • 00:41:36
    We come into a time where our capacity is tested.
  • 00:41:40
    Like it's a time of busyness, maybe even some stress.
  • 00:41:43
    But definitely it's going to take kind of all we have
  • 00:41:46
    to do to pull it together and to get through this time.
  • 00:41:49
    Whether it's three days, three weeks or three months.
  • 00:41:53
    We've all kind of faced times like this.
  • 00:41:55
    The time we most need to be together
  • 00:41:59
    we have this tendency to kind of pull apart.
  • 00:42:02
    We have four kids, and it's kind of like when
  • 00:42:07
    all four of your kids come home and announce
  • 00:42:09
    they have a school project due for the 100th day of school.
  • 00:42:12
    And someone needs special macaroni for it.
  • 00:42:15
    So some things get added to my list.
  • 00:42:17
    And I was already in the middle of something for work.
  • 00:42:20
    And then my other kid walks in and says,
  • 00:42:24
    "Mom, look at this weird rash."
  • 00:42:26
    And then I arrange a doctor's appointment,
  • 00:42:29
    which pushes back 14 meetings the next day
  • 00:42:31
    when I'm supposed to be here working on heartfelt sermons
  • 00:42:34
    and writing articles and podcasts.
  • 00:42:36
    And I call my husband in the middle of the day
  • 00:42:38
    and I say, "I'm going to run late because I'm at the doctor."
  • 00:42:40
    And he says, OK, and we rearrange
  • 00:42:43
    around a basketball practice whose time got changed
  • 00:42:46
    in the middle of him trying to serve clients
  • 00:42:48
    and run a law firm.
  • 00:42:49
    And you get the idea.
  • 00:42:53
    A few days like that,
  • 00:42:55
    and we tend to take our lists and go at them separately.
  • 00:42:59
    And we kind of forget to take care of each other very well
  • 00:43:03
    in the middle of that sometimes.
  • 00:43:06
    And so sooner or later we do, one of these,
  • 00:43:09
    we're like, "Good night." "Good night."
  • 00:43:13
    And we sit about this far apart on the couch,
  • 00:43:16
    sort of even mentally checked out
  • 00:43:18
    during maybe the one 25 minute window we would have
  • 00:43:21
    to actually talk to each other after we said, "See at 10 p.m.".
  • 00:43:26
    And we do it all again the next day.
  • 00:43:28
    And earlier this year, we weren't far from this place in our relationship.
  • 00:43:33
    And I was even looking down the road to our anniversary trip,
  • 00:43:37
    which we actually just had, and thinking,
  • 00:43:40
    "Goodness, if this wall is up between us,
  • 00:43:42
    how fun is that really going to be?"
  • 00:43:47
    And we know that we struggle with that.
  • 00:43:50
    And yet it continues to occur.
  • 00:43:54
    It is not only not yet done, it is not good.
  • 00:44:00
    We want a better ending than that.
  • 00:44:02
    We want a God who will come in to that.
  • 00:44:05
    And I think sometimes in the past,
  • 00:44:08
    instead of inviting God into that place,
  • 00:44:11
    instead, we would go to some other places
  • 00:44:13
    for what I think kind of feels like hope, but it's not real hope.
  • 00:44:18
    We might go to someplace, I might do this first one,
  • 00:44:21
    maybe more than my husband.
  • 00:44:22
    And we might say something like, "It's all good.
  • 00:44:25
    It's all good.
  • 00:44:26
    Just go to a positive thinking.
  • 00:44:28
    I'm going to positive think my way out of this.
  • 00:44:30
    It's all good. It's going to end fine.
  • 00:44:33
    You know, it's all going to pass."
  • 00:44:34
    And kind of cheerful my way out of what actually
  • 00:44:39
    are not very good circumstances.
  • 00:44:41
    It doesn't really help to post a positive meme
  • 00:44:45
    on a day when you just kind of go,
  • 00:44:48
    "I don't think we've hugged each other in like six days."
  • 00:44:52
    No amount of positive thinking
  • 00:44:54
    is ever going to change the reality of that.
  • 00:44:57
    I love positive thinking.
  • 00:44:58
    I think I'm a positive person.
  • 00:45:00
    But also it kind of amounts to nothing.
  • 00:45:07
    There's no real object of that.
  • 00:45:09
    It's just trying to wish your way out
  • 00:45:12
    of something with positivity.
  • 00:45:15
    I'd rather be positive than negative,
  • 00:45:17
    but better than that, I'd rather have real hope.
  • 00:45:22
    Maybe that's not you.
  • 00:45:23
    Maybe you do what -- I can do this next one too.
  • 00:45:27
    Maybe you do this.
  • 00:45:28
    Maybe you don't say, "It's all good."
  • 00:45:30
    Maybe you say, "I got this.
  • 00:45:32
    I got this.
  • 00:45:34
    I'm gonna make a list.
  • 00:45:35
    I'm gonna do the bullet points.
  • 00:45:37
    I'm gonna make it happen.
  • 00:45:38
    If I'm not headed for a good ending, I'll just make it myself.
  • 00:45:41
    I have got this."
  • 00:45:45
    Again, maybe this would give us a few steps,
  • 00:45:49
    but is it going to produce the good ending that we're looking for?
  • 00:45:53
    Taking control, saying, "I got this.
  • 00:45:56
    I'm on it.
  • 00:45:58
    I know exactly what to do and where to go to get my good ending."
  • 00:46:01
    It actually is incredibly limited to me.
  • 00:46:08
    Whatever I can provide, whatever resources I have,
  • 00:46:11
    whatever wisdom I can muster, whatever positive thinking I have,
  • 00:46:16
    these are all things that only make a good ending from ourselves.
  • 00:46:21
    And the Christmas story says something else entirely.
  • 00:46:27
    The Christmas kind of hope,
  • 00:46:29
    the hope that arrived with Jesus actually says, "No, you can't.
  • 00:46:34
    You actually don't have any way to get there on your own.
  • 00:46:39
    But guess what? I am coming for you.
  • 00:46:43
    I'm going to come into the darkness, into the struggle,
  • 00:46:46
    into the difficulty with my kind of hope."
  • 00:46:50
    The only time that we've ever found traction
  • 00:46:53
    in our marriage out of these places
  • 00:46:55
    is when we started inviting God right into the middle of it.
  • 00:46:59
    Instead of saying it's all good or I got this or,
  • 00:47:03
    you know, trying to go at it any number of ways.
  • 00:47:05
    What if we just admitted where we were and invited God in?
  • 00:47:13
    When we started doing this, inexplicably, things started to change.
  • 00:47:19
    I don't know if this pattern will recur.
  • 00:47:22
    I pray and hope not.
  • 00:47:23
    But also what we've seen is
  • 00:47:25
    the more we invite God into these places of darkness
  • 00:47:29
    and silence and difficulty and struggle,
  • 00:47:32
    the more quickly we tend to come out of them.
  • 00:47:35
    The God of Hope seems to have resources we don't have
  • 00:47:38
    and wisdom we don't possess.
  • 00:47:40
    And He's able to shift hearts that we can't seem to move on our own.
  • 00:47:44
    And we just went on that 20th anniversary trip and it was awesome.
  • 00:47:49
    And all I know is I don't know how God will meet you
  • 00:47:53
    in the middle of your thing, of your struggle,
  • 00:47:57
    of your ongoing difficulty, of your pain or your darkness.
  • 00:48:02
    But I do know the beginning.
  • 00:48:04
    And the beginning is the same as ours.
  • 00:48:06
    It's saying, "God, this is my thing
  • 00:48:11
    and I want you in the middle of it."
  • 00:48:14
    It's as easy as starting to invite
  • 00:48:17
    the God of real hope into those places.
  • 00:48:21
    I actually wish I could give you a formula.
  • 00:48:23
    I really do.
  • 00:48:24
    Sometimes I think back on the ways that He has moved
  • 00:48:27
    and worked in my struggles
  • 00:48:29
    and I can't even quite put my finger on it.
  • 00:48:31
    Because He has an X factor of how He deals with us each in our own lives.
  • 00:48:36
    But I know the beginning is the same.
  • 00:48:39
    I know the beginning is us saying, "This is the thing.
  • 00:48:43
    And I'm gonna get honest about it
  • 00:48:45
    and I'm going to invite You right into the middle of it.
  • 00:48:47
    I want real hope."
  • 00:48:51
    As I've done this, I've learned three things about real hope.
  • 00:48:54
    And these are amazing pieces that we get
  • 00:48:59
    when we begin to understand the hope that arrived
  • 00:49:03
    with Jesus is real hope.
  • 00:49:05
    And the first of those is that:
  • 00:49:19
    We could make up our own.
  • 00:49:21
    We could give it a shot.
  • 00:49:23
    We could deny we even need it.
  • 00:49:25
    But Hebrews 10 says there's something else we could do.
  • 00:49:28
    It says:
  • 00:49:38
    God has promises.
  • 00:49:40
    He has promises for you, for your life, for me,
  • 00:49:43
    for my life, for all of us who want to be His people.
  • 00:49:46
    And better than empty optimism, we could know His promises
  • 00:49:53
    and wait for the Good King to bring the good ending.
  • 00:49:57
    More than counting on my own resources, next time,
  • 00:50:00
    instead of my bullet points, I could ask Him,
  • 00:50:03
    "Would You bring Your resources into this darkness, God?
  • 00:50:06
    Would you bring Your wisdom into my pain?"
  • 00:50:14
    He is the good ending and all the good endings come with Him.
  • 00:50:20
    The second thing about real hope is that:
  • 00:50:28
    Real hope feeds our ability to stay in the struggle.
  • 00:50:32
    I said I don't know whether my marriage will dip into that place.
  • 00:50:36
    I hope not. I pray not.
  • 00:50:38
    I believe it's possible it won't ever go back into that spot.
  • 00:50:42
    But if it does, I know that my hope will keep me in the struggle.
  • 00:50:50
    Because I know something about God.
  • 00:50:53
    I know that if it isn't good, then He isn't done.
  • 00:50:59
    If it isn't good yet, then God isn't done yet.
  • 00:51:03
    Good endings are all He knows how to bring about.
  • 00:51:06
    He came into our world to bring real hope.
  • 00:51:10
    And real hope is the possibility of a good ending.
  • 00:51:15
    All our God knows how to do is bring about a good ending.
  • 00:51:19
    And if it isn't good, then God isn't done.
  • 00:51:22
    Real hope always feeds, fuels us to stay in the struggle with Him.
  • 00:51:30
    And the last thing is that:.
  • 00:51:36
    I don't know if you know this or not, but Advent
  • 00:51:38
    was not originally only a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
  • 00:51:44
    It was a celebration of the birth of Jesus
  • 00:51:47
    and His coming again, His return.
  • 00:51:52
    If you listen to the Christmas carol called Joy to the World,
  • 00:51:55
    which we will, I'm sure, sing repeatedly through the Advent season.
  • 00:51:59
    You can even hear that and you can apply it to His second coming.
  • 00:52:03
    It was actually a carol that got written for the Second Coming,
  • 00:52:07
    the return of Jesus, the good ending that is promised.
  • 00:52:13
    Real hope always keeps its eyes on the end of the story,
  • 00:52:18
    because that is where our good endings are headed.
  • 00:52:22
    There wasn't just a baby born in a manger.
  • 00:52:24
    That baby grew up and lived a miraculous and perfect life.
  • 00:52:28
    And He was crucified on a Cross and put in a grave.
  • 00:52:32
    And He didn't stay there.
  • 00:52:35
    He rose back to life.
  • 00:52:38
    Listen to what Peter says our hope actually is.
  • 00:52:43
    1 Peter 1 says this:.
  • 00:52:58
    How am I so sure that a good ending is possible for you?
  • 00:53:02
    How am I so sure that God has one for you and He has one for me
  • 00:53:06
    and all the things that we invite him into,
  • 00:53:08
    His intention is to bring a good ending into our life for that thing?
  • 00:53:14
    It's kind of a scary thing to stand up here
  • 00:53:17
    and say that to many, many people
  • 00:53:21
    who have all kinds of different things that they would love hope for.
  • 00:53:27
    And the reason I can and the reason I know
  • 00:53:30
    is exactly what Peter says: Our hope is alive.
  • 00:53:34
    Our hope has been resurrected, literally, from the grave.
  • 00:53:38
    Our hope's name is Jesus and Jesus is alive and resurrected today.
  • 00:53:43
    That means anything is possible for you as well.
  • 00:53:46
    That means any resurrection is possible for me as well.
  • 00:53:49
    Do you need God to resurrect your relationship yet again?
  • 00:53:53
    Do you need Him to resurrect some body part that isn't working right?
  • 00:53:57
    What about some ongoing struggles that you have?
  • 00:54:00
    Whatever resurrection you need,
  • 00:54:03
    it is possible because our hope is alive, literally alive.
  • 00:54:11
    And one thing I know is if it's not good,
  • 00:54:14
    the thing that you're thinking, then God is not done.
  • 00:54:20
    There's an end to the story
  • 00:54:21
    and your good ending is with the Good King.
  • 00:54:26
    I want you to listen to this piece of an interview by a guy named --
  • 00:54:30
    It was a Vietnam prisoner of war.
  • 00:54:33
    His name is Admiral Jim Stockdale.
  • 00:54:36
    And he was kept prisoner of war for eight years.
  • 00:54:40
    He was tortured 28 times.
  • 00:54:42
    No rights, no release date, no guaranteed survival.
  • 00:54:45
    And when he was released, part of an interview
  • 00:54:48
    was captured with him in a book called Good to Great.
  • 00:54:53
    The interviewer said:
  • 00:55:00
    And he said this:
  • 00:55:11
    And the interviewer said:
  • 00:55:43
    Whatever your brutal facts are, whatever mine are,
  • 00:55:50
    real hope doesn't ask us to deny those.
  • 00:55:54
    It just asked us not to lose faith in the end of the story.
  • 00:55:57
    It asks us to believe that the Good King still brings good endings.
  • 00:56:01
    That your hope through that Good King is alive.
  • 00:56:04
    And that if it isn't good,
  • 00:56:06
    then your story isn't over and God isn't done.
  • 00:56:11
    I want you to take out that little piece of paper
  • 00:56:14
    that you were given when you walked in.
  • 00:56:16
    It looks like this.
  • 00:56:18
    If you are joining us online, any --
  • 00:56:21
    really any piece of paper will do.
  • 00:56:23
    This one you can collect four weeks of advent
  • 00:56:27
    and you will actually end up with an advent wreath of your own
  • 00:56:30
    if you join us every week.
  • 00:56:32
    And this week's says Hope.
  • 00:56:34
    And as we celebrate hope, what I want you to do
  • 00:56:36
    is I want you to turn that card over.
  • 00:56:40
    Because I want you to write something on the back.
  • 00:56:45
    I want you to write on the back just a word or two,
  • 00:56:49
    a word or a phrase that represents for you
  • 00:56:52
    that place where maybe you've stopped believing
  • 00:56:55
    that a good ending is possible.
  • 00:57:00
    Maybe you've run out of hope.
  • 00:57:05
    And that's the place I want you to bring to the Good King.
  • 00:57:11
    I want you underneath that to write the words of Psalm 39:7.
  • 00:57:18
    Psalm 39:7 says:.
  • 00:57:31
    You could even write just the words, "My hope is set on you."
  • 00:57:40
    When Jesus came into this world, God announced,
  • 00:57:46
    "This is the Good King who makes good endings possible."
  • 00:57:52
    Let me pray for yours.
  • 00:57:55
    Father, we trust You as the bringer of hope.
  • 00:58:00
    And I know that every single thing that was written
  • 00:58:02
    or thought in the last minute or so,
  • 00:58:05
    you already know how You're going to bring a good ending.
  • 00:58:10
    We ask that You would hear that
  • 00:58:12
    and that You would do that in our own lives.
  • 00:58:15
    And it's in the name of Jesus I ask for this.
  • 00:58:18
    Amen.
  • 00:58:21
    We're going to light the candle of hope together now.
  • 00:58:27
    And as we do this, I really want you to just have in your heart
  • 00:58:32
    and in your mind the thing that you wrote down.
  • 00:58:36
    Because my prayer for us through the Advent season is that somehow,
  • 00:58:41
    some way God would kind of relight that flame.
  • 00:58:44
    That something would burn in you that believes
  • 00:58:47
    a good ending is possible where there just wasn't an hour ago.
  • 00:58:52
    Let's light the candle of hope.
  • 00:59:11
    I want to invite you right now
  • 00:59:13
    just to stand up with us one last time.
  • 00:59:15
    We're just going to sing a few words together
  • 00:59:18
    to help that kind of sink in as deep as it can go right now.
  • 00:59:26
    Father, make us the people of hope.
  • 00:59:30
    Light the flame of hope in our heart
  • 00:59:32
    this Advent season like it never has before.
  • 00:59:36
    Help us to trust Your Son, the Good King,
  • 00:59:41
    for our good ending.
  • 00:59:43
    Amen.
  • 00:59:46
    - I hope that you're enjoying this series so far.
  • 00:59:49
    Share it with a friend
  • 00:59:50
    and download the Crossroads app if you don't have it already.
  • 00:59:53
    All kinds of good stuff in there for you
  • 00:59:55
    to experience Christmas and experience God all week long.
  • 00:59:58
    We'll see you next week.
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Welcome to the Weekend Follow Up.

  1. We are officially in the Christmas season. What are you most hopeful for this holiday season?

  2. The holidays can be one of the most chaos filled times of the year. Why do you think hope is so important for us during this season?

  3. John 8:12 Jesus calls himself the light of the world and says that whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. Talk about ways that you’ve seen Jesus light up paths in your life.

  4. Hope is the belief that a good ending is possible. Have you ever asked God to come into that place in your life and bring hope? What was the outcome of that situation?

  5. If we are honest, we all struggle to some degree to maintain hope when life feels like chaos. Where is a current struggle in your life that you need real hope?

  6. Pray: Everyone say a prayer for each person in the specific areas they shared this week.

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Nov 30, 2019

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