Changing Your Unchangeable Spirit

We all long to believe redemption is possible, but so often our life experiences tell us otherwise. The Christmas Story promises the lasting change that feels like a fairy tale - if you’re willing to open yourself up to the work God wants to do in your life. He offers you the invitation; all you have to do is say yes.

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    - Welcome to Crossroads.
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    I'm Andy and merry Christmas.
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    This is the last week
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    of our Christmas at the Movies series,
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    and today we're going to be hearing from Chuck Mingo.
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    Now, this time of year, it is filled with hope and joy,
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    but it can also easily turn into stress and chaos.
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    That's why it's important that we focus our attention on Jesus.
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    He is the source of our peace,
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    and when we worship Him, we're setting aside
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    our priorities and putting Him first in our lives.
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    These songs can be really helpful tools
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    to lean into that peace and to put Jesus first.
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    - I don't know about you,
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    I needed a little breath today
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    amidst all the craziness, chaos,
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    amidst like three of my kids puking
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    in the last two weeks.
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    I'm fine, I promise. I've been to the doctor.
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    But like, all the chaos,
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    I just needed a little breath.
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    I love that song and that version of that song,
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    because it starts and it feels like a lullaby. Am I right?
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    How many of you fell asleep for a second?
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    You got a minute? It's been a long day, right?
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    The song starts like it's a lullaby
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    written for a little baby,
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    and it's this cute, quaint night.
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    And it ends like it was written for a king, sung to a king.
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    And I could even watch in this space,
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    and maybe the same at home, like, as the song started,
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    I saw multiple of you just sort of
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    tilt your head to the side
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    like you would for a lullaby, like, oh.
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    I need a cellist to follow me around in life.
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    And then by the end, I just saw hands go up like this.
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    Response made for a king.
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    Here's who the baby is, written in Isaiah 9:6.
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    For to us a child is born,
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    and to us a son is given.
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    Authority rests upon his shoulders,
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    and he's named Wonderful Counselor,
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    Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
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    I don't know about you, and I don't think
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    anyone told me this when I was young,
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    but here's how I grew up thinking about Jesus.
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    I thought God's name was distant,
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    angry, and disappointed.
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    But the Bible and the Christmas story remind us
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    that his name is wonderful counselor.
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    His name is with us.
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    His name is Emmanuel,
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    who comes to dwell among us and be with us.
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    Every week in the month of December,
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    the lines for prayer after service
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    get longer and longer.
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    For many of you, this is the season of pain and chaos.
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    But what those lines represent
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    and what happens in my heart when I open up
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    to Him in a song like that,
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    or a song like this one we're going to sing is,
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    I say, I got this little crown.
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    For me, it represents control, security, fear.
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    And when I open myself up to Him,
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    or when I get in line for prayer after service
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    and say, "God, I need help," I say this.
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    I want to turn to the Prince of Peace
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    and lay my little crown down and say,
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    "I don't want security or control or fear anymore,
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    or chaos."
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    I turn to a king who can actually help and say,
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    "Would you help me?"
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    That's the king I want to surrender to.
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    That's the king I want to make space for.
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    That's the king I want to remember in this season:
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    Wonderful counselor, mighty God,
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    everlasting father, Prince of Peace.
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    And He's with us. Amen.
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    - When we make room, we make room for joy.
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    We make room for You to come into our minds
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    and come into our emotions and actually bring joy.
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    Not the, like, fake stuff we see on Hallmark movies,
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    though those aren't bad.
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    Not the fake stuff, Lord,
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    but the real joy that comes from you.
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    The joy from the Spirit.
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    The joy of new life in You.
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    Would You give us an extra dose of that
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    the rest of the year, as we make space for You
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    to speak to us and make space for You
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    to come into our lives in a new and fresh way.
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    Would you bring joy in that, Lord? Bring joy.
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    We're thankful. Thankful for all You've done.
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    We say Amen.
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    Anybody thankful, a little bit more thankful today
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    than you were when you walked in?
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    Hey, why don't you go head back to your seat,
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    tell somebody hey,
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    give them a big hug if they're down for that.
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    If they're not, don't force them.
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    - Christmas doesn't have to be like this.
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    2000 years ago, a baby king changed the world forever.
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    Discover the real story of Christmas
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    and what it means for your life today.
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    - Christmas is about God breaking through
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    to take you and I spiritually
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    to a place that we can't naturally go.
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    - Start a new tradition this Christmas
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    with Crossroads Church.
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    - Hey, if you're like me,
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    you've still got some Christmas shopping to do.
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    And I mean like a lot of Christmas shopping
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    and the holidays can feel chaotic, right?
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    But it doesn't have to be that way.
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    Christmas can be a time of joy and hope,
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    and that's what we want for you this Christmas.
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    Our Christmas Eve service will do just that,
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    and it'll be available to watch anytime on demand
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    starting this Friday, December 22nd at 5 p.m.
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    Starting tomorrow, you can join in
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    the Christmas Story through the Crossroads Anywhere app.
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    Download the app and you can have
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    an interactive experience that will take you
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    on a journey to discover the real Christmas story
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    and what it means for your life today.
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    Now, Crossroads is a generous church
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    filled with generous people,
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    and over the last few months,
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    we've stepped up to donate over 13,000 gifts
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    through the Christmas Gift Drive.
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    And these gifts have gone to families
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    who wouldn't otherwise have had Christmas gifts,
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    and specifically to help incarcerated parents
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    be the hero and give a gift to their kids this Christmas.
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    I actually got to see this firsthand just yesterday.
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    It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
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    Like, it was this beautiful picture
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    of what Christmas is,
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    which is light coming in the midst of darkness.
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    And I just love that example.
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    And I love that, man, all year long
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    our church has examples of light showing up in the darkness.
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    We did 10,000 meals at Thanksgiving.
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    We gave $125,000 to humanitarian relief
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    for both Israelis and Palestinians suffering in Gaza,
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    and we made space for our friends and neighbors
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    to hear about Jesus and so many more things.
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    All those things and so much more happened
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    because Crossroads is a nonprofit.
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    All the money that comes in
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    goes right back out to make an impact.
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    And like a lot of nonprofits,
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    end of year giving is really important.
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    And so if you're considering making a year end gift,
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    I just ask that you remember your local church.
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    Now, when we give, we're just being like God.
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    He is way more generous with me
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    than I could ever be with Him.
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    If you want to join the team of faithful givers
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    who make stuff happen around here,
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    or have questions around where our money goes,
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    just head to crossroads.net/give.
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    Now, today we're in our last week
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    of Christmas at the Movies, and Chuck is going
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    to be doing a little dance to kick us off.
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    I have to see this.
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    - Christmas at the movies
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    is perfect with some coffee.
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    Don't need that ring-a-ling,
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    ding-a-dong, ding-a-ding, talking.
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    So if we see the glow
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    of cellular telephone
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    will take 'em and we'll break 'em,
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    and we won't say we were mistaken.
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    You've been warned.
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    Merry Christmas.
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    [clock ticking]
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    [clock chiming]
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    [bell music: Jingle Bells]
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    [upbeat music: Jingle Bells]
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    - Merry Christmas.
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    That was too much fun.
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    I have to say that was a whole lot of fun
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    and I am so glad to be with you.
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    Merry Christmas, Crossroads.
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    Oh, man. If you are just coming for this first week,
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    we have been in a series called Christmas at the Movies,
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    and so you probably knew that
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    from the popcorn or wherever you are.
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    If you're at home, hopefully you can get some popcorn too.
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    Um, but yes, we've been looking at
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    what are the transcendent messages that we can learn
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    from Christmas movies, which I'm sure, like me,
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    you're watching a lot of this time of year.
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    But first I have to tell you, the Christmas spirit
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    has hit our church in a big way because
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    I think Christmas is one of the times of year
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    when Crossroads is at its best, because
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    there's such generosity that flows from this place.
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    So, for instance, we just wrapped up
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    our Christmas Gift Drive.
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    This is something we do every year to provide gifts
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    for children who may not otherwise receive a gift,
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    including several children who have family members
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    who are incarcerated.
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    And I just got the latest numbers here.
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    13,000 kids have gifts because of the generosity
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    of this community over the Christmas Drive.
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    Give yourselves a hand. Seriously.
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    Amazing, amazing.
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    And over a thousand volunteers made all of that happen.
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    And that is the spirit of Christmas at play in our church.
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    So as we start today, I just want to pray
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    from a place of gratitude for you,
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    for your generosity,
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    and for what it reflects about the heart of God.
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    So, God, I just thank you for every person
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    who leaned in and was generous.
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    And for those of us who just recognize
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    that You've been generous to us
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    and want to respond in kind.
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    God, I know that just pleases Your heart.
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    And also, God, I believe that in that
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    even story of the the gift drive
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    is really Your heart for us today.
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    So I pray that we would receive a gift,
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    that in this time that we spend together,
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    we would receive the gift of Your presence here,
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    we would each receive the gift of
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    a specific word that You have for us.
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    And I pray all of this in Jesus name, Amen.
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    Well, it feels right after prayer to confess, Um,
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    and I just have to start in an honest place
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    that I lied to our church.
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    I said last year, if you were here,
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    that if we did Christmas at the Movies again in 2023,
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    I would preach on the movie Die Hard,
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    which is absolutely a Christmas movie. Am I right?
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    Amen. There's a little bit of divide on that.
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    I get it, I get it.
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    Um, but here's what I have to tell you.
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    I talked to Brian about this,
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    and between him and me and Alli,
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    one of us is going to --
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    I think it should be Alli, personally,
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    because she's really passionate about this.
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    I really think Alli should do it.
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    But if not, one of us is going to preach on Die Hard
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    if we do Christmas at the Movies in 2024.
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    You have my word on it. You have my word on it.
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    So I will not have to confess a sin
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    to start my message next year.
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    I've already started to think about the themes
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    that I can find from Die Hard,
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    but today I've picked a different movie.
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    I picked the movie Spirited.
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    And if you're not familiar with that movie,
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    it's a new take on the Charles Dickens classic
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    A Christmas Carol.
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    And in the Spirited version of it,
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    Will Ferrell actually is Ebenezer Scrooge,
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    and Ryan Reynolds is kind of
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    the next level Scrooge like character.
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    And I don't want to give away any spoilers,
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    but it's a really good movie.
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    And I tell you why I like it.
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    I like it because at its heart,
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    it's a redemption story.
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    I don't know what kind of movies make you misty eyed
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    in the theater, at home, man.
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    You want to get me to tear up and well up,
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    show me a good redemption story
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    and it will get me every time.
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    I love stories of redemption.
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    It's one of the reasons why we're inviting people
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    to come and be here for our Christmas services,
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    because Christmas is a redemption story.
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    I know people are like, "Hey, I've been watching
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    the Bengals game and all of a sudden
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    I see a commercial for Crossroads.
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    What's up with that?"
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    Well, what's up with that is
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    I think about the Christmas story
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    and how God pulled out all the stops
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    and had angels show up to tell people
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    the good news of the redemption story of Jesus coming.
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    And we feel the same way as a church.
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    We want to validate that invitation
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    as you're asking someone.
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    We want you to invite someone to service
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    who sits down and watches a Bengals game
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    and says, "Hey, that's the same church
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    that my friend or my family member just invited me to."
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    So we're praying that God would leverage that
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    for your invitation and that many people
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    would get to experience, maybe in a fresh way,
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    this redemption story called Christmas.
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    Because that's what Christmas is,
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    Christmas is a redemption story.
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    But here's the problem.
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    Here's the problem with so many redemption stories,
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    we long to believe that redemption is possible.
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    We really want to believe that.
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    But am I the only one that looks at
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    the evidence of my life and the world around me,
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    and sometime have to ask the question,
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    is redemption possible?
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    Have you ever found yourself asking the question:
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    do people really change?
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    So this opening scene that we're going to look at from
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    Spirited really just raises that question to the surface,
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    and we'll find out that one of the lead characters
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    kind of has a point of view on that,
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    that maybe you share as well. Let's watch this.
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    - Do people really change?
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    I mean, real, lasting, positive change?
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    I sure hope so,
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    because we are in the business of change.
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    Now, that's not a cheery start
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    to a Christmas movie, is it?
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    Kind of ominous, but so is that question
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    when you think about the evidence around us.
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    But today, what we're going to look at
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    is the fact that for all of the ways that
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    we struggle to believe that redemption is possible,
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    in the Christmas story, God breaks down those barriers.
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    And I'm praying that he breaks down
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    those barriers for you as we go through this time today.
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    Because here's the deeper issue
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    when it comes to redemption, I long to believe
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    that redemption is possible for everyone,
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    because I long to believe
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    that redemption is possible for me.
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    I have found myself asking this question
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    over and over again this year,
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    just like every year of my life in certain areas.
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    Will I ever change? Will I ever change?
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    I mean, you know, I gained 25 pounds from COVID
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    and I have done some things this year
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    very intentionally with exercise and diet
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    to change the trajectory of that.
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    And I'm down a whopping 3 pounds in like multiple months.
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    That's not great. No, you don't clap at that.
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    I've been working hard
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    and that's all I have to show for it.
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    I'm asking the question: will I really ever change?
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    But I do appreciate your encouragement.
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    I need it, I need it, but I want more.
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    I mean really, will I change?
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    Will there be this kind of change?
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    I think about how I'm still battling
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    the same demons that I've been battling for years
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    in certain areas of my life,
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    and I asked the question: will I ever change?
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    And I'm guessing I'm not alone.
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    Our hearts ache for redemption.
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    They really do. They long for it.
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    I think a lot of us want to live a life
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    that's more free than ours is.
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    We want to love more fully
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    than maybe we find ourselves able to do.
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    We want to change.
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    And the story of Christmas says change is possible
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    redemption is possible.
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    But our belief in that truth
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    faces three very real barriers.
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    The first is weariness.
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    There's just a weariness that comes with
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    the constant barrage of negative news
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    and bad news and toxic social media feeds.
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    It really messes with our psyche and our belief
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    about whether or not change is possible.
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    So later on in the story of Spirited, Clint Briggs,
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    who's the Ryan Reynolds Scrooge character modern day,
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    he has a point of view, a world view
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    that people never change. And he's a cynic.
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    And you can look at that and say,
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    "Oh my gosh, what a terrible way to live."
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    But as you watch this clip, I just want you to see
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    if what he says, even though we want to believe
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    that we can change and we know that we've seen people change,
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    there's still something about what he's saying
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    that just kind of digs at
  • 00:26:51
    whether or not change is really possible.
  • 00:26:53
    Let's watch this second clip together.
  • 00:26:56
    - By the end of the afternoon. - Easy. - Easy. Yeah.
  • 00:27:00
    People they used to insist on authenticity.
  • 00:27:05
    Have people changed? No, that's the good news.
  • 00:27:08
    No, people never change.
  • 00:27:11
    But you know something?
  • 00:27:13
    Real trees are trending downward.
  • 00:27:16
    Your sales continue slipping.
  • 00:27:18
    They destroyed your bottom lines
  • 00:27:20
    with plastic pines and same day shipping.
  • 00:27:24
    Well, you've got the better product.
  • 00:27:27
    But if you want to win, you gotta study human nature.
  • 00:27:33
    All those interested, lean in.
  • 00:27:39
    People are what? Lazy.
  • 00:27:42
    We only care about ourselves.
  • 00:27:44
    Your competition knows this,
  • 00:27:46
    so their crap flies off the shelves.
  • 00:27:48
    We're all so too desperate to feel good and smart and right.
  • 00:27:53
    And that's what you have to harness
  • 00:27:56
    if you want to win this fight.
  • 00:27:58
    See what you're really selling
  • 00:28:00
    is the way things ought to be.
  • 00:28:02
    So your pitch becomes compelling,
  • 00:28:04
    selling more than just a tree.
  • 00:28:07
    It's a symbol of your values,
  • 00:28:09
    it's your ethics and your cause.
  • 00:28:11
    You can either be fake like a trees they make
  • 00:28:14
    or take a stand for Santa Claus.
  • 00:28:18
    We're bringing back Christmas.
  • 00:28:22
    - It's a good -- it's a good movie. It's a good movie.
  • 00:28:24
    And here's what's interesting.
  • 00:28:26
    You hear what he's talking about with human nature.
  • 00:28:28
    He clearly is cynical about human nature.
  • 00:28:31
    But doesn't some of that ring true?
  • 00:28:35
    You know why? Because we're broken.
  • 00:28:38
    Because brokenness has infected everything in the world.
  • 00:28:40
    The Bible is very clear about this,
  • 00:28:42
    that sin has impacted all of us at
  • 00:28:44
    a deep, deep level.
  • 00:28:46
    And so there is this tension
  • 00:28:48
    of whether or not change is really possible.
  • 00:28:51
    And it is exhausting.
  • 00:28:52
    Am I the only one that's exhausted at more bad news?
  • 00:28:56
    Am I the only one that gets exhausted
  • 00:28:57
    about another life lost senseless?
  • 00:28:59
    I know that's what we feel
  • 00:29:01
    and it really makes us wrestle.
  • 00:29:02
    And that scene he's talking to
  • 00:29:04
    the real Christmas tree growers of America.
  • 00:29:06
    And you know what he says?
  • 00:29:08
    He says, "Hey, if you want to boost sales
  • 00:29:09
    of real Christmas trees, make it a culture war issue.
  • 00:29:14
    Because that's the way to get people on your side.
  • 00:29:17
    When you can make it a us versus them issue,
  • 00:29:20
    people will rally around it because we're tribal
  • 00:29:22
    and we're lazy and all of those things."
  • 00:29:25
    And I know, I know that nobody in this room
  • 00:29:27
    has ever fallen prey to a culture war.
  • 00:29:29
    I know I'm talking to a perfect, pristine group
  • 00:29:32
    of people who aren't influenced by that.
  • 00:29:34
    But if you can believe it or not, a lot of people are.
  • 00:29:38
    A lot of people who say they aren't, are.
  • 00:29:41
    And so we wrestle with this and it's weary to think,
  • 00:29:44
    hey, can I really change?
  • 00:29:46
    Can things really change in the world?
  • 00:29:48
    That's a real barrier
  • 00:29:49
    to us believing in redemption.
  • 00:29:50
    But here's another issue that we struggle with is worry.
  • 00:29:54
    You know, it's one thing to think about them out there.
  • 00:29:56
    It's another thing to wrestle with this.
  • 00:29:58
    I'm still struggling with things.
  • 00:30:00
    Will I ever change?
  • 00:30:01
    I have a lot of conversations with people around here
  • 00:30:04
    and that's the gist of the conversation.
  • 00:30:06
    And, you know, I think this is really hard
  • 00:30:08
    for people who are Jesus followers because
  • 00:30:11
    when you're struggling with something
  • 00:30:13
    over and over again, don't you start to ask questions,
  • 00:30:16
    like, well, wait a second, don't I have the Holy Spirit?
  • 00:30:19
    Don't you start asking questions, like,
  • 00:30:21
    well, aren't I supposed to be able to change this?
  • 00:30:23
    Shouldn't I be free of this by now?
  • 00:30:26
    You start to ask questions like, well,
  • 00:30:27
    maybe my salvation didn't take
  • 00:30:29
    and you start to use baptism like a car wash.
  • 00:30:31
    Maybe I need to get dunked again and again and again.
  • 00:30:34
    Right? You wrestle with this
  • 00:30:35
    or you just ask the question, am I doing it wrong?
  • 00:30:38
    Or maybe you're in here and you're on a journey
  • 00:30:41
    of wondering, man, what would it look like to follow Jesus?
  • 00:30:43
    But you have similar questions.
  • 00:30:45
    Some of your questions might be,
  • 00:30:46
    but is this really worth it?
  • 00:30:47
    If I look around at people who claim to be Jesus followers,
  • 00:30:50
    do I see change in their lives that I desire?
  • 00:30:53
    I mean, these are real questions that we wrestle with.
  • 00:30:56
    So maybe for you, it's weariness that's the barrier
  • 00:30:58
    to believing redemption is possible.
  • 00:31:00
    Maybe it's worry or maybe it's wounds.
  • 00:31:05
    Wounds. We all have wounds.
  • 00:31:08
    We have things that were done to us
  • 00:31:09
    that we didn't choose, didn't deserve.
  • 00:31:12
    And those wounds can make it really hard
  • 00:31:14
    to believe that change is possible.
  • 00:31:17
    I'll show you another scene in the movie,
  • 00:31:19
    and we get a little bit of insider story
  • 00:31:20
    on how Clint, Ryan Reynolds' character,
  • 00:31:23
    became the cynic that he is.
  • 00:31:25
    And surprise, surprise, it has to do with
  • 00:31:27
    a wound from his early childhood.
  • 00:31:29
    So many of us, me included, are still impacted
  • 00:31:32
    by wounds from our early childhood,
  • 00:31:34
    and they show up in ways that continue to impact us today.
  • 00:31:36
    So I want you to watch this scene like a psychologist.
  • 00:31:40
    I want to give you permission to be
  • 00:31:42
    an armchair psychologist and see if you find
  • 00:31:45
    in this scene, maybe a bit of a hint
  • 00:31:47
    at how he became the cynic that he is.
  • 00:31:52
    - Carrie. Carrie, mom, said we can open one present tonight.
  • 00:31:55
    - Cool. Let's start with that green one.
  • 00:31:59
    - You got me a puppy?
  • 00:32:01
    - You've only been asking me for a puppy,
  • 00:32:03
    for about, what, 1000 years. - Where is he?
  • 00:32:05
    - He's sleeping in the kitchen.
  • 00:32:07
    - Sparky! Sparky?
  • 00:32:09
    - Sparky? Uh, Clint, wait until you see him.
  • 00:32:12
    He's got the most adorable little white paws and --
  • 00:32:15
    Oh, my God, how many times have I told you
  • 00:32:17
    to close this kitchen door when you come back in?
  • 00:32:19
    If it doesn't click when you close it,
  • 00:32:21
    then it lets all the heat out,
  • 00:32:23
    apparently, adorable little puppies too.
  • 00:32:25
    Oh, geez. This is a Christmas tragedy.
  • 00:32:27
    Clint, no, no, no, she's lying.
  • 00:32:30
    There is no puppy.
  • 00:32:31
    She got you a dog dish
  • 00:32:32
    to make you think that there was a puppy.
  • 00:32:35
    - That's ridiculous.
  • 00:32:36
    - Then why aren't we out looking for it?
  • 00:32:37
    You know, if you spent a nickel on it,
  • 00:32:39
    we would be out looking all night.
  • 00:32:40
    - Oh. That is it!
  • 00:32:43
    You're ruining Christmas!
  • 00:32:47
    You keep on running, missy.
  • 00:32:50
    Hey, where do you think you're going?
  • 00:32:52
    - Sparky? Sparky?
  • 00:32:56
    - I see it now.
  • 00:33:00
    I see the -- I see the --
  • 00:33:04
    the chain of events that led me to be the monster that I am.
  • 00:33:11
    Oh, you're faking. Very nice.
  • 00:33:13
    - Sorry, that was too much.
  • 00:33:15
    What do you expect when you misread
  • 00:33:17
    the situation so egregiously?
  • 00:33:19
    That was the single best Christmas gift
  • 00:33:21
    that she or anyone else has ever given me.
  • 00:33:23
    - Hold on. A lie about a non-existent puppy?
  • 00:33:26
    - No, the solid gold lesson
  • 00:33:28
    that people will believe anything
  • 00:33:30
    if they want to believe it.
  • 00:33:35
    - All right.
  • 00:33:36
    So I'm going to play armchair psychologist
  • 00:33:38
    for just a moment and say that is classic deflection.
  • 00:33:43
    How could you not be wounded
  • 00:33:45
    if the woman who gave you birth you can't trust?
  • 00:33:49
    And here's what I know.
  • 00:33:51
    I know that many of us have wounds that are that deep.
  • 00:33:55
    And those wounds make it really hard
  • 00:33:57
    to believe that change is possible.
  • 00:34:00
    One of the things that's been a theme for me this year,
  • 00:34:03
    I've really been fortunate to spend some time
  • 00:34:05
    with a spiritual director, kind of a person
  • 00:34:07
    that helps kind of guide you and, you know,
  • 00:34:09
    counsel you, not necessarily a psychologist,
  • 00:34:11
    but someone who's kind of helping you
  • 00:34:13
    lean into what is God saying in your life.
  • 00:34:14
    And I've been doing this spiritual direction
  • 00:34:16
    this year, and one of the things that
  • 00:34:18
    my spiritual director has helped me to see
  • 00:34:20
    is that when you hit midlife, and I am 47,
  • 00:34:23
    which means I am midlife, you have childhood wounds
  • 00:34:27
    that you've tamped down in your drive for achievement
  • 00:34:30
    and your drive for success.
  • 00:34:32
    But when you hit midlife, it's almost like that little kid,
  • 00:34:35
    that little boy and that little girl
  • 00:34:36
    starts to tug on you and ask for care and attention.
  • 00:34:41
    And so I found myself this year needing
  • 00:34:44
    to wrestle through childhood wounds that
  • 00:34:46
    I really thought I was over.
  • 00:34:48
    But recognizing all of the ways
  • 00:34:51
    that these childhood wounds have been impacting my life,
  • 00:34:54
    how it's been impacting my relationships,
  • 00:34:56
    how it's been impacting how I show up,
  • 00:34:58
    how it's been impacting my leadership.
  • 00:35:00
    And it's one of those things that at the heart of this,
  • 00:35:05
    I want to believe that I can change.
  • 00:35:08
    But often our weariness, or maybe our worry,
  • 00:35:11
    or maybe our wounds make us think that
  • 00:35:14
    change and redemption is just too far beyond our reach.
  • 00:35:18
    But what I want to say to you today is that
  • 00:35:21
    God, through the Christmas story,
  • 00:35:22
    wants to meet that weariness, that worry,
  • 00:35:25
    and those wounds with a word of hope.
  • 00:35:27
    He has a word of hope for all of us today.
  • 00:35:30
    I don't often have a word of the year
  • 00:35:32
    or a phrase of the year, but I do for 2024.
  • 00:35:35
    And I actually got it from my friend Troy.
  • 00:35:37
    He's been saying this and I'm like,"
  • 00:35:38
    I'm adopting that for 2024."
  • 00:35:40
    And it's simply this: It's mine for hope.
  • 00:35:43
    In whatever situation I'm in, I want to look
  • 00:35:46
    for the places that point to the hope of redemption.
  • 00:35:48
    I want to believe that God
  • 00:35:50
    is still in the business of redeeming.
  • 00:35:52
    And so for the rest of our time,
  • 00:35:54
    I want to look at the person in the Christmas story
  • 00:35:56
    that I believe reflects this the most.
  • 00:35:58
    If I could point to one person in the Christmas story
  • 00:36:01
    who believes in the redemptive power of God the most,
  • 00:36:04
    I would look no further than Mary, the mother of Jesus.
  • 00:36:09
    Mary's story in the Christmas story
  • 00:36:12
    reflects three moves that, if we will make,
  • 00:36:15
    it opens us up to the redemptive power of God in our lives.
  • 00:36:19
    Let me tell you about this woman, this girl, Mary.
  • 00:36:21
    Mary was actually of royal lineage,
  • 00:36:25
    but she wasn't living like royalty at the time.
  • 00:36:28
    We know she was of royal lineage because
  • 00:36:30
    one of the things the prophecy predicted
  • 00:36:32
    is that the Messiah, the rescuer, when Jesus would come,
  • 00:36:35
    He'd have to come from the royal line of David.
  • 00:36:37
    And so way, way back multiple generations,
  • 00:36:39
    Mary was connected to royalty,
  • 00:36:42
    but she was not living like royalty.
  • 00:36:43
    Actually, Mary was living a life
  • 00:36:45
    under triple forms of oppression.
  • 00:36:49
    Number one, she was oppressed because she was Jewish.
  • 00:36:51
    And this was the time
  • 00:36:53
    when Rome had occupied the Israeli territory.
  • 00:36:56
    And so we know that she was oppressed
  • 00:36:58
    because she was Jewish.
  • 00:37:00
    But we also know that she was oppressed
  • 00:37:02
    because she was of low estate.
  • 00:37:04
    I don't know what her economic reality was,
  • 00:37:06
    but I know from a class perspective
  • 00:37:08
    she was not seen as being in the upper echelon,
  • 00:37:11
    and so she would have been oppressed
  • 00:37:12
    and looked down on because of her social class.
  • 00:37:15
    And I also know that Mary was oppressed
  • 00:37:17
    because she was a young woman
  • 00:37:19
    in a highly patriarchal society where women had zero rights.
  • 00:37:24
    And so this is not the woman that you would think
  • 00:37:27
    God would use to bring about the birth of His Son,
  • 00:37:30
    and yet that's exactly what God did.
  • 00:37:32
    It's exactly what God did.
  • 00:37:33
    So Mary's story is that she was
  • 00:37:36
    kind of minding her own business when an angel came
  • 00:37:40
    and gave her a word from God.
  • 00:37:42
    And part of that word was the angel said to her,
  • 00:37:44
    "You are highly favored by God,
  • 00:37:47
    that among all women there is a favor
  • 00:37:50
    that God has placed on your life."
  • 00:37:52
    And then he tells her about this amazing thing.
  • 00:37:55
    The angel tells her about this amazing, amazing thing
  • 00:37:58
    that God is going to do.
  • 00:37:59
    She's like, "How is this going to happen?
  • 00:38:01
    I've never been with a man."
  • 00:38:02
    He says, "That's okay.
  • 00:38:03
    The Holy Spirit's going to work a miracle,
  • 00:38:05
    and you are going to be impregnated
  • 00:38:07
    by the very Spirit of God,
  • 00:38:09
    and you're going to give birth to literally the Son of God."
  • 00:38:14
    And when she says, "How can this be?"
  • 00:38:16
    I love this line in Luke 1:37,
  • 00:38:19
    the angel ends his message to Mary, saying:
  • 00:38:25
    Man, if you're wrestling to believe
  • 00:38:27
    that redemption is possible, I want you
  • 00:38:29
    to think about these words: Nothing is impossible with God.
  • 00:38:33
    No matter what it looks like,
  • 00:38:34
    no matter how dark it may seem,
  • 00:38:36
    no matter how much your weariness or your worry-ness
  • 00:38:38
    or your wounds seem to be a barrier,
  • 00:38:40
    nothing is impossible with God.
  • 00:38:43
    Mary received a word from God that she,
  • 00:38:46
    of all women, would be highly favored,
  • 00:38:48
    that she would give birth to the Redeemer of the world.
  • 00:38:51
    What I love is that God speaks a blessing to Mary
  • 00:38:54
    that transcends her social class,
  • 00:38:56
    a blessing to Mary that transcends her racial dynamic
  • 00:38:59
    and a blessings to her that transcends the fact
  • 00:39:02
    that she was a woman and a female
  • 00:39:03
    in a place where it didn't have any rights.
  • 00:39:05
    And God says, "I'm going to take you from the lowest
  • 00:39:07
    and elevate you to the highest.
  • 00:39:08
    There is nothing impossible for God."
  • 00:39:12
    And I think we see that even in some of the things
  • 00:39:15
    that God is doing in the midst of our church.
  • 00:39:17
    I had an opportunity a couple weeks ago
  • 00:39:19
    to spend time at Warren Correctional Institution.
  • 00:39:22
    We were there for about six hours on a Saturday,
  • 00:39:24
    basically doing a version of Man Camp
  • 00:39:26
    for men who are a part of our church community
  • 00:39:29
    but are incarcerated at the time.
  • 00:39:31
    And I got to tell you, it's always powerful
  • 00:39:33
    when I get to spend time with those brothers,
  • 00:39:36
    because when I'm there, I recognize
  • 00:39:38
    I get to choose whether or not I show up in worship.
  • 00:39:41
    I get to choose whether I come to church or not.
  • 00:39:44
    These are people who are choosing, despite the odds,
  • 00:39:48
    to continue to pursue a relationship with God.
  • 00:39:50
    And I admire them for that.
  • 00:39:52
    And every time I sit across from them and we share,
  • 00:39:55
    I'm also reminded that thank God I'm not judged
  • 00:39:58
    by the worst decision I ever made in the eyes of God.
  • 00:40:02
    Thank God that the worst day and my worst thing
  • 00:40:05
    is not the sum total of how God sees me.
  • 00:40:08
    And this came to light for me with something
  • 00:40:10
    that a friend of mine texted me today.
  • 00:40:12
    We had a chance as a part of the Christmas Gift Drive
  • 00:40:15
    to actually take family photos of some of
  • 00:40:17
    the men and women who are part of our community
  • 00:40:19
    that are at Crossroads, but also incarcerated at this time.
  • 00:40:23
    And I just look at these and I got to tell you,
  • 00:40:25
    this makes me cry.
  • 00:40:26
    These are redemption stories in the working.
  • 00:40:28
    And it makes me happy because these are people
  • 00:40:31
    who are mothers and fathers and sons and brothers and sisters.
  • 00:40:35
    They are not their worst day.
  • 00:40:36
    So if you're watching right now,
  • 00:40:38
    because I know you guys will see this,
  • 00:40:39
    I want you to know you're a part of our community,
  • 00:40:41
    and we see you wholly and fully for who you are,
  • 00:40:44
    and so does God. So does God. [applause]
  • 00:40:48
    Because there is nothing impossible for God.
  • 00:40:53
    Whatever her story had been, God was about to change it.
  • 00:40:57
    But Mary had to make a choice.
  • 00:40:59
    Mary had to make a choice.
  • 00:41:02
    I love what Brene Brown says in Dare to Lead. She says:
  • 00:41:10
    Think about that. And the reason is:
  • 00:41:17
    You know what some of us would have done
  • 00:41:18
    if we got that word from the angel,
  • 00:41:20
    we would have started catastrophizing in our head.
  • 00:41:22
    "Well, wait a second.
  • 00:41:23
    Once God finds out what I did yesterday,
  • 00:41:25
    He's going to renege this offer.
  • 00:41:27
    Maybe God got the wrong person.
  • 00:41:28
    Maybe He wanted my next door neighbor.
  • 00:41:30
    He didn't want to give this message to me."
  • 00:41:31
    We would start rehearsing the reasons why this isn't possible.
  • 00:41:34
    What I love about Mary is she doesn't rehearse tragedy.
  • 00:41:37
    She receives it as joy.
  • 00:41:39
    She doesn't say, "I got to recount
  • 00:41:41
    all the reasons why this couldn't be me."
  • 00:41:43
    She says, "I am the servant of the Lord,
  • 00:41:45
    and this is God's gift to me."
  • 00:41:46
    She doesn't allow it to kill her joy.
  • 00:41:49
    She believes she can be a part of God's redemptive story.
  • 00:41:53
    So in Luke 1:38, just one verse later, it says:
  • 00:42:03
    Mary believes and receives.
  • 00:42:05
    I want everybody to say believe and receive.
  • 00:42:08
    She believes and receives
  • 00:42:10
    that God's redemptive work includes her life.
  • 00:42:15
    And then Mary sings.
  • 00:42:19
    One of the things that you'll find
  • 00:42:20
    if you read particularly the history of Jesus,
  • 00:42:23
    captured as the Gospel of Luke, is that
  • 00:42:25
    there are multiple songs in the Christmas story.
  • 00:42:28
    No wonder there's Christmas music
  • 00:42:29
    connected to Christmas, because in the Bible
  • 00:42:31
    we see these songs.
  • 00:42:33
    And one of the biggest and beautiful songs
  • 00:42:35
    in the Christmas story is Mary's song.
  • 00:42:37
    It's called the Magnificat, Latin for making great,
  • 00:42:40
    because the first word she says is
  • 00:42:41
    my soul magnifies the Lord, my soul makes great the Lord.
  • 00:42:45
    And actually, this song is so subversive
  • 00:42:48
    that it is literally banned in three countries
  • 00:42:50
    and cannot be read in public worship in churches.
  • 00:42:54
    Because it is so subversive, because it talks about
  • 00:42:57
    how God takes the weak and the low of the world
  • 00:43:00
    and elevates them.
  • 00:43:01
    How God operates on an inside out,
  • 00:43:04
    upside down reality, which means
  • 00:43:06
    that nothing is impossible for God.
  • 00:43:08
    So I want to lean into Mary's song with you,
  • 00:43:11
    because in her song are those three moves
  • 00:43:14
    that if we will make them, they will allow us
  • 00:43:16
    to be open to God's redemptive power in our lives.
  • 00:43:19
    This comes from Luke 1:46-55,
  • 00:43:21
    and this is Mary's song of praise. And Mary said:
  • 00:44:09
    And I want to suggest to you
  • 00:44:10
    that Mary makes three moves in this song.
  • 00:44:13
    Her first move is Mary moves from weariness to wonder.
  • 00:44:17
    From weariness to wonder.
  • 00:44:19
    She says, my soul magnifies the Lord
  • 00:44:22
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
  • 00:44:25
    There is a wonder she has
  • 00:44:27
    about God's ability to redeem her story.
  • 00:44:30
    You know, I have a nine year old daughter.
  • 00:44:32
    And so for her, the Christmas spirit is very much alive.
  • 00:44:35
    Like, that Christmas wonder, that excitement,
  • 00:44:38
    counting down the days.
  • 00:44:39
    And I just love the energy
  • 00:44:41
    that Isabel brings to our house because of that.
  • 00:44:43
    And she's also nine, which means she can actually
  • 00:44:46
    be super honest and trying to be slick at the same time.
  • 00:44:49
    Do you know what I mean?
  • 00:44:51
    So she told on herself some things
  • 00:44:53
    that we kind of suspected but now know to be true.
  • 00:44:55
    One of the things she told us is that
  • 00:44:57
    for the last several years,
  • 00:44:59
    she's been getting up early on Christmas morning
  • 00:45:01
    and going downstairs quietly.
  • 00:45:03
    She doesn't open any gifts,
  • 00:45:04
    but she just kind of checks and makes sure
  • 00:45:06
    that there's gifts for her under the tree.
  • 00:45:08
    So she told us that herself.
  • 00:45:09
    So, you know, this is what you do when you're nine.
  • 00:45:11
    But the other thing that she's doing is
  • 00:45:13
    she has a 12 and a 15 year old brother.
  • 00:45:15
    And I don't know if you've ever tried
  • 00:45:16
    to wake up a 15 year old for anything,
  • 00:45:18
    but they don't like that.
  • 00:45:20
    So but we have a rule in our family on Christmas Day,
  • 00:45:22
    nobody goes downstairs until everybody is up.
  • 00:45:25
    And her brothers have been hinting at this
  • 00:45:27
    for a couple of years, that what Isabel will do
  • 00:45:29
    after she checks those gifts is she finds
  • 00:45:32
    a reason to accidentally wake up her brothers early.
  • 00:45:35
    So this year, we're kind of on the lookout for her scheme.
  • 00:45:40
    But what I love about her is there's still
  • 00:45:42
    a wonder that she has about Christmas,
  • 00:45:44
    and I pray she never loses that wonder.
  • 00:45:47
    And I think us as adults in this room
  • 00:45:50
    need to recapture that wonder.
  • 00:45:52
    This is the time of year where songs talk about
  • 00:45:54
    a man who makes a list and checks it twice.
  • 00:45:57
    I want to suggest that you and I
  • 00:45:59
    need to make wonder lists this Christmas season.
  • 00:46:03
    If you want to be reminded of God's redemptive power,
  • 00:46:05
    make a list of all the wonderful ways
  • 00:46:08
    that God has already worked in your life over the years.
  • 00:46:11
    So I've made a little bit of a wonder list in my life.
  • 00:46:14
    It's a wonder that my wife and I
  • 00:46:15
    have been married for 21 years,
  • 00:46:17
    thinking about the ups and downs and the things
  • 00:46:19
    that I know I don't deserve from her, that's a wonder.
  • 00:46:22
    It's a wonder that God has blessed us
  • 00:46:23
    with three healthy children.
  • 00:46:25
    I'm so thankful for the kids that I have
  • 00:46:27
    and what they mean to my life.
  • 00:46:28
    It's a wonder that God has used
  • 00:46:30
    some of the worst things of my past
  • 00:46:32
    to help other men and their families.
  • 00:46:34
    That is a wonder that only God can do,
  • 00:46:36
    how he can take broken things
  • 00:46:37
    and bring beauty out of it.
  • 00:46:38
    That's something only God can do.
  • 00:46:40
    It's a wonder that God allows me to preach
  • 00:46:42
    and pastor as my profession.
  • 00:46:44
    That is a gift from God,
  • 00:46:46
    and I am so grateful for that privilege.
  • 00:46:48
    It's a wonder how God has surrounded me
  • 00:46:50
    with so many mentors and guides.
  • 00:46:52
    And I could go on and on and on.
  • 00:46:54
    What would be on your wonder list this year?
  • 00:46:57
    If you want to move from weariness to wonder,
  • 00:47:00
    a way to do that is to make a wonder list for yourself.
  • 00:47:03
    Remind yourself of the goodness of God in your life.
  • 00:47:07
    It will take your eyes off of the things
  • 00:47:09
    that are wearying your heart,
  • 00:47:11
    and it will put your eyes
  • 00:47:12
    on the wonder of our redeeming Savior.
  • 00:47:15
    Mary moves from weariness to wonder.
  • 00:47:17
    She also moves from worry to worship.
  • 00:47:21
    She moves when she says, "For he who is mighty
  • 00:47:24
    has done great things for me."
  • 00:47:26
    And then she says this, "Holy is his name."
  • 00:47:29
    Holy is his name.
  • 00:47:30
    If you look at the stories of Jesus's birth,
  • 00:47:33
    he gets 16 names at least throughout all of the gospels
  • 00:47:36
    when they're talking about him.
  • 00:47:38
    And I just want to share some of these names with you,
  • 00:47:40
    because these names represent who he is.
  • 00:47:43
    They represent what he will be to you and to me.
  • 00:47:47
    One of the names he's given is Messiah,
  • 00:47:49
    which means Anointed One.
  • 00:47:51
    This is the prophesied one that God promised
  • 00:47:53
    would come and rescue the nation of Israel,
  • 00:47:55
    and through him rescue the world.
  • 00:47:57
    Jesus is called the Messiah.
  • 00:47:59
    He's also given the name Jesus,
  • 00:48:01
    which means God is salvation.
  • 00:48:04
    So, if you ever think that things
  • 00:48:05
    are too far gone to be saved, just remember
  • 00:48:08
    that literally salvation is his name.
  • 00:48:11
    That when you call on the name of Jesus,
  • 00:48:13
    you are calling on salvation.
  • 00:48:14
    That when you receive Jesus,
  • 00:48:16
    you are receiving salvation.
  • 00:48:17
    Salvation is literally his name.
  • 00:48:20
    He's also called Emmanuel because he's God with us.
  • 00:48:24
    So even in the times where we feel alone
  • 00:48:26
    or desperate or feel like no one is listening,
  • 00:48:28
    Jesus is Emmanuel. He is literally with you.
  • 00:48:31
    He's not distant from you.
  • 00:48:33
    He's not waiting to see what you do.
  • 00:48:35
    He is right there with you.
  • 00:48:36
    It is literally his name.
  • 00:48:38
    He's also called the King, because
  • 00:48:41
    Jesus didn't just come to do helpful preaching,
  • 00:48:43
    he came to usher in a kingdom, a different reality
  • 00:48:47
    that looks like the love and the justice
  • 00:48:49
    and the mercy and the beauty
  • 00:48:51
    and the creativity of the God who made the universe.
  • 00:48:55
    He's called a shepherd because
  • 00:48:57
    he's not a king who's distant from his subjects,
  • 00:48:59
    but he is a king who comes close and takes care.
  • 00:49:03
    He's a shepherd who leaves the 99 to chase after the one.
  • 00:49:06
    If you feel like the one,
  • 00:49:08
    if you feel like the outsider, if you feel like the outcast,
  • 00:49:11
    I want you to know Jesus is specifically coming for you.
  • 00:49:14
    He loves you because he's a good shepherd
  • 00:49:17
    and that is literally his name.
  • 00:49:19
    I wonder what do you need him to be for you this Christmas?
  • 00:49:23
    What name do you need to remember
  • 00:49:25
    is a part of his redemptive heart for you?
  • 00:49:28
    Holy is his name.
  • 00:49:31
    Claim it. Receive it. Believe it,
  • 00:49:34
    because Jesus wants to be that for you and more.
  • 00:49:38
    And then the final move that Mary makes
  • 00:49:40
    is she moves from wounds to a womb.
  • 00:49:44
    I think it is no accident that
  • 00:49:48
    the redemptive story of Christmas
  • 00:49:52
    comes to fruition in a woman's womb.
  • 00:49:55
    I want to suggest there is no more beautiful picture
  • 00:49:59
    of the creative power of God than what happens
  • 00:50:03
    in a woman's womb as they carry a child,
  • 00:50:06
    and then ultimately bring life,
  • 00:50:08
    new life into the world.
  • 00:50:10
    There's nothing more powerful than that,
  • 00:50:13
    and that is a painful process too,
  • 00:50:17
    or so I'm told. I mean, I let's be clear,
  • 00:50:19
    I, I don't know from personal experience,
  • 00:50:21
    but I know that I heard some amens on that
  • 00:50:24
    because it's a painful process.
  • 00:50:25
    Here's what I love about that, though.
  • 00:50:27
    What that means is, if you think
  • 00:50:28
    that God's redemption comes without difficulty,
  • 00:50:31
    you're missing the point.
  • 00:50:33
    You never get to a redemptive story
  • 00:50:35
    without pain and difficulty.
  • 00:50:38
    God works in the pain to produce something new.
  • 00:50:41
    He works in the pain to produce new life.
  • 00:50:44
    And sometimes we think the pain is evidence
  • 00:50:47
    that God is not working his redemptive plan.
  • 00:50:49
    And actually, that's the very place
  • 00:50:51
    where the redemption will begin,
  • 00:50:53
    at the point of pain, at the point of difficulty,
  • 00:50:56
    at the point where you feel like you can't do anything else,
  • 00:50:59
    that's where God shows up,
  • 00:51:01
    because there is nothing impossible for God.
  • 00:51:08
    And so Mary sings, she sings, she sings this song
  • 00:51:13
    that recognizes that if we're going to experience
  • 00:51:16
    the redemptive power of God, we've got to know
  • 00:51:18
    there is nothing that God can't redeem.
  • 00:51:23
    I want to go back to the movie and show you one final scene.
  • 00:51:27
    Because all through the movie, there's a through line,
  • 00:51:29
    and the through line is whether or not
  • 00:51:31
    Ebenezer Scrooge, Will Ferrell's character,
  • 00:51:33
    believes he's actually redeemable.
  • 00:51:36
    They put a stamp on him that says Unredeemable.
  • 00:51:39
    And so his question that we're going to see here
  • 00:51:42
    a question that maybe you've been asking,
  • 00:51:45
    and maybe that's the question God has you here today
  • 00:51:49
    to answer once and for all.
  • 00:51:50
    So I want you to listen to this together.
  • 00:51:56
    - No, no, no, there is no call for singing. Now, come on.
  • 00:51:59
    - Doesn't matter how many people you change,
  • 00:52:01
    no matter how much good you do,
  • 00:52:03
    you still don't know the answer.
  • 00:52:05
    - The answer to what?
  • 00:52:15
    - Am I forever unredeemable?
  • 00:52:22
    - What? Why that's preposterous.
  • 00:52:24
    You were redeemed. I was there.
  • 00:52:26
    - But can I ever overcome
  • 00:52:30
    all the wrongs I'm running from?
  • 00:52:32
    -That was all so long ago.
  • 00:52:35
    You more than made up for all that by now.
  • 00:52:37
    - Can my worst be left behind
  • 00:52:40
    and do I deserve to find
  • 00:52:43
    there's a soul who could see any good in me?
  • 00:52:50
    Or will I only ever be unredeemable?
  • 00:53:01
    - It's a poignant moment because
  • 00:53:03
    that's a real question that maybe you're asking today.
  • 00:53:09
    Here's where this story is different
  • 00:53:11
    than the Christmas story.
  • 00:53:13
    See in this story he wrestles with that question
  • 00:53:17
    because he wonders if he can ever do enough good
  • 00:53:22
    to make up for all the wrong that he's done.
  • 00:53:26
    That's why the Christmas story is good news.
  • 00:53:29
    Because I want you to know, without a shadow of a doubt,
  • 00:53:31
    no matter what you have done in your life,
  • 00:53:34
    you are redeemable.
  • 00:53:37
    Because it's not based on you doing enough good
  • 00:53:40
    to get into the right graces of God.
  • 00:53:42
    He sent His Son Jesus, that baby in the womb,
  • 00:53:46
    actually ultimately wound up dying
  • 00:53:48
    as a lamb on a Cross Ho say that his finished work
  • 00:53:51
    is what makes you and I right in the eyes of God.
  • 00:53:53
    It's a completely different way to be redeemed.
  • 00:53:56
    It's a beautiful way to be redeemed. I
  • 00:53:59
    t's a freeing way to be redeemed because
  • 00:54:01
    it's not based on what Chuck has done;
  • 00:54:03
    it's based on what Christ has done for me.
  • 00:54:06
    And so I just want you to know,
  • 00:54:07
    no matter where you are, no matter what it looks like,
  • 00:54:10
    you are redeemable.
  • 00:54:11
    But redeemable and redemption is a process.
  • 00:54:15
    Look what the Bible says in Philippians 2:12.
  • 00:54:17
    It says: continue to work out your salvation.
  • 00:54:19
    That doesn't mean you work for your salvation,
  • 00:54:21
    it means that salvation is a process.
  • 00:54:23
    Transformation is a process.
  • 00:54:24
    It is going to feel like two steps forward
  • 00:54:26
    and three steps back sometimes, that's normal.
  • 00:54:28
    That doesn't mean that you haven't received Jesus.
  • 00:54:31
    It means you're in the process of being saved.
  • 00:54:34
    Look at what it says in 1 Corinthians 1:18:
  • 00:54:36
    those who are being saved.
  • 00:54:38
    There is a moment where Jesus comes
  • 00:54:41
    and changes your life, and then there is
  • 00:54:43
    the process of maturity
  • 00:54:44
    that happens for the rest of your life.
  • 00:54:46
    And then when you ultimately come before
  • 00:54:48
    the presence of God on the other side of this life,
  • 00:54:51
    perfection will be realized.
  • 00:54:52
    That is the process of redemption.
  • 00:54:56
    And so I want you to trust the process
  • 00:54:58
    because God doesn't just say redemption is possible,
  • 00:55:01
    He says redemption is inevitable.
  • 00:55:04
    One of my favorite verses in the Bible
  • 00:55:06
    is at the very end in Revelations 21:5, and it saysH
  • 00:55:16
    I love that because what it means is
  • 00:55:18
    all the things right now that
  • 00:55:19
    don't feel like they'll ever be made new,
  • 00:55:21
    all the things don't feel like they will ever be healed,
  • 00:55:25
    those are the very things
  • 00:55:26
    that Jesus is in the process of healing.
  • 00:55:28
    See who is the one who is seated on the throne
  • 00:55:31
    is the same baby that was in Mary's womb.
  • 00:55:35
    Because God wants you and I to know that
  • 00:55:37
    He will make any person, anywhere,
  • 00:55:40
    the center point of His redemptive plan.
  • 00:55:44
    How do I know that's true?
  • 00:55:45
    How do I believe that?
  • 00:55:47
    I know it because God made a stutterer called Moses
  • 00:55:50
    his mouthpiece for the liberation of His people.
  • 00:55:53
    I know it because God took a runt of a son named David
  • 00:55:57
    that his father didn't even want to recognize,
  • 00:56:00
    and made him the King of Israel.
  • 00:56:02
    I know it because he took a hot headed,
  • 00:56:05
    impulsive man named Peter and made him
  • 00:56:08
    one of the early pastors of the local church.
  • 00:56:11
    I know it because he took a murderer named Paul
  • 00:56:14
    and actually made him a minister of the gospel
  • 00:56:17
    all over the world.
  • 00:56:19
    And I know it because he took a girl of low estate
  • 00:56:22
    and elevated her to the highest honor
  • 00:56:26
    a woman could have as literally being the Mother of God.
  • 00:56:30
    And I also know it because he's done it in me.
  • 00:56:33
    Can I get a witness? Has he done it in you?
  • 00:56:35
    Are there people in here who know that
  • 00:56:37
    the life you live now doesn't make sense by your own power?
  • 00:56:40
    That there is a power at work in you,
  • 00:56:42
    that you are not forever unredeemable
  • 00:56:44
    because God is redeeming you right now.
  • 00:56:46
    Some of you this year have had God break through
  • 00:56:49
    your life in a powerful way.
  • 00:56:51
    There are things you never thought would change
  • 00:56:53
    and God is changing.
  • 00:56:54
    There may be relationships that you never thought
  • 00:56:56
    that would heal and God is healing them.
  • 00:56:58
    I want you to know there is nothing impossible for God.
  • 00:57:03
    But you and I have the same choice that Mary has:
  • 00:57:07
    Will we choose to believe that
  • 00:57:10
    or will we let our worry and our weariness
  • 00:57:13
    and our woundedness keep us from the God
  • 00:57:16
    who always is in the business of redeeming people?
  • 00:57:20
    The band's going to play a song
  • 00:57:22
    and we're going to do a meditative reflection time
  • 00:57:27
    for just a few minutes.
  • 00:57:30
    One of the gifts that came to me in 2023
  • 00:57:33
    was meeting a woman named Betty Lynn Dickinson.
  • 00:57:36
    Betty is a pastor. She's also an artist.
  • 00:57:39
    She wrote an incredible book
  • 00:57:41
    that I'm going through for advent.
  • 00:57:42
    It's called Making Room.
  • 00:57:44
    And one of the things she does is she uses art
  • 00:57:47
    as a way to help people reflectively pray.
  • 00:57:51
    You know, we think about it, vision is a muscle,
  • 00:57:53
    and we can use that muscle to meditate and to pray.
  • 00:57:56
    And so we're going to do that for just a few moments
  • 00:57:59
    using a photo, a photo of an image
  • 00:58:01
    that she's drawn in her book.
  • 00:58:03
    This is called the Magnificat.
  • 00:58:05
    This is her visual depiction of the story of Mary
  • 00:58:09
    that we've talked about today.
  • 00:58:13
    And so as we spend a few minutes on this,
  • 00:58:15
    I just want you to slow down,
  • 00:58:18
    maybe take a few deep breaths.
  • 00:58:22
    And I want you to just begin to fixate
  • 00:58:23
    and look at that image.
  • 00:58:28
    I'm going to take you around the image a little bit,
  • 00:58:31
    and we'll do some zooming in
  • 00:58:32
    so you can reflect on some specific pieces of it.
  • 00:58:36
    But as we do this, I just need to ask God,
  • 00:58:38
    what do you want me to see?
  • 00:58:41
    Just pray that prayer right now.
  • 00:58:43
    God, what do you want me to see?
  • 00:58:49
    In the painting, Mary's Magnificat
  • 00:58:53
    is a song that streams from her body through the Spirit.
  • 00:58:57
    See that white stream coming from her womb,
  • 00:59:00
    almost from her heart as she proclaims
  • 00:59:04
    that a truth that's represented in this story is real.
  • 00:59:12
    You may notice that that stream is actually
  • 00:59:16
    flowing to a group of people.
  • 00:59:19
    There's justice scales in this picture.
  • 00:59:23
    And actually the humble and the hungry
  • 00:59:25
    are the ones who are surrounded by the Spirit,
  • 00:59:27
    while the prideful and the rich
  • 00:59:30
    are actually found wanting on the scale.
  • 00:59:34
    And so we see that the Spirit
  • 00:59:35
    is with the humble and the hungry.
  • 00:59:39
    There's another piece of this painting
  • 00:59:41
    that I want to point out,
  • 00:59:42
    which is hard to see from a distance.
  • 00:59:46
    But if you can look in the trunk of that tree,
  • 00:59:48
    what you'll see is there's a fetus in that trunk.
  • 00:59:55
    And literally the roots from that life
  • 01:00:00
    is the foundation that Mary is standing on.
  • 01:00:03
    It's the foundation from which the Spirit flows.
  • 01:00:08
    And it's just as a reminder that often
  • 01:00:10
    what God is doing is he's birthing redemption underground.
  • 01:00:18
    So just a couple questions for you to reflect on.
  • 01:00:20
    One is what thoughts or feelings
  • 01:00:22
    does this painting evoke in you?
  • 01:00:30
    What specifically does God want you to see today?
  • 01:00:40
    Maybe think about an area of your own life
  • 01:00:43
    where you're hungry for redemption.
  • 01:00:46
    What would it look like to believe
  • 01:00:48
    and receive God's plan for you there?
  • 01:00:53
    I want you to receive that invitation.
  • 01:00:55
    I want to pray for you
  • 01:00:56
    and then we're going to stand and sing.
  • 01:01:01
    God, thank you for Mary's song.
  • 01:01:04
    Thank you for the story of her life.
  • 01:01:07
    Thank you for the redemptive story
  • 01:01:08
    that you are working not just in her life,
  • 01:01:10
    but in our lives today.
  • 01:01:13
    Would you help us to believe in a new way,
  • 01:01:15
    maybe see in a fresh way, nothing is impossible for you.
  • 01:01:22
    In Jesus's name, Amen.
  • 01:01:26
    Let's stand together.
  • 01:01:29
    We're going to sing just this song as a response.
  • 01:01:32
    It says, God, we want to make room for you.
  • 01:01:34
    We want to make room for the redemption
  • 01:01:36
    you're working in our lives.
  • 01:01:45
    - Let's sing this together.
  • 01:03:55
    - Hey, thanks for joining us today.
  • 01:03:57
    Set a time this week with friends and family
  • 01:03:59
    to watch the Christmas service and to join in
  • 01:04:02
    the interactive Christmas Story in the Crossroads App.
  • 01:04:04
    For more information, head to crossroads.net/Christmas.
  • 01:04:08
    Now, the week after Christmas,
  • 01:04:09
    all of our physical locations are closed,
  • 01:04:11
    but we're not closed.
  • 01:04:13
    We'll have an awesome online year end service
  • 01:04:15
    to talk about all of the amazing things
  • 01:04:16
    God has done this year, and looking forward to 2024.
  • 01:04:20
    We'll see you next week for Christmas services.

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! This is the group part of the Bible Challenge, so your questions are based on specific Bible passages from the weekend message. Each week, your group will discover what God might be saying to you, and how you can respond through a group discussion.

  1. If you had to sell real Christmas trees to a world of plastic, what would be your strategy?

  2. What stood out to you most from the message?

  3. Where do you see weariness, worry, or wounds (the 3 Ws) in your life?

  4. How do the 3 Ws impact your relationships or the way you live your life? How do they change the way you see yourself?

  5. In what ways do you find yourself doubting God’s redemptive power, or your worthiness of it?

  6. How do you believe God has redeemed you or is redeeming you?

  7. Read Luke 1:46-55. What would it take or what would have to change for you to feel like you could sing the way Mary sings here?

  8. What’s one way you can choose to believe and receive God’s redemptive work in your life this week? Author’s Pick: Chuck’s “Wonder List”.

  9. Let’s end with prayer. You can say something like, “God, thank you for redeeming us. For never giving up on us. For giving us rest when we’re weary, peace when we worry, and healing when wounded. Give us the faith to believe in your redemptive power. Amen.”

More from the Weekend

Bonus Questions! Check these out if you’re on a roll and want to go a little deeper.

  • Redemption can’t happen without pain. Where have you seen pain or suffering in your life turn into something beautiful?
  • How would your life or your relationships change if you embraced redemption as a process, instead of a one-time event?

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(This stuff helps us figure out how many fruitcakes to make come December)

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Got it! Enjoy your discussion.


Dec 17, 2023

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