Joy | Advent: Week 3

Joy isn’t just a happy, warm feeling in our bellies, it’s a powerful act of defiance against despair and discouragement.

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    Merry Christmas.
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    We're so glad to have you joining us here at Crossroads online.
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    My name's Lena Schuler, the Crossroads Anywhere Community Pastor.
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    I hope you like my attire right now.
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    I'm here with my dad and boss and friend, Brian Tome.
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    - Hey, it's great to be with everybody right now.
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    I'm admiring your look.
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    It's very, very impressive.
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    - I do.
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    - My sweater says bundle of joy, which is twofold.
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    One, I'm pregnant with a bundle of joy.
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    And two, we're talking about joy this week.
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    So one of the things that I thought would give us some joy is if you looked like me.
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    - I'm not going to look like you.
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    why I look like you.
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    - Ironically, I look like you, which is funny.
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    But I actually brought you something.
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    - Yes.
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    - We know how much you love Peanut, your dog.
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    - I do love Peanut.
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    Who doesn't love Peanut?
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    Everyone loves Peanut.
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    So I thought that you could have fun today.
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    - We right now should have a little picture, real life picture of Peanut coming up right now.
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    - All right. Good.
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    - So it's ugly Christmas sweater weekend.
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    And we got you a very festive sweater with a dog like Peanut.
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    - That does look like Peanut.
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    - Yes, I know, so it's the perfect sweater for you.
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    Which means I think you should put it on.
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    - You want me to wear it?
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    - All right, that's fine.
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    - While you put that on, it is ugly Christmas sweater weekend across all of our sites.
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    And people all over the country are wearing ugly Christmas sweaters right now.
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    So we wanted to participate, too, as a church because we can.
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    And I can't stop looking over here because you look so funny.
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    I like it. I like it.
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    I got I got Peanut nice and close to my heart here.
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    I got a little, all kinds of stuff going on here.
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    - But it really -- the black shirt really play well with the fuzzy neckline.
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    - I have to have that on or else my trap are just like bam, bam.
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    And like it would blow out Christmas holiday tubes in every TV all across our nation.
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    - Holiday tubes?
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    - Yeah. OK.
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    Well, I think that you need to complete your outfit with a headband just to make it really real.
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    Man, you've never looked better.
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    - I am Christmas, man. All Christmas, all the time.
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    This is very fun.
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    But it's one things that we want to be about as a church, we want to be fun.
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    - We need to be able to laugh at ourselves.
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    We ought to be able do stupid things.
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    The world is taking itself way too seriously.
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    Everyone's on edge and everyone's like wondering what's happening.
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    Hey, how about we just relax?
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    All of us, in fact, let's do an inhale and exhale together.
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    One, two, three. [inhales]
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    Let's just live a little lightly, and if that means wearing a stupid, ugly sweater.
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    Although this one isn't that ugly, because whatever Peanut is on, nothing is ugly.
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    - You do jingle a little.
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    [laughs] Great.
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    Speaking of living lightly, last week you helped us do that in talking about peace.
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    - Peace. Yeah.
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    - In this Advent series we're in today and today, we're talking about joy.
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    Why are we in an Advent series to begin with?
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    - So Advent is somethein that's been around for, gosh, probably 1500 years.
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    Followers of Jesus have been doing this wreath in some way, shape, or form.
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    We're looking at key elements of what Jesus brings to us.
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    Of course, Christmas is about the world having Jesus brought to them.
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    And so these four key elements, character qualities of the advent or the arrival of are critical.
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    So first week was hope.
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    Second week was peace.
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    This week is going to be joy.
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    But yeah, peace.
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    I realize with these things that we're looking at,
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    we're not going to get these anywhere else in the world.
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    ABC Nightly News, CNN, Fox News, they're not interested in giving you hope or joy or peace.
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    We can't find these things anywhere other than in Jesus.
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    And that's what Christmas is about.
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    It's about Him.
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    So I've been pretty stoked about what's been happening in this series so far.
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    - That's right.
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    And the Advent series comes to a close on Christmas Eve
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    where we have services happening in all of our locations
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    and right here online on Christmas Eve at 1 p.m.,
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    3 p.m., 5 p.m.
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    And then we go On-Demand after that.
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    And we're gonna be live right here at Crossroads Oakley for the service.
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    And it's gonna be great.
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    The other thing that we do at Christmas
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    that we've done as a church for years and years has been Awaited.
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    So let's see a little bit of what Awaited looks like
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    to just get you excited about what you could experience this Christmas.
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    Awaited: a beloved holiday tradition experienced by over half a million people.
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    Feel the wonder, the joy, and the hope of the holidays.
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    Experience the traditional Christmas story brought to life in a completely new way.
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    Coming to the Aronoff Center, visit
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    Well, that video right there is nostalgic for me
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    because it's part of how I've celebrated Christmas for the last 12 years.
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    And I'm excited that we get to do it again together as a family this year.
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    So you can head to
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    to get tickets today
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    if you're gonna be in the greater Cincinnati area.
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    And today, we are celebrating together the Advent of Joy.
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    Jesus offers us a life of joy.
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    A baby born in the city of Bethlehem 2000 years ago
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    came for the shepherds, came for the Kings.
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    He was sent for you and for me.
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    A rescuer sent to save the world from itself.
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    Jesus, the King, came so that every single one of us,
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    shepherds and sheep alike, could have a chance at a full, thriving life.
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    When we say yes to this life of joy He brings, gratitude bubbles over in to praise.
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    Today we joyfully celebrate the one who brings us life.
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    - Well, nothing says joy like an ugly sweater.
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    Well, hey, my name's Justin.
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    Welcome to Ugly Sweater Weekend here at Crossroads.
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    Some of ya'll didn't get the memo, but some of ya'll did right down here, right?
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    So make some noise in the place if you're rocking an ugly sweater.
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    [cheers] There you go.
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    Hey, can we give it up for the band?
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    Show some love to the band.
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    I mean, they went all out, like Hannah and Sophie.
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    Ya'll showed some dedication, some dedication there.
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    Well, hey, we like to laugh a lot around here and have fun.
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    We don't take ourselves too seriously.
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    So go ahead and stand up.
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    If you're at home or online or at a coffee shop, man, turn it up, lean in with us.
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    We're going to sing together about the joy that we have and about the One who gives us that joy.
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    So, we're glad you're here. Let's sing together.
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    - Yes, joy to the world.
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    That's right.
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    It's ugly sweater weekend.
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    I'm in it to win it.
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    In it to win it.
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    Some pretty sad sacks up here.
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    I'm not -- Sophie, that's not too bad.
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    It says sweater, not the thing you sleep in at night.
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    A sweater.
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    Are you married?
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    - That's why, right there.
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    That's exactly why right there.
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    What is up with the Bengals?
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    This is not a Bengal's sweater thing.
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    It's a Christmas sweater.
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    Oh, do we have to hug right now?
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    I'm so sorry, sweetie.
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    That's one of my -- That's one of my --
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    That's one of my love languages is verbal abuse.
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    Sophie knows that.
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    Hey, this song, Joy The World is actually my favorite Christmas song.
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    And Chuck is going to be talking about it in a little bit, the concept of joy.
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    Joy is not happiness.
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    Happiness is when good things are happening.
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    Joy is something that is much deeper, much wider, and much more unexpected than that.
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    It's not dependent on what's going on around us.
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    It's dependent on God and being in connection with Him.
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    The Book of Romans 15:13, it says this:
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    And the God of all hope fill you with joy, fill you.
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    And we need hope when things aren't going that great in our lives.
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    Some of us have lives that are going just as we planned
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    or even better than we planned, it all good.
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    All good.
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    Some of us have lives that are just, they're not going as we planned.
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    It's not all good.
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    And yet Joy is an equal gift that God can give to all of us,
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    He can fill all of us with.
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    In the book of 2 Corinthians 7:4 it says:
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    Well, what kind of afflictions might those be?
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    It might be in my credit card debt I am filled with joy.
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    In my separation I'm filled with joy.
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    In my infertility I'm filled with joy.
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    In my dead end job I'm filled with joy.
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    In my loneliness I am filled with joy.
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    In my frustration I am filled with joy.
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    Joy is something that God gives us, just like He gives us His Son.
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    The key line I love in this song is make Him room.
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    You and I have to make a decision whether or not we will make room for Jesus.
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    We have to make a decision whether we will make room for Him and His joy.
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    And when we do and His joy fills our lives,
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    no circumstance that we're dealing with can stand against the joy of God.
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    So God, I pray that we would have joy today, You'd fill us with joy.
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    We want to sing this song right now to train ourselves to have joy.
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    We pray these things in Your name.
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    Let me pray for us.
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    God, I thank you.
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    You put joy in a deeper place than just up on the surface.
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    Like the things that I can just, I don't know,
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    the things that are easy they're not often the best for me.
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    The things that dwell deep down inside,
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    that come with searching and even come with pain.
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    I dig down deep and find this treasure that is joy and hope and peace and love.
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    That's when I come alive.
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    That's what I recognize there's something bigger than me happening.
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    There's something deeper going on.
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    I thank You and I sing to You because of that.
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    So thank You for movement.
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    Thank You for some sweaters and some laughter
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    and some joy in the midst of what we face right now.
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    God, we love You and I love You.
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    And I thank you for Jesus, for showing us what joy, what life looks like.
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    I pray this way because of You.
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    Jesus, Amen.
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    - Christmas songs are actually opportunity for us to worship.
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    And one of the most worshipful moments I've had
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    in the midst of Christmas songs was a few years ago at Awaited.
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    So I brought my friends Meghan and Lauren with me to Awaited one year.
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    And at the end we're standing and we're singing Joy to the World.
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    And my friend Megan just has tears streaming down her face.
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    And so it ends and I'm kind of wondering like what's happening here?
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    And so I just asked her, I said, "Hey, what'd you think?
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    It seems like you're feeling something new right now."
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    She looked at me and she said, "I never knew that that was what Christmas was about."
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    She said, "This changes everything."
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    Which I chuckled at a little bit because that line,
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    "This changes everything," is actually part of the Awaited show.
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    And she meant it wholeheartedly.
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    The joy I had in that moment of knowing that Jesus just broke into Megan's life
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    in a new and fresh way was unlike anything else
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    that I get to feel anywhere else during my week
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    or during my year or during work or during any of the other parts of life.
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    And so I had such joy seeing Meghan receive Jesus.
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    And I believe that God had such joy seeing Megan receive His Son Jesus
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    through the church because He loves His church.
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    And so if you want to give to the church,
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    you can do that by heading to
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    And I do that because I love seeing how my friends are meeting Jesus in the midst of Crossroads.
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    And today we're going to head right into the Advent of joy.
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    - Thanks for being at Crossroads.
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    It is ugly sweater weekend and I'm in it to win it.
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    I mean, when I saw this sweater, I said, "I have to get this.
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    This is my Christmas sweater."
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    I mean, when your name is in the Christmas sweater, you know it's time to buy that thing.
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    So people have asked me, like, did you custom order that?
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    No, I actually just did a search.
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    And when I saw fa la la la Mingo, I said, that is fa la la la my Christmas sweater.
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    Doing that thing.
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    It's a joyful time.
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    It's been fun to see people online and in our sites and locations wearing their ugly sweaters.
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    All of the community pastors have gotten in on the action.
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    So we've got a bunch of my teammates, my community pastor teammates in their sweaters.
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    I love this one right here.
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    I don't know if you can see this or not.
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    This is Josh Wade from Uptown.
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    He's got Mike Tyson in the middle of a sweater saying "Merry Chrithmith."
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    [laughter] That's good. That's really good.
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    And we've got other community pastors from all of our locations that got in on the action.
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    You'll be seeing those pictures scrolling.
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    Now, here's here's the thing.
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    You might think you have the ugliest Christmas sweater.
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    If that's the case, we want you to tag us @crdschurch in your Instagram story.
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    Who knows? We might put that into our full national feed.
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    And we will share your ugliness with the rest of the world.
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    So I'm just telling you, this is a great opportunity for you
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    to represent your ugly Christmas sweaters.
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    So all of these are my teammates doing this.
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    But I want to pause here because
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    I am really excited about this community pastor who does slay.
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    Her name is Vicki Diller
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    and very soon she's going to be launching our 13th site, Crossroads Columbus.
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    Can we hear it for Crossroads Columbus?
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    Yes, man, I'm excited about this for a bunch of reasons.
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    I'm always excited when we open a new location.
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    It is a really big deal.
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    We believe that God has called us as a church
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    to reach people where they are and to expand the message of Jesus.
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    And we think we have a unique language and dialect and how we do that.
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    And so I'm excited that people in Columbus will have a Crossroads
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    that they can jump in and be a part of.
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    I'm also very, very excited because Vicki is leading this camp.
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    Vicki is someone who I've known for years.
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    Actually, Vicki used to babysit my wife and I's children.
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    She lived right behind us.
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    And so I got to watch her and her husband, Tony,
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    kind of grow in their marriage, grow as followers of Jesus.
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    In fact, she used to be on our Oakley team here leading our Kids' Club team.
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    And so I have just seen her blossom and she's an incredible leader.
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    And I am so excited for her to be leading Crossroads Columbus.
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    And so you might know people in the Columbus area, you might have friends or family.
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    And we want them to know that we're coming to their neighborhood.
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    So, if you go to,
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    you will find information
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    and tools that you can use to encourage your friends
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    to be a part of the Crossroads Columbus launch.
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    And so I'm going to jump in today to our message on joy.
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    As I do that, I want to pray specifically, I'm going to pray for the Columbus launch.
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    Let's do that together.
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    God, thank You so much for the team of people in Columbus
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    who have a heart for their neighbors and their friends
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    and who are willing to create space
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    and create a space where they can connect and hear more about You.
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    So, God, I want to pray your blessings on the entire launch team,
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    all of the people who are part of Crossroads Columbus.
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    And God, I want to pray in advance for the people
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    that You're going to reach through that campus,
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    that they would know that there is a God that pursues them
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    and we just get to be on that journey with them.
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    So, God, I pray today as we lean into the idea of joy at Christmas,
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    and specifically at Advent, that You would just speak.
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    That You would connect with the hearts of all of us in all the different places that we are.
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    In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.
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    So Advent has been really cool for my family and I.
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    We've been celebrating it at home, using some cards
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    that kind of everyday give us something to reflect on.
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    And Advent is about anticipation, right?
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    I mean, my kids are excited because every day
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    that we turn a card over means we're a day closer to Christmas.
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    I mean, they're excited about that and they're looking forward to that.
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    Advent is meant to do that.
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    That's part of why we light a different candle every week,
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    because as these candles get brighter,
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    we're reminded of the gifts that Jesus offers us through His coming to Earth.
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    Gifts like hope and peace.
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    And this week, we're talking about the gift of joy.
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    And I don't know if you noticed or not,
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    but one of these four is not like the other.
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    I mean, you got three purple candles.
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    And today we have the defiantly pink candle.
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    We're going to talk about why that's the case.
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    There is something for all of us to learn
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    from this defiantly pink candle on Advent this week.
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    And I don't usually title messages, but I have a title for you today.
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    And it is this: I want to talk about defiant joy.
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    Defiant Joy.
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    I was thinking about this when I thought about the fact
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    that my kids are going to defy me on December 24th.
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    At Christmas Eve, when I say to them,
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    what my wife and I say to them every night, "Hey, guys, time to go to bed."
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    My kids are going to defy me on Christmas Eve.
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    Because they got to be so excited, so anxious about Christmas the next day.
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    So we're going to have to tell them a couple of times,
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    You know, because, you know, it works. Right?
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    Basically, like they go to bed and then this magical thing happens
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    where this man comes into our house and he delivers gifts to our kid.
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    That's actually not what happens, right?
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    But we need them to go to sleep first.
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    So anyway, we need them to go to sleep so we can kind of do the Christmas thing.
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    But my kids are going to defy us, they always do, because they are so excited.
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    And I actually think there's something I can learn from my kids about defiant joy.
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    Something that is embedded in the Christmas story.
  • 00:27:16
    Has it ever struck you that the Christmas story takes place at night?
  • 00:27:20
    I mean, think about it, if you read in Luke about the shepherds.
  • 00:27:23
    When do the angels come to the shepherds?
  • 00:27:25
    They were keeping watch over their flock by night.
  • 00:27:28
  • 00:27:29
    The wise men, the magi see a star.
  • 00:27:31
    They said there's going to be a star that would guide you in the sky.
  • 00:27:34
    A star that clearly they would see more clearly at night.
  • 00:27:38
    The Christmas story happens at night.
  • 00:27:41
    And I think that there's a spiritual reason why that's the case.
  • 00:27:46
    I mean, let me ask you this way.
  • 00:27:47
    If daylight means all is right in the world and nighttime
  • 00:27:53
    represents the turmoil, the tension, some of the challenge of living in the world,
  • 00:27:57
    what time of day would you say it is in human history right now?
  • 00:28:02
    I mean, I think it's night.
  • 00:28:04
    I think all you have to do is flip open your newsfeed
  • 00:28:06
    and you will see evidence that in some ways
  • 00:28:09
    there is a night-ness to the world that we live in.
  • 00:28:12
    That the world itself is at night.
  • 00:28:14
    I think that's because the Bible makes it very clear
  • 00:28:17
    this world has a level of darkness in it
  • 00:28:19
    and it appears to be trending more toward that level of darkness.
  • 00:28:23
    And so in some ways, all joy is defiant joy.
  • 00:28:28
    But this is more personal to me this year than really it's ever been.
  • 00:28:31
    I would say this is a very different Christmas because 2019 for me
  • 00:28:35
    has been a year with a lot of dark nights.
  • 00:28:38
    The dark night of losing a friend and a mentor,
  • 00:28:42
    someone who I loved dearly, Kathy Beechum,
  • 00:28:44
    who many of us were influenced by around here.
  • 00:28:46
    It's been a it's been a year of night, the night of grieving.
  • 00:28:51
    And then just a few months ago in October, I lost my father.
  • 00:28:55
    And so 2019 for me has been a year of a lot of dark nights.
  • 00:29:00
    But not only in the areas of grief, but also just in my personal life.
  • 00:29:04
    There are some things that I thought
  • 00:29:05
    I was going to take more ground on this year and I have not.
  • 00:29:07
    One of them is just eating and my ongoing relationship with food and my weight.
  • 00:29:10
    Like I had some goals this year of where I wanted to be.
  • 00:29:13
    And I'm going to in 2019, actually heavier than I came into the year.
  • 00:29:17
    And I'm like, man, I'm disillusioned by that.
  • 00:29:19
    Then I wrote an article about that called The Gift of Disillusionment
  • 00:29:22
    and what I'm learning through the disillusionment of that this year.
  • 00:29:25
    There's been a lot of night for me and it all kind of culminated for me
  • 00:29:30
    or I would say I had a symbolic experience of what 2019 has been like for me.
  • 00:29:35
    I still do run and I'm glad that I'm able to run.
  • 00:29:38
    And I ran a half marathon a couple of weeks ago
  • 00:29:40
    and it was the slowest one I've ever done.
  • 00:29:43
    I was the third from the last person to get off the course.
  • 00:29:47
    And man, I just was -- it was cold, it was raining.
  • 00:29:50
    And I just said in a lot of ways this feels like 2019.
  • 00:29:53
    It feels like a year where there's been a lot of night.
  • 00:29:56
    Maybe -- Maybe I'm not the only one.
  • 00:29:57
    Maybe there are other people who can relate to that.
  • 00:29:59
    Maybe it hasn't been loss, but maybe it's been,
  • 00:30:01
    man, the night of a rejection letter from a college you really wanted to go to.
  • 00:30:04
    Or maybe it's been the night of a challenge that you can't seem to overcome.
  • 00:30:08
    Maybe it has been the night of a diagnosis that you didn't expect.
  • 00:30:11
    Maybe it's been the night of a relationship
  • 00:30:13
    that you thought was going to move to the next step
  • 00:30:15
    and you're finding that that relationship is no longer a part of your life.
  • 00:30:19
    There is darkness in the world, and oftentimes there's darkness in our life.
  • 00:30:25
    But I believe there's something in this story of Christmas.
  • 00:30:28
    There's something about the Advent of Joy
  • 00:30:31
    that can even penetrate the night of the world and the night of our own lives.
  • 00:30:37
    When Christmas is prophesied 500 or so years before Jesus came,
  • 00:30:41
    these are the words that are used by the prophet Isaiah.
  • 00:30:43
    Isaiah 9:2 says:
  • 00:30:49
    There is this hopefulness that there is coming a day when joy,
  • 00:30:53
    when light is going to break through.
  • 00:30:55
    So one of the verses that I've been leaning into
  • 00:30:58
    and praying regularly in my prayers is Psalm 16:11, which says:
  • 00:31:04
    I've been praying and asking, God, God, give me fullness.
  • 00:31:08
    Give me fullness in the places where I feel empty.
  • 00:31:10
    Give me give me fullness in the places where I'm feeling lost right now.
  • 00:31:14
    Because there's a difference between joy and happiness.
  • 00:31:16
    I'll never feel happy until I get to fullness, right?
  • 00:31:20
    Because happiness is based on happenings.
  • 00:31:22
    And if you're happenings aren't good, you're not going to feel happy.
  • 00:31:25
    But I believe that what God offers us is a full list of joy, no matter what's happening.
  • 00:31:32
    One of the people I've been leaning into and learning from in this season
  • 00:31:35
    where I'm leaning into this kind of defiant joy,
  • 00:31:38
    is a professor from Duke Divinity School who says this about joy:
  • 00:31:48
    Joy is like this defiant pink candle.
  • 00:31:52
    Joy is actually not about a happy mood, but here's the big idea today.
  • 00:31:56
    Joy is the defiant choice to trust God's presence and His light,
  • 00:32:03
    despite the night that might be going on in our lives.
  • 00:32:07
    So when you came in, you probably got one of these green cards.
  • 00:32:10
    I'm going to ask you to go and take that out.
  • 00:32:12
    And if you're tuning in online,
  • 00:32:13
    go ahead and grab your iPhone or your phone and pull up a note.
  • 00:32:18
    If you have a piece of paper, take that.
  • 00:32:19
    Grab a pen.
  • 00:32:20
    We're going to do something.
  • 00:32:21
    We're going to do a joy exercise right now.
  • 00:32:24
    Here's how this is going to work.
  • 00:32:26
    On the back of the card, yours is blank.
  • 00:32:28
    Mine is not blank and yours won't be blank in a minute.
  • 00:32:31
    Because here's what I'd like for you to do with this card.
  • 00:32:34
    I'm gonna give you 60 seconds and I want you to think about
  • 00:32:36
    all the things in your life that bring you joy.
  • 00:32:38
    And I want you to fill this card up.
  • 00:32:41
    I want you to just write down all the things that come to mind.
  • 00:32:43
    It can be things that have brought you joy from years ago.
  • 00:32:46
    It could be people, it could be places, experiences.
  • 00:32:48
    Whatever you put on here is all good.
  • 00:32:51
    60 seconds to fill this card with things that bring you joy.
  • 00:32:55
    Ready? Go.
  • 00:34:01
    All right. All right.
  • 00:34:02
    How many people were able to fill that card up,
  • 00:34:04
    fill it up with a bunch of things that bring you joy?
  • 00:34:06
    Keep that card nearby, we're gonna use it a little bit later.
  • 00:34:12
    Do you ever -- You know, we were playing our Christmas music,
  • 00:34:15
    Angels We Have Heard in between that.
  • 00:34:16
    You ever noticed Christmas is the only holiday that comes with it's own soundtrack?
  • 00:34:21
    And that's not true for any other holiday.
  • 00:34:22
  • 00:34:23
    In fact, there are so many songs connected to the joy of Christmas
  • 00:34:26
    that whole radio stations turn their entire platform over
  • 00:34:30
    and they just play Christmas music all through the season.
  • 00:34:33
    Why is that the case?
  • 00:34:34
    I think it's because that was true for the very first Christmas.
  • 00:34:38
    Luke is one of the writers in the Bible who writes about
  • 00:34:41
    the Christmas story, The Coming of Jesus.
  • 00:34:43
    And in the first two chapters of Luke, there are four songs.
  • 00:34:47
    Including two that are still sung today in churches all around the world,
  • 00:34:53
    sometimes every week, and certainly during Advent.
  • 00:34:55
    And we're gonna look at one of those songs today.
  • 00:34:58
    Because we can go to school on how to have joy
  • 00:35:02
    despite the darkness of our life by leaning into this song.
  • 00:35:05
    This song was actually attributed to, I think, the baddest female in the Bible.
  • 00:35:09
    She's a rock star.
  • 00:35:10
    She's a hidden legend story.
  • 00:35:12
    She's kind of the key person in the Christmas story besides Jesus himself.
  • 00:35:16
    Her name is Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus.
  • 00:35:20
    And Mary has a song in the middle of the Christmas story that is about her joyfulness.
  • 00:35:26
    But let me give you some context on who she was.
  • 00:35:28
    I mean, we can we can gloss over this because all the pictures we see
  • 00:35:31
    of Mary show her very tranquil and very peaceful and all of that.
  • 00:35:35
    And I think she was.
  • 00:35:36
    But we need to understand what Mary found herself a part of in world history.
  • 00:35:41
    First of all, personally, Mary would have been a teenager.
  • 00:35:45
    And she was a teenager who found herself pregnant and unmarried in the first century.
  • 00:35:51
    And particularly in Israel in the first century,
  • 00:35:55
    an offense that could have gotten her killed.
  • 00:35:57
    In fact, we see in the Christmas story that she was almost stoned to death
  • 00:36:01
    because her fiance, she was engaged at the time, knew he didn't get her pregnant.
  • 00:36:06
    And Mary's response was, "No, God got me pregnant."
  • 00:36:09
    Ok. So that could have gone a bunch of different ways for her.
  • 00:36:14
    And so Mary was also very, very poor.
  • 00:36:17
    She would have grown up in a society where
  • 00:36:19
    she was probably making her living with her family, agrarian culture.
  • 00:36:23
    But not only that, she was oppressed.
  • 00:36:25
    She grew up in a time in history where the nation of Israel
  • 00:36:28
    was under the most strong, powerful oppression of the Roman Empire.
  • 00:36:31
    You couldn't find a person more vulnerable.
  • 00:36:34
    You couldn't find a person who could have more night in her life than Mary.
  • 00:36:39
    And yet God chooses Mary to give birth to a son.
  • 00:36:43
    Sends an angel to Mary telling her about this news.
  • 00:36:47
    And then Mary goes to her cousin, Elizabeth.
  • 00:36:50
    And in the midst of telling her cousin Elizabeth
  • 00:36:52
    what God has done for her, we find Mary's song.
  • 00:36:56
    And I want you to hear it, but I don't want you to hear it in my voice.
  • 00:36:59
    I want you to hear it in a voice that
  • 00:37:01
    would have been more akin to the voice and the energy of Mary.
  • 00:37:05
    So this is Mary song from Luke Chapter 1:
  • 00:38:02
    - Do you hear that joyfulness?
  • 00:38:04
    Breaking through the darkness of her life, Mary has a defiant joy.
  • 00:38:08
    She says, My soul magnifies the Lord.
  • 00:38:12
    If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you've heard this as the Magnificat,
  • 00:38:15
    because in Latin, that's the statement for that first thing she says,
  • 00:38:19
    Magnificat, my soul magnifies the law.
  • 00:38:21
    She says, my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.
  • 00:38:26
    And here's the crazy thing.
  • 00:38:27
    Mary's life didn't get any easier after this announcement.
  • 00:38:31
    She still had a husband who would have been able to leave her.
  • 00:38:34
    She still had people looking at her side eye and saying,
  • 00:38:37
    "You are pregnant. How?"
  • 00:38:38
    I mean, she was still in the middle of it.
  • 00:38:40
    There's more night to come in her story.
  • 00:38:43
    There's the night to come when they have to make this long commute
  • 00:38:46
    all the way to the city of Bethlehem, because Caesar decided
  • 00:38:49
    to tax the whole world that he owned and controlled at that time.
  • 00:38:53
    There's the night that would come when Herod,
  • 00:38:55
    another ruler in that time said,
  • 00:38:57
    "Hey, there's a king that's been born, a child king?"
  • 00:39:00
    And decided to slaughter every boy two years and under,
  • 00:39:03
    which caused Mary and Joseph to have to flee to Egypt.
  • 00:39:06
    There was a lot of night still in her life,
  • 00:39:08
    but yet in the midst of that, Mary has a defiant joy.
  • 00:39:12
    And we can learn from her why?
  • 00:39:15
    So one of the things we need to see is that the joy that Christmas brings
  • 00:39:19
    is the defiant joy that defies the darkness of our past.
  • 00:39:23
    It defies the darkness of our past.
  • 00:39:26
    Mary says in verse 46:
  • 00:39:38
    That word, rejoice, means to leap for joy.
  • 00:39:41
    And Mary says, "I'm leaping for joy, because God chose to engage with me
  • 00:39:48
    to bring His plan of redemption into the world."
  • 00:39:52
    That phrase humble estate in some places in the Bible is translated vile or sinful.
  • 00:39:59
    Mary was saying what we all should say,
  • 00:40:02
    "Why would God want to have anything to do with a vile, sinful person like me?"
  • 00:40:09
    The fact that he does made Mary rejoice and it should make us rejoice.
  • 00:40:13
    Here's the deal, Mary knew her past.
  • 00:40:17
    What's in your past?
  • 00:40:19
    I sound like that commercial: What's in your wallet?
  • 00:40:21
  • 00:40:22
    I don't know your past, but I know mine,
  • 00:40:25
    and I can tell you there are vile and sinful things in my past.
  • 00:40:29
    Lying, living a double life, breaking laws, breaking commitments.
  • 00:40:34
    There are all kinds of things that are vile in my past.
  • 00:40:38
    But why can I have a defiant joy at Christmas?
  • 00:40:41
    Because Jesus has come, God did something with my past that you would not expect.
  • 00:40:46
    He defied what my past deserved, and instead of giving me what I deserved, He gave me grace.
  • 00:40:52
    He gave you grace, see because I don't know your past specifically,
  • 00:40:59
    but I do know generally what is true for all of humanity.
  • 00:41:01
    We see it in Ephesians Chapter 2.
  • 00:41:03
    It says:
  • 00:41:07
    The Bible says, apart from God getting involved in our lives,
  • 00:41:11
    we are spiritually dead.
  • 00:41:13
    I was thinking about this. I know this is true.
  • 00:41:16
    And here's how I know it's true.
  • 00:41:17
    You ever think about the things that you know are wrong
  • 00:41:19
    that you don't even have to try hard to do?
  • 00:41:22
    They just naturally come up in you.
  • 00:41:24
    I'll give you one.
  • 00:41:25
    Anybody ever been cut off in traffic
  • 00:41:27
    and you've had to struggle to do a thumbs up?
  • 00:41:31
    No, no, no, no.
  • 00:41:32
    You have to struggle to not let another finger come up out of who you are.
  • 00:41:37
    You have to try, right?
  • 00:41:38
    That just naturally comes. You know why?
  • 00:41:40
    Because there is a default nature that we all have,
  • 00:41:42
    and it is a sinful nature.
  • 00:41:44
    It is a vile nature.
  • 00:41:47
    But thankfully, Ephesians 2:5 says:
  • 00:41:59
    Spiritually alive.
  • 00:42:05
    What does God do with our humble estate?
  • 00:42:07
    What does God do with our vile past?
  • 00:42:09
    You know what God does with your past?
  • 00:42:11
    He gives you grace.
  • 00:42:13
    He offers you forgiveness.
  • 00:42:15
    So I don't know your pass, but I know that God does.
  • 00:42:18
    And that God offers you grace.
  • 00:42:20
    That's why when the angels came and shared this good news with the shepherds,
  • 00:42:24
    they said, "This is good news of great joy for all people.".
  • 00:42:28
    Why? Because, as one theologian put it:
  • 00:42:38
    God offers you a grace that defies your past.
  • 00:42:41
    That's why Jesus was born.
  • 00:42:43
    And because of that, you can have a defiant joy.
  • 00:42:47
    But not only is this joy, a joy that defies our past.
  • 00:42:51
    It's a joy that defies the darkness of our present pain.
  • 00:42:55
    Man, I know in a room this size and people who are gaging it,
  • 00:42:59
    there is present pain in this place.
  • 00:43:02
    That for all of us, Christmas is isn't going to be
  • 00:43:05
    this exciting, fun, wonderful, all of my thoughts are light.
  • 00:43:08
    For some of us, man, there are hard things that we are dealing with this Christmas.
  • 00:43:13
    And I love that the Bible recognizes the tension that we live in in this life.
  • 00:43:17
    That, yes, we can have joy as we lean into the presence of God.
  • 00:43:20
    And life can be hard, we can find ourselves in darkness,
  • 00:43:25
    even in the midst of knowing that God is with us.
  • 00:43:28
    So we find verses in the Bible, like 2 Corinthians 6:10 that say:
  • 00:43:40
    Do you read the tension in that?
  • 00:43:43
    This understanding that, man, you can almost be in both places at the same time.
  • 00:43:47
    But one of them, the joy, can be the thing
  • 00:43:50
    that actually overwhelms and takes over your life.
  • 00:43:53
    Philippians 4:4-5:
  • 00:44:05
    Let me tell you, it is unreasonable to be joyful
  • 00:44:08
    in the midst of the darkness of this world.
  • 00:44:10
    It is unreasonable to be joyful in the midst of the darkness
  • 00:44:13
    you might be experiencing in your life, unless the Lord is at hand.
  • 00:44:19
    Unless hope has come.
  • 00:44:21
    Unless peace has come.
  • 00:44:22
    Unless forgiveness has come and, friends, hope has come.
  • 00:44:25
    Peace has come.
  • 00:44:27
    And forgiveness has come.
  • 00:44:28
    Life has come.
  • 00:44:31
    You know, for me, this -- when I knew I was going to be talking about Joy, I knew this months ago.
  • 00:44:37
    And I was like, "Oh, man, that's great.
  • 00:44:38
    I love talking about joy at Christmas.
  • 00:44:39
    Man, who's not happy at Christmas time?"
  • 00:44:42
    I know differently now being only months from losing a parent.
  • 00:44:49
    I know differently now.
  • 00:44:51
    Grief is a crazy thing, right?
  • 00:44:54
    It comes up when you don't expect it.
  • 00:44:56
    It shows up in ways that you can't control.
  • 00:44:58
    I mean, it's just this uneven -- You're just --
  • 00:45:01
    It's just a thing. You're just walk in through it.
  • 00:45:03
    I'm just walking through it.
  • 00:45:05
    So what does it look like for me to be defiantly joyful in the midst of real grief?
  • 00:45:10
    Because it doesn't mean that I don't grieve.
  • 00:45:12
    But what doe joy look like in the midst of that?
  • 00:45:15
    Well, one of the things that I've done on my green card is
  • 00:45:20
    I have written things that make me joyful because they're gifts from my dad.
  • 00:45:25
    And I know that I'm going to have and have already had
  • 00:45:28
    moments this Christmas where, man, I'm not laughing, I'm not smiling.
  • 00:45:31
    I'm in the middle of whatever I'm feeling and missing him.
  • 00:45:34
    But here's what I do know, it is a gift to miss him because I had him.
  • 00:45:40
    And I know there are many people who wish they had a relationship with their father.
  • 00:45:44
    I'm grateful for the one that I had.
  • 00:45:46
    I'm grateful for all the years that I had it.
  • 00:45:49
    And I don't want to lose that in the midst of the real pain.
  • 00:45:53
    So when that grief comes, I'm feeling it.
  • 00:45:56
    I'm allowing myself to feel it.
  • 00:45:58
    And I'm also taking this card out and reminding myself about gifts from my dad,
  • 00:46:02
    like the fact that he showed me how God can change a life as I watch God change his life.
  • 00:46:07
    My dad showed me what it looks like to keep a covenant,
  • 00:46:10
    because he was married to my mom for 49 years.
  • 00:46:13
    My dad showed me a great work ethic.
  • 00:46:16
    My dad took pride in me.
  • 00:46:18
    My dad protected me.
  • 00:46:20
    He cared enough to correct me.
  • 00:46:23
    One of the things I've been thinking about with laughing is
  • 00:46:25
    that my dad always showed up in my life, usually early.
  • 00:46:30
    And let me tell you, like I don't know if you were this way,
  • 00:46:32
    but when you're a kid and you go to a sleepover or you go to a party,
  • 00:46:36
    you don't want to be the first one picked up.
  • 00:46:38
    Am I right?
  • 00:46:39
    You don't want to be the first one picked up.
  • 00:46:40
    You want to be the last one picked up because you get more time to play and hang out.
  • 00:46:44
    I was always the first kid picked up from every party.
  • 00:46:48
    Because I knew that if the time that my dad was supposed to pick me up was 10:00,
  • 00:46:52
    I knew for sure that if I peeked through the blinds
  • 00:46:54
    or if I looked out the window an hour before the party was over,
  • 00:46:58
    I was going to find my dad parked out front
  • 00:47:00
    reading his Philadelphia Daily News, waiting for the party to end.
  • 00:47:03
    My dad was never late.
  • 00:47:04
    He always showed up.
  • 00:47:06
    Man, you know how good that is, though?
  • 00:47:08
    It's not good when you're a middle schooler.
  • 00:47:10
    Is not good when you're in elementary school.
  • 00:47:12
    But man, when I needed him when I had kids, he always showed up.
  • 00:47:15
    And I'm telling you, I'm recognizing like
  • 00:47:17
    in the midst of the pain of missing him, I have a lot to be joyful around.
  • 00:47:21
    I've got great memories of my dad showing up.
  • 00:47:26
    So, friends, I want to tell you, I know, probably more than I've ever known
  • 00:47:31
    what it's like to live in the tension of joy in the midst of darkness.
  • 00:47:36
    But God offers us a joy that defies the pain that we experience right now.
  • 00:47:42
    Because you know what?
  • 00:47:44
    There's another Father and He always shows up.
  • 00:47:48
    There's a living Father who will be a father to you and He will always show up.
  • 00:47:53
    And like they said in the black church,
  • 00:47:55
    He may not come when you want Him, but he's always right on time.
  • 00:47:59
    So you can be encouraged by that.
  • 00:48:01
    You can have joy in the midst of your present pain.
  • 00:48:03
    But you can also have a joy that defies the promise that there will always be darkness.
  • 00:48:09
    One of the things I think we wrestle with in this world is
  • 00:48:11
    we can think it's always going to be this way.
  • 00:48:13
    It seems like it's always getting worse.
  • 00:48:15
    And I think that's true to a certain degree.
  • 00:48:17
    But thankfully, we're not looking at just what happens in this life.
  • 00:48:21
    There is a hope that we have in Jesus beyond this life.
  • 00:48:25
    And Mary in this song seems to understand that to some degree.
  • 00:48:31
    Let me read this scripture to you from her song.
  • 00:48:33
    She says in Luke 1:54-55:
  • 00:48:47
    Forever. What Mary is doing in this verse is she is reaching back
  • 00:48:53
    through the history of the nation of Israel 2000 years and saying, "God made a promise."
  • 00:48:58
    Actually, she's reaching back even further than that,
  • 00:49:00
    because in the very book of Genesis, right after Adam and Eve fall,
  • 00:49:03
    God says, "I am going to bring someone who will crush the head of the serpent."
  • 00:49:08
    And so she draws back and says,
  • 00:49:10
    "This promise that God made to Abraham is being fulfilled in me."
  • 00:49:14
    Literally in her through her womb as Jesus is being birthed.
  • 00:49:19
    She says, "This promise is not just about what God promised in the past,
  • 00:49:23
    but there is something to this promise that actually points to a future."
  • 00:49:28
    That points to forever.
  • 00:49:32
    Mary saw the present, but she also saw the future promise.
  • 00:49:38
    And so did the baby that she gave birth to.
  • 00:49:42
    Jesus would be born through Mary.
  • 00:49:46
    And for 30 years he walked this earth.
  • 00:49:48
    And during that 30 years he taught about a relationship to God
  • 00:49:52
    that was unlike anything anyone had ever heard.
  • 00:49:54
    People used to say, "We have never heard anyone teach this way with such authority."
  • 00:49:59
    Jesus healed people.
  • 00:50:00
    There were people who could hear after He touched them.
  • 00:50:03
    There were people who could see after He prayed for them.
  • 00:50:06
    There were people who literally would just walk by Him
  • 00:50:08
    and they would say, "Can you heal me?"
  • 00:50:10
    And he would say, "You're done. It's done, go and you'll be healed."
  • 00:50:12
    He walked with such authority, Jesus was present.
  • 00:50:16
    And where He was present, there was joy.
  • 00:50:19
    Where He was present 5000 people got fed on two fish and five loaves of bread.
  • 00:50:24
    When He was present, there was the joy of people who were dead
  • 00:50:28
    that actually were raised from the dead again.
  • 00:50:31
    He brought joy wherever He went.
  • 00:50:34
    Jesus was present, but he didn't just see the present.
  • 00:50:39
    Jesus too saw a future promise.
  • 00:50:42
    In Hebrews 12 it says this:
  • 00:50:58
    After 30 years on this earth of healing,
  • 00:51:01
    33 years of healing and teaching, there were people who didn't like Jesus.
  • 00:51:06
    There were people who said, you know what
  • 00:51:08
    He's saying he's God."
  • 00:51:10
    And that, too, is a death offense.
  • 00:51:13
    And those people eventually decided to crucify Him, decided to bring Him in and crucify Him.
  • 00:51:21
    And Jesus knew, He knew that He had come to this earth for this purpose.
  • 00:51:25
    He knew He had come to this earth for pain.
  • 00:51:27
    He knew He had come to this earth to eventually
  • 00:51:29
    be stretched out on a Cross and be sacrificed.
  • 00:51:32
    He knew that nails were going to go in His hands and His feet.
  • 00:51:34
    He knew that He was going to bleed.
  • 00:51:36
    He knew that a spear was going to pierce His side.
  • 00:51:38
    He knew that a crown of thorns was going to go in his head.
  • 00:51:41
    And in the midst of that, looking at that present pain, Jesus had joy.
  • 00:51:46
    That's what it says in Hebrews.
  • 00:51:47
  • 00:51:48
    Because He was able to look beyond the present pain to see a future promise.
  • 00:51:53
    Because Jesus knew this story doesn't end on Good Friday.
  • 00:51:57
    The story doesn't end with me getting put in a grave.
  • 00:51:59
    This story ends three days later when I'm gonna walk out of that same grave.
  • 00:52:05
    Jesus for the joy set before Him endured the Cross.
  • 00:52:10
    And friends, I want you to know there is an Easter egg.
  • 00:52:13
    There is literally an Easter egg, if you know what that is.
  • 00:52:15
    An Easter egg is something that's like hidden in another meaning.
  • 00:52:17
    And if you discover it, it's a source of joy.
  • 00:52:20
    There is a literal Easter egg in the Advent story.
  • 00:52:23
    And you know what it is?
  • 00:52:26
    It's this pink candle.
  • 00:52:28
    You ever ask yourself, "Why is this candle pink?
  • 00:52:31
    Why is there this one pink candle?"
  • 00:52:32
    Let me tell you why this candle is pink.
  • 00:52:34
    This candle is pink because there is another series
  • 00:52:38
    in the life of the church every year,
  • 00:52:40
    a rhythm that is practiced every year, just like Advent,
  • 00:52:43
    where for six weeks, in this in this case, 40 days.
  • 00:52:46
    There is the sense of repentance.
  • 00:52:47
    There is a sense in some ways of bringing ourselves to the night of our life.
  • 00:52:51
    It's called Lent.
  • 00:52:53
    You know, when you give up chocolate.
  • 00:52:55
    You give up sweets or give up meat, eat fish on Fridays?
  • 00:52:58
    Right, that thing, Lent, right?
  • 00:53:00
    And Lent is a series of repentance where we reflect on our lives
  • 00:53:03
    and reflect on the need for someone to die in our place
  • 00:53:06
    because we reflect on the sinfulness, the vileness,
  • 00:53:08
    the humble state that we have as human beings.
  • 00:53:13
    But on the third week of Lent,
  • 00:53:15
    we take a break from all that fasting and we have a feast.
  • 00:53:19
    This is the way the church has practiced this for thousands of years.
  • 00:53:22
    There is a feast on the third week of Lent because there's a reminder
  • 00:53:25
    that, yes, we're talking about repentance and, yes, we're talking about death.
  • 00:53:29
    But friends, the story of Lent doesn't end on Good Friday.
  • 00:53:32
    It ends on Resurrection Sunday, it ends on Easter.
  • 00:53:35
    So let's not forget that.
  • 00:53:37
    So if you go to a church that practices this on the third week of Lent, you'll see the priest has pink vestments on.
  • 00:53:43
    Part of what they wear is pink.
  • 00:53:47
    Like a pink flamingo, maybe, I don't know.
  • 00:53:48
    Maybe not.
  • 00:53:49
    But there's something pink.
  • 00:53:51
    And so the third week of Advent's candle is pink to remind us
  • 00:53:56
    of the third week of Lent when we celebrate the resurrection.
  • 00:53:59
    Why? Because on the third day, the night of our lives
  • 00:54:04
    turned into an eternal day when Jesus walked out of that grave
  • 00:54:07
    and offered a life that you and I could never get for ourselves.
  • 00:54:11
    That's why that candle is pink.
  • 00:54:13
    That's why we can have a defiant joy in the midst of this Christmas season.
  • 00:54:18
    Because you know what?
  • 00:54:19
    As it says in Psalms 4:
  • 00:54:26
    I don't know what your night looks like.
  • 00:54:27
    I don't know where you're experiencing night.
  • 00:54:29
    But can I just be one person to tell you in the midst of your night,
  • 00:54:33
    your weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
  • 00:54:37
    Joy comes in the morning if you're in a situation
  • 00:54:40
    that looks like night in a relationship.
  • 00:54:41
    Joy comes in the morning if it feels like night right now with your health.
  • 00:54:45
    Joy comes in the morning if it feels like night right now with your family.
  • 00:54:49
    Joy comes in the morning if it feels like night right now with your finances.
  • 00:54:53
    And I don't know who I'm talking to today,
  • 00:54:55
    but you need to know there is joy in the mist of your night.
  • 00:54:59
    And Advent is an opportunity to borrow against that joy
  • 00:55:04
    because God keeps every promise He makes.
  • 00:55:07
    And just like Mary, we need to look back 2000 years.
  • 00:55:10
    And we need to remember that God sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice.
  • 00:55:15
    God kept His promise to be the Savior of the world.
  • 00:55:18
    God kept His promise to be the forgiver.
  • 00:55:20
    God kept His promise and then we need to be able to look forward
  • 00:55:24
    and recognize this celebrates the first Advent.
  • 00:55:28
    But friends, can I tell you, there's another Advent coming.
  • 00:55:31
    In Advent that is spoken of in Revelation, when it says
  • 00:55:35
    there will come a day when He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
  • 00:55:39
    There will come a day when death itself is defeated.
  • 00:55:43
    There will come a day when their joy will never end.
  • 00:55:48
    So here's what I want you to do.
  • 00:55:50
    I want you to take out that card and I want you to hold it up in the air.
  • 00:55:55
    Like you would hold up something defiantly,
  • 00:55:57
    because here's the reality of the joy that Christmas brings.
  • 00:56:00
    This is a defiant joy, friends.
  • 00:56:02
    This is a defiant joy.
  • 00:56:04
    So I don't know what your night looks like,
  • 00:56:06
    but when the night comes, I want you to look at this card and say, "You know what?
  • 00:56:09
    But God has given me joy."
  • 00:56:10
    When your night is being faced,
  • 00:56:12
    I want you to hold this card up and say, "God has giving me joy."
  • 00:56:15
    I want you to read the things on this card.
  • 00:56:17
    want you to rehearse the things on this card, because here's the thing.
  • 00:56:20
    Everything on that card is from God.
  • 00:56:23
    Every person that you put that brings you joy, every situation that you've experienced that brings you joy.
  • 00:56:28
    Every relationship that brings you joy.
  • 00:56:30
    Every time you've been rescued and it brings you joy.
  • 00:56:32
    If you put a healing on there and that gives you joy,
  • 00:56:35
    you need to know all of that is from God.
  • 00:56:38
    The same God that in James 1:17 it says this about:
  • 00:56:51
    There is a light that breaks through every darkness.
  • 00:56:54
    And when you see that light, the way that Mary saw that light,
  • 00:56:57
    you too will say, "My soul magnifies the Lord."
  • 00:57:01
    And I rejoice in the God of my salvation.
  • 00:57:04
    Let's have a defiant joy this Christmas.
  • 00:57:08
    God, I pray that for all of us, for whom our joy has to be defined
  • 00:57:13
    this Christmas for any reason, whether it's financial, relational, physical.
  • 00:57:18
    God, if that's the place that we're in, I pray that you would stir us up to Joy.
  • 00:57:24
    That we would see through the Christmas story how light breaks through the darkness.
  • 00:57:29
    And we would know that that's not just the story that was relegated to Mary,
  • 00:57:33
    but that that's the story of what You're doing in our lives right now.
  • 00:57:37
    May it be the story of what You're doing in our lives.
  • 00:57:39
    May it be the story of what You're doing in our country.
  • 00:57:41
    May it be the story of what You are were doing in the world.
  • 00:57:44
    And may it fill us with Your joy.
  • 00:57:47
    In Jesus' name, Amen.
  • 00:57:52
    Hey, so I think we should light this pink candle, right?
  • 00:57:54
    We're going have some joy.
  • 00:57:55
    I'm going to ask you guys to go ahead and stand up
  • 00:57:57
    and we're gonna sing the defiant song Joy to the World.
  • 00:58:01
    I don't know who this is for, but man,
  • 00:58:03
    maybe somebody this needs to be your Christmas song.
  • 00:58:06
    You need to put this on automatic play.
  • 00:58:08
    You need to put it on repeat.
  • 00:58:09
    You need to just tell yourself that
  • 00:58:10
    I can have a defiant joy no matter what I'm facing.
  • 00:58:12
    Let's sing this together.
  • 00:59:31
    - Hopefully you feel a little bit more joy today as a result
  • 00:59:34
    of the last hour and that you go into your next week full of joy.
  • 00:59:40
    Join us next week for the Advent of Love.
  • 00:59:42
    And don't forget about Christmas Eve services
  • 00:59:45
    happening right here online and at a location near you.
  • 00:59:48
    You can head to
  • 00:59:50
    to see the times and places that that's happening.
  • 00:59:52
    And we'll see you next week for the Advent of Love.

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. Whether it’s four candles and a wreath, or one of those new sweet lego calendars there’s a bunch of traditions that happen over the holiday season. What’s your favorite Christmas time tradition?

  2. Joy can feel like a big, vague idea. Let’s start unpacking that. First, how would you define joy?

  3. Now that we’ve defined joy, what are some things that bring it you and why? (Protip: think back to what you wrote on that green card or your phone during service.)

  4. Defiant joy is to trust God’s presence and light in the midst of darkness. Easy to say, tougher to do. Read Isaiah 9:2 out loud talk about where you might be “walking in darkness” right now?

  5. Pray: Help your group find that defiant joy. Take a moment and pray for joy and light in the places where your folks are walking through darkness.

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Dec 14, 2019 38 mins 50 sec

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