2020 Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

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Merry Christmas everyone how are you doing today it’s so good to have you here to those of you tuning in at home as well we’re delighted to welcome you you guys in the building you are the televised crowd so congratulations to you I’ve told all the services so far that they’re my favorite service but you guys have my real favorite service the fifth of sixth is the place to be so thank you for joining us today my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here I get to welcome you and my name is laura and why are you here because it gives me an opportunity to meet people and not chase our three-year-old around absolutely you got to I bribed her to come up and help me with welcome with free child care for our three children so you’re like I’m in um but hesitantly for definite so um yeah thank you for joining me it’s so fun to have you here so we

wanted to make sure that Christmas eve was live and in person if it was absolutely possible there’s something magical about gathering together some of you have been doing online church for a long time and it’s a great thing to be able to put in place but I think many of you will find that you can’t capture all of the magic of gathering together through a television screen there’s something about being in person that just makes a difference I said to some some of the staff as we were chatting I was very emotional the first time I got to come back to church after the pandemic started if that’s you in this situation you may cry and if you do I want to know about it because I said I would like to make as many people cry on Christmas eve as I possibly can it’s a weird statistic to measure but that’s what we’re measuring this year so we

hope you enjoy singing and our goal was this we wanted you to be able to go away saying I felt like we sang the right amount if you go away saying I talk too much and we sang too little then I’m sorry because we wanted this to be about you getting to sing some of the advent songs that you may not have got to sing this year and so we’re so glad you could join us in person to do that but we have some some fun stuff going on outside and we want to let people know about that right what can they do outside well before that you kind of jump the gun I did yeah okay so we’ve we’ve only been here for a while it’s been three months which is crazy um but we you know so some of you are here for the first time and we haven’t met you so we’d love to meet you um or if we do already know you come and say hi um but you know we’re just so glad that

you came out tonight and or this evening now this evening anyway we’ve got some you know some really fun things outside you can take our Christmas journey um horse drawn carriage and then you can do the journey of light you walk down that way and you can play each clip and it will take you on the journey of the first Christmas uh you can try and guess the voices if you’re a south person try and figure out who did them because they did a wonderful job recording them and in actual fact everything that’s here tonight I just want to just give the staff a big shout out because they have put so much work into making sure in person worked on Christmas eve six services was not easy it’s taken a lot of energy I think yvonne and amy have been outside for about the last six days when a display blew down they picked it back up and they started again

aaron and the team making it through six services keeping those voices going jessica took all your emails when you changed your mind and said I want to go to a different service now she figured all of those dynamics out and this staff team is just amazing to work with and so I’m just very thankful to them one final thing before we start singing we are taking a Christmas offering we do it every year none of the money comes to south it goes straight out to a great organization this year it’s going to true international we sponsor two missionaries with true international tyler and amy they work in nairobi with about 450 street boys they would love at some point soon to purchase a piece of land that will enable them to provide almost like a safe space a haven for some of those boys where they can do some more ministry they can help

train them in in things that will help them find careers and and start businesses and all those different things if you would like to give to that if that feels like something you you feel passionate about there is a give box outside maybe you saw it when you came in there’s no pressure to give none of it comes to south won’t pay salaries won’t pay building costs won’t even do some of the great things we do all the all the year through but whether you’re online or in person you can do that online or in person so let’s pray and let’s start singing Jesus thank you for your presence uh thank you that we celebrate this season of advent we wait as they waited 2 000 years ago and now we’re at Christmas where our waiting ends we remember that 2000 years ago god made his entry into the world in a new way and we celebrate with

excitement that fact love it in the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god he was with god in the beginning through him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world this is the historian john’s introduction to Jesus and compare it to this one this is another writer called luke while they were born there the time came for the baby to be born she gave birth to her first born a son she wrapped him in

cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them do you feel the tension of those two passages one is huge and it’s big and it’s this story that god who was not part of this world is now down here with us it’s this incredible descent of god from infinite and eternal to this tiny little thing right there and the other one is is normal many of you may have experienced it she had a baby she wrapped him in cloths to keep him warm just like people have done for a long time she probably fed him and things too those very normal things one story has this sense of there was a star and there was an angel and there was a party and and the other one was there was poop uh there was a barn it was smelly it was bad and I love these kids in this video because they just capture the mixture of the two stories there’s both

this magical sort of like eternal big thing going on and there’s also this really very normal thing going on but in the middle of this story god becomes human god makes this incredible journey from from not being involved in the story directly the creator of the story comes and gets involved in his own story as a character this is the incredible moment we use this word in church maybe you’re not familiar with it if you don’t do church very often we use this word incarnation and it’s a really important sounding word and the best way I’ve figured out to describe it especially to kids is this it’s like genie in aladdin so if you’ve seen a lad in the movie this sounds sacrilegious scandalous but it honestly is the best way to understand it because genie has this moment the big blue guy has this moment where he says phenomenal cosmic

power edbd living space he goes from being able to do anything he wants to being trapped in in a small place now the reason it’s kind of a scandalous way of describing it is not because it’s bad it’s actually because it’s so so close to what actually happens the god of the universe goes from being up there being able to do whatever he wants to to being down here and he turns up in this incredibly strange place a stable in palestine two thousand years ago that smelled bad that wasn’t ideal god turns up at times in very strange places maybe some of you that have been lucky enough to say that you’ve experienced god in some way would say that you’ve met him in strange places as well I experienced god in haiti in a play a time I didn’t want to be there I had no desire to be there I just had my third child life was busy I didn’t want to go and so I went

resentfully and arriving there I ended up playing soccer with a hundred haitian boys in a building that was probably about the size of the stage behind me and packed in there with all the sweat and all the noise and all the chaos I had this moment where I was like god is here right now it feels like it just feels surreal and I called my wife before I left and said I’m so desperate to see you I’m so longing to see you and the kids but I wish you were coming here because I’ve experienced something wonderful here god turns up in strange places he turns up in a stable 2000 years ago he turns up in a third world developing nation he turns up maybe here in an old shopping mall that we turned into a church god has this habit of turning up in very strange places and that the story that we just experienced is is fantastic think about these

different elements that come together so joseph went from up from the town of nazareth in galilee to judea to bethlehem to the town of david because he belonged to the house of david and he went there to register with mary he was play who was he he was pledged to be married with and expecting a child joseph and mary make their journey to bethlehem and the shepherds were told hurry up and found mary and joseph and the baby who was laying in a manger and these magi characters these wise men or kings after Jesus was born in bethlehem in judea during the time of king herod maggai came from the east to jerusalem these stories are pulled together like a magnet they’re slowly making their way to the same place maybe not at the same time maybe there wasn’t actually a party although I don’t know for sure but there’s

these stories that have been pulled in but actually the biggest story the most significant thing is the descent of god from being there to being down here with us that is the the big moment of the story god made a journey for you and for me that’s the the Christmas message that’s the thing to remind ourselves of the the waiting of advent this season we’ve just been through and if you’re not familiar with advent it’s the four weeks before Christmas day that waiting period ends with the moment that god 2 000 years ago we’re told became a human being to live our story with us and he made that journey for you and for me now I’ve not made that journey but I have as many of you I ha I would suggest probably have at some point I have made journeys for love for just the blind reason of love I was once dating my wife across the atlantic I lived in

england she lived in detroit and I was on vacation in vancouver and I thought you know what I can sneak over and see her for a couple of days now I was very poor at the time didn’t have any money really so I thought about it I thought is it good is it a wise use of resources whatever and a friend said this to me very profound poignant advice if you ever in this situation remember this advice you will never regret spending money on a story that you will tell for the rest of your life if you need some advice maybe that’s for you and so I did I jumped across I jumped on a plane and flew to detroit and we got to spend two three days together when she didn’t expect it I walked into the coffee shop she worked in and I had that moment where her face just lit up with surprise and I’ve made that journey and I did it just because I was in love and and I I played

this wonderful game with her I told her there was no way I would make it out there I even did as you may have done when you’re young and in love sent a little note to us saying I was in seattle and it was raining there because even the sky was sad that the two of us couldn’t be together you know those incredible sappy things you write when you’re young and in love but I made it across and we had this wonderful time together so I know what it is to make a journey for love and and that seems the premise of this Jesus story that god out of love for you and I makes a journey that takes him from all the way up there to all the way down here that is the Christmas moment the thing that we celebrate and yet I wonder whether we struggle with that story at times because of how our relationships work for many of you that have been in a

relationship you’re married you know that it takes work to keep it alive right you get to know the other person and you know not only their good points but you know some of their negative things as well and the cards that you used to write that say things like your eyes are like two limpet pools of loveliness I can’t possibly fathom their depths and you smell of roses become cards that say I still love you see last year’s card if you want more details it becomes like this slightly depressing experience if we’re not careful a colleague in ministry back in michigan where I worked a few years ago said that he asked the dangerous question of his wife could you tell me how you would rate our marriage I would give it eight and a half out of ten she said one and she said I feel left behind I feel like I just have no purpose and I just keep the house going

and you go and do these things and and so he said let’s date each other again so they began to spend more time intentionally together and they went out one evening and she poured out a heart and she said this is how I feel and she went to the bathroom and while she was gone he wrote her a note and handed it to her and she said I came back expecting it to be a note just just reminding me how much he loved me and how much he valued me it was actually a list of how she could be more productive with her day which was not what she was expecting not what she was wanting so she stormed out and and he honestly felt that god had told him to write this list uh and so as she stormed out she somehow knew this and she looked back at him and she yelled oh by the way that was not god talking to you marriage takes this work and if

you’re in a place where it’s feeling difficult where it’s it’s hard that’s okay that’s not it’s not supposed to make you feel bad but because that our relationships look like that because we see the weaknesses in the other person over time I wonder if it affects the way that we think god thinks about us see I would suggest god made a journey for you so that he could journey with you god actually likes being with you I think there’s this sense that we think that the Jesus story is about one moment where god comes and does everything but it’s actually one moment where god comes and does something so that he can spend life with us so he can be with us on that journey of life if you know nothing else this Christmas I would actually like you to know and it sounds insignificant I would actually like you to know that god likes you there’s all these

stories all the way through the bible that tell us god loves us that’s very important he does love you very much but when we’re talking about love and we know that god is love it can seem a bit like an obligation like something he has to do but to know that god likes you with all your quirks all the things that make you you is important he made you and he values you I think I find that hard because well I know just how irritating I actually am I have to spend all day with myself it’s just as bad as you could imagine I never shut up even in my own head so I’m stuck with me and I know all the ways that I irritate myself and I suspect you probably do as well something happens to our psyche as we grow up we go from being kids that believe everybody likes us to slowly questioning who what do people think about us and I wonder if that happens

to even those of us that say that we’re following Jesus on a journey that we’re involved with him day to day I wonder if we just questioned does he really like me I would love this Christmas season for you to know that god loves you and he likes you this is a passage from psalm 139 how precious are your thoughts about me god how vast is the sum of them where I could count them they would outnumber the grains of sand and when I awake I am still with you this writer talks about his journey with god as almost one of young lovers waking up and the first thing that he thinks about his god and he says that almost the first thing that god thinks about if he ever slept was was me they have that sense of relationship god’s thoughts about you are vast if you would uh number the grains of sand it wouldn’t equal the number of times or ways that

god’s god thinks about you and think about how many grains of sand that is think about every golf course and the sand traps think about every ocean bed think about every beachfront that god thinks about you and he loves you and he likes you I would love to create an opportunity for this Christmas season in the midst of singing and weren’t those guys incredible just the voices and just the band together it’s such a joyful time to sing but to create this invitation for you how will you respond to god’s invitation to journey with him maybe that’s something that you’ve never been asked before you’ve never thought about life with god as a journey maybe you’ve heard phrases like you should invite Jesus into your heart or things like that and that language is fine but sometimes it can make us think that all god is interested in is being small

and inside us or something like that but the idea that god is desiring to journey with you to walk step by step to lead you on a journey through life that he wants to give you the power to live a different kind of life isn’t that important at Christmas maybe you’re already on that journey but 2020 has made it difficult and you’re like I don’t even know what that looks like now maybe you’re doing great but there’s new ways for you and god to partner together I would love to create space in this service to invite you into that there’s this wonderful phrase in that story that we just read but mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in a heart I always used to give that song mary did you know a really hard time you know the song and it seems really polarizing some people love it some people hate it and I always used to say of course she

knew it’s in the bible she knew but over time I’ve started to wonder if I’m right because I’ve started to question well what did she know she knew that this child was going to do something incredible she knew that on some in some way on some level he would save the world but she didn’t know it involved crucifixion she didn’t know that it involved resurrection she didn’t know so much of what it would cost her she knew bits but she’s left pondering these things and wondering who this child is that sits in front of her and I would love us to do the same to just spend a moment pondering and maybe asking again for the maybe for the first time who is Jesus and if he is really who he said he is how does that change our life how does that change the world around us I love this child actor I just think she nails that pondering expression and

she’s young but mary herself was 15 16 years old when Jesus was born mary and joseph in some ways were just like the rest of us when we have kids just kids figuring out how life works and yet this story just becomes huge and big and it changes the world around them so in a second we’re going to do a couple of things we’re going to close our service by singing as we do every Christmas silent night by candlelight hopefully you had to get candle given to you when you came in and in a few minutes as aaron comes and leads us in another song oh come let us adore him I’m going to come over here and I’m going to light this center candle it’s called the christ candle it’s the moment that the waiting ends and we celebrate Jesus birth 2000 years ago if you have a story this year that has been maybe it’s been a tough year maybe you’ve

experienced something that you didn’t want to experience yet god has met you in it maybe you’ve had something to celebrate some big story and you’re thankful to god’s role in your life or his part in the journey with you we’d love to invite you to come and light from the christ candle doesn’t make you better than everyone else it just gives you an opportunity to celebrate that moment and then go and pass the late light to others remember if your your candle is lit you keep yours upright if it’s not lit you’re the one that turns yours to the side we do not want masks on fire we have an extra fire hazard this year and so we want to be extra cautious but I’d love us to stand as we do that and as we begin to sing we’re going to read this what’s called a liturgy together if you’ve never decided to follow Jesus for yourself you can make this a prayer

it’s a prayer of decision that says I would like to follow Jesus I would like to be on a journey with him it’s a moment of recognizing that this child came into the world to change everything about the way the world worked to give you new life and relationship with god so let’s read together god we we ask you to make our hearts clean that they may be worthy to become your dwelling place we want to find room for you come and live with us thank you that you turn up in strange places thank you that this is possible because of Jesus amen so if you’ve had one of those moments you can go ahead and come light your candle first Jesus thank you that each candle burning here burning in homes represents a soul a person that you love that you journeyed for so that you could journey with this Christmas season may we

ponder what your story means may we journey with you in fresh ways for each of my friends may they know the peace and joy of Christmas may they go share this light with the world around them amen feel free to blow your candles out friends if you blew them out through your mask your mask isn’t good enough that joke will not work next year I hope Merry Christmas everyone Merry Christmas have a wonderful Christmas

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2020 Christmas Eve Candlelight Service2024-03-07T12:00:15-07:00

Love All | Advent Conspiracy (Week 4)

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well good morning south I’m excited to be here with you today how about the student worship team this morning they did an amazing job uh they’ve been working uh so hard and just even a few months ago they started practicing and playing and just have done a great job leading us and so it’s such a joy to have them in here it’s been a joy for me to be back working with the students here at south I gotta had the privilege of being on staff here from 2015 to 19 and I was able to come back three months ago and working with these students an amazing team of volunteers great group of students that bring so much joy to me and to my wife who was also up here this morning singing which was awesome just so thankful for her and sharing her gifts with us today we also have one little guy named cooper he’s a year and a half now and usually

he’s here running around somewhere but this morning he’s home with grandma and so he had quite the start to his journey and I want to start off this morning just by asking you where were you on may 31st 2019 maybe that was just a random day to you if you think about it last year but to my wife hannah and I it was a day that changed everything for us uh hannah was 34 weeks pregnant at the time and we had both just finished our teaching for the year and we finished up our teacher work days and so that first day of summer break and I had still had to go up to school to lead a workout that I was doing as a coach and so hannah was going to stay home and sleep in that morning but she didn’t really feel that great she maybe thought it was something that she had ate and so I went into work and about 7 15 she called and she said she

wasn’t feeling well and she had called the doctor and they say you know just to be cautious you better come in um it’ll just be like a 20 minute appointment you’ll be fine and you’ll be able to go home so she calls me and tells me that she says I think I’m going to drive myself into the hospital and I you know being the supportive and caring husband that I am I said okay great um what I should have said was I will leave work right now go and pick you up and drive you in as it turns out she was having contractions two minutes apart driving herself to the hospital while I’m just off at work well at eight o’clock she calls me and says you know it appears the baby’s coming today and I said you know I’m swamped here at work I hope everything goes well no I did not say that I I at that time I got the hand I did come in and about 8 30 got there we went

back and by 2 pm cooper was born six weeks early um and that was a day that changed everything for our lives perhaps you can relate or to recall a certain day or period of days of your life that changed everything maybe it was graduating school or getting married having a child maybe even losing a loved one or having a job transition moving across the country these moments change our lives and I think in 2020 we’ve all had a few days like that maybe it’s not a certain day but I remember the week in march when life completely changed for us one by one things started to shut down and our gatherings our schools our sporting events church gatherings changed overnight it changed everything and even as things have started to reopen we still experience and feel those changes today well this morning we’re going to be looking at

an event and a person who has changed everything we are continuing on in our advent conspiracy series it’s been a four-week series in the first three weeks pastor alex has led us through uh the themes of worship fully to spend well and give more and this morning we’re going to be looking at the theme of love all the christmas season even in a pandemic can feel stressful and busy our hearts can feel weary and tired I’ve really enjoyed this series and been challenged and encouraged to reorient our lives on what is really important in this christmas season advent is a time of waiting time of hope it’s a time of preparing our hearts for the coming messiah it’s a reminder that even in a crazy and unsettling year our hope is anchored in our lord and savior Jesus christ who entered into our story to bring us the true peace and joy

that we long for and so this morning I want to begin with the claim that Jesus changes everything whereas the birth of our cooper certainly changed my wife and I’s lives and maybe those of you around us at church or the people that live next to us in our apartment when he’s crying in the middle of the night other than that I don’t think it may be affected your life as much but we all have events that do change our lives and this Jesus story that we celebrate at christmas time can truly change each and every one of our lives both individually and collectively and so this morning I want to dig into this and really look at how Jesus changes and transforms us from the inside out and so for the next two hours and 45 minutes we’re just really going to be digging in and no we’re not but my wife can tell you uh sometimes I can be

pretty difficult I’m a verbal processor I ask a lot of questions many nights will be lying in bed trying to fall asleep and I’ll be talking and trying to solve life’s problems for 15 or 20 minutes only to look over to discover that she’s fallen asleep my mind works that way I question things I can overthink things I ask questions maybe you do too and so this claim Jesus changes everything you walked in today and you saw in big letters our church’s mission statement living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus and we really believe that but whether you’ve been coming to church for a long time or if this is your first time coming in or tuning in online you might be wondering does Jesus actually change everything does this baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago truly changed my life and if so how how does Jesus’s birth and life impact

our everyday lives and relationships I think these questions are really important for us to to dig into and so we’re going to start with with these two questions this morning what is the story of Jesus and who is it for what is the story of Jesus and who is it for growing up I had a pretty good understanding of the bible of certain bible characters and stories but I think I struggled to see how it all connected I could tell you about david and abraham and noah and even Jesus but I didn’t really know how that all fit together the old testament seemed to have some cool and some weird stories and then bam Jesus came in the new testament and to me it didn’t seem all that connected and I’m really grateful to have great family and friends and professors who have really helped me understand scripture and I’m still learning and growing I’ve come across a

great website that I’ve shared with the students they know I love this site thebibleproject.com which I highly recommend but I began to see the bible to borrow their phrase as one unified story that leads to Jesus the old testament was not just a bunch of random unconnected stories but it was one story that was pointing and leading to the main event of Jesus christ when Jesus shows up on the scene he’s not just randomly entering the story he’s the long-awaited messiah come to save us from our sins and I’ve shared this with the students over the years and even in a sermon a few years ago here but I think it’s so important for us to know the story of scripture it begins with creation all the way back in genesis that God creates this world and we see the original design of humanity being created in God’s own image and in relationship with him in

just chapter 3 we see that corruption enters the picture as adam and eve sin and yet even in the midst of devastating consequences for sin that we all experience still today God extends grace in genesis 3 15 God in talking with the serpent in the garden promises an offspring of eve who will crush satan’s head and defeat evil much later in the story this offspring is referring to Jesus who would come onto the scene much later who would die on a cross and rise again we see this promise all the way back at the beginning of the story and the story continues through a series of covenants or partnerships that God makes with humanity with his people they serve as kind of the backbone of the story of scripture and they show how God pursues humanity each of them anticipate and point forward to the coming of christ God promises to noah that

despite humanity’s sin and evil he will never destroy the earth again he promises to abraham that through his offspring all nations of the earth would be blessed he later rescues israel from slavery and he gives them the law and promises to make them his holy set apart nation as they were meant to represent him to all the nations God promises david that a king would come from his lineage who would reign forever and extend God’s justice for all the covenants with abraham israel and david also had conditional elements that the people had to obey and while God’s chosen people time and time again do not fulfill their end of the deal God remains faithful to his promises and as the old testament continues and the story unfolds israel continues to wait with hope and longing the prophets talked about a day when the messiah would come and

the old testament ends and he had not come and so they waited 400 years past maybe God has forgotten his promises and then on to the scene comes Jesus christ that God is faithful that we celebrate at christmas his birth and is coming into humanity the God of the universe out of his deep love for us enters into our story bringing hope the messiah comes into our mess emmanuel God with us this baby fully God and fully man born in a humble manger he grows up he doesn’t stay in that manger he grows as a carpenter he begins his public ministry healing the sick and teaching with authority living a perfect life spending time with the poor and outcasts elevating those who are humble he fulfills each of the covenants he’s from the family of abraham who has come to bless the whole world he’s the perfect israelite who fully obeys the

law and he is in the line of david the king who extends God’s kingdom of justice and peace to all and will reign forever and this king is killed on a cross the savior of the world dying for sin God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God out of his deep love he dies on a cross while we were still sinners christ died for us but he doesn’t stay in the tomb Jesus rises from the dead on the third day conquering death and giving us hope through faith in him we can be in a relationship with God in his resurrection that we celebrate at easter time he later ascends into heaven sending the holy spirit to guide and direct us in our lives and the church is established and much of the new testament is letters written to these churches and individuals showing them and us how to live on mission as his disciples

living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus all the while we wait with hope and longing once again because Jesus is going to come back finally and fully defeating evil once for all and those who trust in Jesus will spend eternity with God and the new heavens and the new earth where there will be no more pain or suffering and this is the culmination of God’s perfect plan this is great news this is the christmas story it doesn’t end in a manger it’s a story of creation to the cross to the culmination of God’s plan in the future and this is our hope and the question remains then well who is this story for if you’ll turn with me this morning to luke chapter we’re going to dig in together luke chapter 2 throughout this series we’ve looked at part of this wonderful story this wonderful chapter the story of Jesus birth Jesus is born and the angels say

to the shepherds in luke 2 verses 10 and 11 do not be afraid I bring you good news that will cause you great joy for all the people today in the town of david a savior has been born to you he is messiah the lord this will be assigned to you you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger great joy for all people this story continues as Jesus a little bit later on is presented in the temple and so if you’ll turn with me to luke 2 verses 22-24 here’s what we read when the time came for the purification rites required by the law of moses joseph and mary took him to jerusalem to present him to the lord as it is written in the law of the lord every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the lord and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the law of the lord a pair of doves or two young pigeons these three verses are

strategic by luke as he specifically mentions the law and shows that Jesus obeys and fulfills the law of moses but then he’ll continue on to show how Jesus’s life is important for both jews and the gentiles for all people let’s continue reading in verses 25-28 now there was a man in jerusalem called simeon who was righteous and devout he was waiting for the consolation of israel and the holy spirit was on him it had been revealed to him by the holy spirit that he would not die before he had seen the lord’s messiah moved by the spirit he went into the temple courts when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the law required simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying and now but before we get into simeon’s words we need to introduce this character named simeon we don’t know a lot

about him but we see that he is righteous and devout the holy spirit is on him as he waits with anticipation for God to come and rescue israel he was told that he would not die before seeing the messiah the spirit guides him into the temple and after years and years of waiting he gets to hold the savior of the world in his arms can you imagine what he must have been feeling and experiencing and then he says these words verses 29-32 sovereign lord as you have promised you may now dismiss your servant and peace for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all nations a light for gentile to the light for revelation to the gentiles and the glory of your people israel salvation has been prepared in the sight of all nations for all people to the gentiles the non-jews and to the people of israel God’s love is

expansive it’s not limited to one people group or one geographical area but it’s for all people and we all have a need for a savior have a need for grace before closing simeon offers some closing comments of the divided response that Jesus would experience in his life verses 33 through 35 the child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him then simeon blessed them and said to mary his mother the child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed and a sword will pierce your own soul too simeon mentions the falling and rising of many in israel the reality is that some will reject Jesus while others would accept him and his good news of salvation some would oppose him and this would eventually lead him to

die on a cross and that would lead to sorrow for mary not all will respond in faith to Jesus’s free gift of love and grace and this brings us back to our our questions for today what is the story of Jesus and who is it for the story of Jesus is the good news of the long-awaited messiah entering into our story bringing hope and the free offer of salvation to all made available by faith the story of scripture is the story of God’s deep love for us that can change everything about us and in our time remaining I want us to see very practically how Jesus changes everything about us no matter how you came in today tired or weary overwhelmed relieved excited anything in between I believe that Jesus can change our lives and speak hope and life into all areas of our lives and so first we see that Jesus changes everything by transforming our stories we all enter

today with a story we’re all unique it’s one of the reasons I love working with students to partner with them on their story on their journey and point them to Jesus we long for our stories to matter and to have importance and yet I think we all wonder at times if our stories are all that important we might be stuck in the mundane or the ordinary routine of life doing the same thing over and over and wondering if it makes any difference we might have walked in today having felt shame and sadness about something in our past maybe this year brought a job transition or a loss of a loved one maybe we feel hopeless or scared about what is to come maybe we feel like God could never use us or never work through us and yet God can transform our stories I’d love for you to turn with me to matthew chapter 1. matthew chapter 1 the first

chapter in the new testament and perhaps if you come there you will see what appears on the surface to be the most boring chapter of the bible a genealogy a list of names so and so the son of so-and-so the son of so-and-so and on and on and on I remember reading that growing up being like wow this is boring um but in reality this is one of the most incredible chapters in the whole bible take a moment and glance over some of those names this is Jesus’s genealogy his lineage as you look through this list we see some names that we recognize abraham and david we might assume that his lineage is only full of important and well-known people people that have their lives all figured out and who are famous and yet that’s not what we find at all glance through this list with me in just a few of these names abraham a man of great faith certainly yet

a man who doubted at times and lied by saying his wife was his sister on two occasions judah joseph’s brother who suggested that they sell their brother into slavery rahab a gentile a former prostitute who acted courageously and was welcomed into God’s family ruth a former widow david a man after God’s own heart and yet a man who committed deep sin and we could go on and on these people are all part of God’s story part of his family they’re the family lineage of Jesus christ and these stories are wide-ranging and far across the spectrum and yet God transforms all of them and here is what we see through this that God works through imperfect and ordinary people to accomplish his perfect and extraordinary plan and I don’t know about you but that’s wonderful news to me the christmas story is a reminder that God can transform

our stories and invite us into his wonderful story that we get to join with him in spreading hope and love to others I love this quote from pastor and author rich velodes and he says this I’m deeply grateful that scripture isn’t a collection of sanitized stories for holy people of holy people it’s rather a collection of stories of ordinary broken people loved by God and made holy through a righteousness outside of themselves that’s great news broken ordinary people that God loves deeply and uses powerfully secondly that we see that Jesus changes everything by transforming our identities I believe we’re in a time where one of the most pressing questions is who are we the question of identity it’s so important for both students and adults alike it’s very easy to define ourselves by what we do or what we have done our jobs our career our income our

athletic ability our grades our achievements and yet none of these things can truly define who we are at our core perhaps for you 2020 rattled your identity a bit things that we thought were so sure our job our health our income have been altered in a year that brought a lot of change we can cling to the fact that we have our true identity in Jesus christ as we read in second corinthians 5 17 therefore if anyone is in christ the new creation has come the old has gone and the new is here by faith we are made new in Jesus we are part of his family we are God’s workmanship heirs of God members of the body of christ God’s children this is what is true about us even when we get tempted to believe lies about who we are we can always rest in what is most true about us in Jesus we find our true identity throughout his ministry Jesus

consistently transformed identities I think of the disciples people from a variety of backgrounds and situations and professions fishermen a tax collector and he transformed them to be his disciples his followers I think of Jesus’s interaction with the woman at the well in john 4 towards the beginning of his public ministry in this encounter she went from someone who was ashamed and rejected by others a woman who had had five husbands and now was living with a man who was not her husband to a woman who had met Jesus she leaves this encounter running into town telling people about Jesus and he can transform our identity too hebrews 13 8 says Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever he doesn’t just change us individually but collectively as well we now belong to one another in the body of christ first peter 2 says we are

a chosen people a royal priesthood a holy nation God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light we’re not designed to do life alone but instead together with each other and while this pandemic has caused us to have to navigate new guidelines and restrictions limitations let us press into doing life together we might have to get creative with a phone call or a zoom but we need each other as we live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus as Jesus unites us together across our differences the last thing that Jesus changes everything he transforms our stories our identities and lastly our hearts throughout the story of scripture we see the deep love of God for us he’s faithful to his promises and he pursues us relentlessly the christmas story is evidence of that love Jesus

entering into our story as paul writes so powerfully in romans 8 38-39 for I am convinced that neither death nor life neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future nor any powers neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in christ Jesus our lord nothing in all creation can separate us from his love not a pandemic not a sickness loss of a loved one a hard year nothing in him we find the love that we so desperately need and long for in him we are fully known and fully loved and it is from this place of being loved that we extend love to others today we’re in week four of the advent conspiracy series and the theme is to love all we’re invited to use the gifts and the resources that God has given us to love others worship fully spend well give more and love all I

wanted to spend the majority of the message today just talking about what Jesus has done for us that he truly does change everything our stories our identities our hearts and the christmas story is not just about some baby in some manger a couple thousand years ago the story is for all people and brings the true hope peace love and joy that we crave and need in his life death and resurrection Jesus is inviting us into his family ephesians 5 1 and 2 are two of my favorite verses in all of scripture and I think they tie this whole theme together well of today and from this series paul writes this follow God’s example therefore as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love just as christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God I love how paul writes exactly who we are dearly loved children and as dearly

loved children then he offers the command to walk in the way of love and that’s how we’re called to live and this christmas we’re invited into an opportunity to love those around us as pastor amy mentioned in the kids moment to love those who are different from us to love those who may be hard to love to love those in our immediate family those close to us our friends and relatives it might be a little different this year but we are called to love as Jesus loved sacrificially and generously one of my favorite authors is bob goff I love his books love does and everybody always and he puts it this way Jesus talked to his friends a lot about how we should identify ourselves he said it wouldn’t be what we said we believed or all the good we hoped to do someday nope he said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people

it’s tempting to think there’s more to it but there’s not love isn’t something we fall into love is someone we become I love that quote we’re called to love those around us with everything that we have using the gifts and the time and the resources that we have to encourage to bring hope in this christmas season I’ll throw in one more quote because I like him a lot but he says this don’t save up love like you’re trying to retire on it give it away like you’re made of it and that’s my challenge to each of us today I don’t know what that looks like exactly for you and we have to be smart and consider it in the season with the pandemic but it starts in our home in our family with our roommates spread to our communities our neighborhoods our schools our city our state and beyond as first john 4 19 says we love because he first loved us and that

changes everything let’s pray dearly father I thank you so much for today I thank you each for each person who could be here and joining in online I pray lord that you would wrap us in your arms that we would experience your love that this christmas season and what has been a hard and trying year I pray that each and every one of us would feel and experience your love and we would spread that love with boldness and generosity to those around us we thank you for what you’ve done for us in Jesus name amen thank you so much billy I just love this staff team here it’s just so incredible to have so many people that can do so many things and and billy’s been working along with hannah with our students for the last three months as he said and he’s been doing that part-time while he’s also teaching while also coaching basketball and here’s the

amazing thing when you throw out the word part-time that always gets me I used to do that role as well and yeah I never preached half a sermon I never sat through half a counseling session I was never at half an event it was always full time as well so I’m so appreciative of of both of you guys for all that you’re doing with with our students uh I just wanted to do something that’s a little in-house at the moment um many of you all know carolyn schmidt she’s a dear friend of south and and carolyn has has covered at the moment and she’s in icu um and we wanted to just gather as a community and pray for her um would we do that for everyone maybe um will we do it for carolyn definitely I just like her more than I like you guys no I’m joking I just prefer her to no it’s but I do want to just gather and just be thankful for

carolyn and the 64 years that she’s been involved in this community for eric and she and she they’re here every week and it’s just an incredible blessing to our community so we’re just going to gather and pause God when we don’t know how to pray we’re told that you pray through us with groanings with moanings with words that we don’t understand and we are jealous for carolyn she is our dear friend and we love her and we pray that you will bring healing to her we’re thankful for this story that she has with you that she has this eternal security in you that you’d love her and you know her but we love her and long for her to be with us and so we pray for your healing now we pray that you bring strength to our body we pray for wisdom for doctors that the doctors and nurses that are working with it today I pray

that they would be wide awake well hydrated strong able to think things through able to hear from you even if they’re not aware of it I pray they will be guided by wisdom from above and the decisions that they make we thank you for people like that all over the country all over the world that are helping people deal with kovid and all other sicknesses and so we pray for each person in our community too that is sick right now thank you that you God of healing but we do pray for our friend carolyn make us strong thank you Jesus amen I’m going to close us with the benediction that billy gave in the first service it’s from ephesians chapter 3 I pray that out of his glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being so that christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and I pray that you being rooted and established

in love may have power together with all God’s people to grasp how wide how long and how high that love really is this morning maybe you go with that love may you know it and may you share it with the world around you boldly and confidently go in peace friends have a great sunday

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Love All | Advent Conspiracy (Week 4)2022-01-27T11:23:18-07:00

Give More | Advent Conspiracy (Week 3)

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I love it the patience of a mother to be able to be strangled on camera and still just keep going with uh everything you’re supposed to say way to go aaron and rome uh ramon that’s wonderful uh welcome friends if you’re visiting my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here it’s great to have you with us today we’re in a series though it’s called advent conspiracy uh this is the third week uh where we’ll be talking about the theme of give more now if it seems somewhat sort of contradictory to say on one week spend less and then the next week give more or will become apparent as we move on but I’m going to start with a passage we’re going to read an extended passage from the bible if you’re unfamiliar uh you can listen if you’ve got a text in front of you feel free to open it we’re going to read from luke chapter one we’re going to

start in verse 30 and we’re going to read a couple of selections and I’ll I’ll just prompt you if you want to follow through and this is going to help us tap into the the narrative of of advent so here we go first 30 but the angel said to her do not be afraid mary you have found favor with God you will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus he will be great and will be called the son of the most high the lord God will give him the throne of his father david and he will reign over jacob’s descendants forever his kingdom will never end how will this be mary asked the angel since I am a virgin the angel answered the holy spirit will come on you the power of the most high will overshadow you so the holy one to be born will be called the son of God even elizabeth your relative who is go is going to have a child in her old age and she who

was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month for no word from God will ever fail I am the lord’s servant mary answered may your word to me be fulfilled then the angel left her and we’re going to jump across to luke chapter 2 the next page in those days caesar augustus issued a degree that a census should be taken of the entire roman world this was the first census which took place while queerness was governor of syria and everyone went to their own town to register so joseph also went up from the town of nazareth to galilee in judea to bethlehem the town of david because he belonged to the house and line of david he went there to register with mary who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child while they were there the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn a son she

wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night an angel of the lord appeared to them and the glory of the lord shun around them and they were terrified but the angel said to them do not be afraid I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people today in the town of david a savior has been born to you he is the messiah the lord this will be assigned to you you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God saying glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests when the angels had left them and gone into heaven the shepherds said to one

another let’s go to bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the lord has told us about so they hurried off and found mary and joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger when they had seen him they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherd said to them but mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told let’s pray at Jesus as we gather as a community whether watching online whether here in person thank you that you’re present with us as we learn continue to shape us into the people that you want us to be we are a group of people that hope to live in your way in the way of

Jesus with the heart of Jesus may you transform us where we need transforming you breathed in this book and it became alive and as we look at it breathing us so that we might be alive in new ways thank you amen so here we go we’re going to start uh with a tale of wool so still fairly new to colorado uh still learning the ropes still doing coloradan things for the first time and my family and I we love skiing I’ve been skiing for years and years and so we bought some passes up to keystone mountain and you know we have the season ticket now but this was our first adventure up there so this week we decided on friday we’re going to take the whole family to go uh it’s going to be great we’re gonna have a great great time so up we went along I-70 this was the furthest west that we’d been we’d never been past genesee park before and and I was

told by my gps that I listened to uh carefully to get off I-70 at exit 216 which is loveland pass to get to keystone now any of you that have been to keystone know there is a much better way to get to keystone that doesn’t involve going along loveland pass but loveland pass looks something like this it has no sides to the road it just drops off into abysses it was covered in snow and the snow was still coming down and you could see almost nothing and there we went adventuring along now I if I say so myself I think we handled it fairly well we were cruising along at a steady 30 miles an hour but apparently my non-coloradan driving was not fast enough for coloradan driving and so regularly we had these people scream past us on the outside who were in a hurry to get somewhere apparently there was good snow waiting somewhere but but

we made it over the top of the mountain for no reason we could have just gone round but we went up and we went down the other side and all was well this wasn’t the bad part of the story uh we had planned this delightful day of skiing and I had pictured it looking something like this there we are you know family on the top of the mountain skiing away again my two girls ski fairly well this was not completely unoptimistic waving our poles around and and just enjoying you know the the blue sky and the mountains what I had forgotten was this we are not a family of four we’re a family of five um and the fifth member of our quintet as it were uh is this little fellow right here we’ve got a delightful little photo of him uh now he had never been skiing before so when we got there we all got our stuff on and there we are out you know ready to ski

I put his first ski on for the first time and he was positively delighted super excited I then attached the second ski and he became furious now the reason we think for this is this uh he has this show that he loves called blippi if you are a parent of young kids or a grandparent blippi is a godsend let me give you that as a free gift he just taught our kid to count to 17 or 18 and he knows every color and everything and he knows what sinks and floats all because of blippi but blippi doesn’t ski bliffy snowboards um and and and so when we put the first ski on he was fine but what he was upset about was that we didn’t attach his second foot to the first ski so when we put a second one and he was no longer like blippi suddenly a sweet little boy that looks like this some of the time turned into this raging monster so he’s still young enough that I can get

away with showing these videos of him and one day they’ll be on the internet and he’ll get to look back and see what suffering he caused and why potentially he has no other siblings other than the two he already has um but he sounds like a small t-rex calling for his mother it’s just the anger is just there and so laura’s skiing time looked like sitting on the snow holding a child consoling him well I took the two girls to do a couple of you know runs and and then we’d not skied in colorado before so our skis iced up because they weren’t waxed well enough apparently and so I spent my time stood on the side of the mountain scraping ice off the bottom of skis with a credit card until I turned to laura and said hey we gotta go we just have to write this thing off and go home and call it a day because otherwise someone’s going to get

ptsd and we’re going to leave colorado which should be like sorry south we’re done we’re out of here we got to go home um so we did and and it was the best decision that we’ve made it reminded me of this meme that’s been popular since about september that goes something like this how it started how it’s going doesn’t it just reflect 2020 how it started it may have been a dumpster to start with now it’s one on fire um there’s another option here you know the the cute romantic couple with the puppy they just bought and now no romantic couple just a girl and a dog um or how about this one how it started how it’s going it’s just that like ah and I think we’ve all felt a little bit like tom hanks at the end of this 2020 year right which the beard’s chrome we’re just we’re just a mess and that’s how I felt after a couple of hours on keystone

mountain with my kids or especially my third kid and here’s here’s what it makes me wonder we’ve just sung a ton of songs about these characters that appear in the traditional nativity story we’ve had mary and joseph we’ve had the shepherds we’ve had the the wise men otherwise known as the maggai and we’re going to take a brief look at each of these characters as we talk about this theme of give more because I have this feeling that each one of these characters will we romanticize the story and I think we’ve romanticized them as well because I suspect that each one of them in this story as we look at specific parts had this temptation to say we should just be done with this this story is insane what are we doing here where are we going what does this even look like what are we investing in there’s got to be some questions

just look at some of the cost of the story so this is mary this is her entrance into the story an angel appears to her and says do not be afraid mary you have found favor with God you will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus he will be great and will be called son of the most high the lord God will give him the throne of his father david and he will reign over jacob’s descendants forever his kingdom will never end how will this be mary asked the angel since I am a virgin the angel answered the holy spirit will come on you and the power of the most high will overshadow you so the holy one to be born will be called the son of God mary’s invite into this story she’s invited into just brokenness really I mean she’s a 14 maybe 15 maybe 16 year old girl who finds out she is pregnant imagine the conversations with her family

that take place imagine the sense of public shame and yet she responds with maybe the greatest faith declaration of all time this is from the message version and mary said yes I see it all now and the lord’s maid ready to serve let it be with me just as you say she jumps into God’s story with all of her heart she’s willing to sacrifice for this story and then I wonder how she feels at different points of her journey jumping in at the start is one thing but what does it mean as that story continues through nine months of child of carrying a child through the birth itself think about this moment this is in math in luke chapter two in those days caesar augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire roman world this was the first census which took place while quirinus was governor of syria and everyone went to their own

town to register so joseph also went up from the town of nazareth in galilee to judea to bethlehem the town of david bethlehem is a hundred miles from nazareth for those of you that have carried a child imagine at seven eight months pregnant suddenly your husband turns around to you and says oh by the way we’re just going to take a journey on donkey back to to a town about 100 miles away there would be no question for most of us I am not entering into that story and think about mary and her engagement in this story as she travels where am I going what am I involved in where does this story end while they were there the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth birth to her firstborn son firstborn a son she wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them

not only is this journey 100 miles but when she gets there there is no space we know the traditional story right no room at the end and when it says that there was no guest room available what this means is that most houses of the time would have a a room that was set aside somewhat for for animals to stay and attached to the house and and they would be in there in amongst all of these animals with all the noise and we’ve romanticized that as well we think of these animals maybe sleeping peacefully or maybe just glancing over at the baby just but no this was a mess and it was smelly and for the dream of the first child it was certainly not what you were hoping for think about mary’s involvement in the story and then how about these guys and then there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over

their flux at night an angel of the lord appeared to them and the glory of the lord shunned round them and they were terrified but the angel said to them do not be afraid I bring you good news that will bring you great joy for all the people today in the town of david a savior has been born to you he is the messiah the lord so they hurried off and found mary and joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger they cut out on their shift they just left in the middle of the day they just said we’re done for now we’re going to find a baby and did they ever stop and wander what happens if there’s nothing there what happens if we get back and all the sheep are dead or run away or something what if we lose our position these are guys that worked for somebody who was important or wealthy they were dependent on somebody else for a living

and their story involves sacrifice as well and then these guys the magi who are super mysterious we know almost nothing about them after Jesus was born in bethlehem in judea during the time of king herod maggie from the east came to jerusalem and asked where is the one who has been born king of the jews we saw his star when it arose and we’ve come to worship him they’re astrologers part of an ancient mystic religion maybe zoroastrians or something like that and they see a star in the sky and they get up and they begin a journey and how many times during that journey did they question what they were doing as a little aside for you you can see the christmas star as it’s called for the first time in 800 years on the 21st of december it’ll be up in the sky just around sunset and it’s when ju when jupiter and saturn sort

of become really close to each other but some kind of sort of cosmic thing like this got these guys to jump up and make a journey did God put it there we don’t know did it just appear magically we don’t know how it came to be but something drew them somehow and this is incredible God chose to meet them where they were involved in the religion the practices they were that he got out of he he provided for them in that moment and there’s this prophecy back way in the old testament in a book called numbers in chapter 23 I see him but not now I behold him but not near a star will come out of jacob maybe that’s why matthew feels it’s so important to write about this star that these magi followed but for whatever reason they got up from where they were and they began this journey chasing after this star that seemed to move and

seemed like it was going to land on a particular spot this is the journey that they may have taken they probably came from either somewhere in the babylon region or perhaps down in yemen this was a road that was called the incense road travelers or tradesmen would take this road from yemen up towards egypt and up towards israel and jordan and they would sell their spices wherever they went but these guys aren’t tradesmen these guys are stargazers prophets they probably work for one of the local rulers they’re probably fairly wealthy they’re used to these beautiful terrorist terraces overlooking sunsets they’re used to warm climates and suddenly after gazing at a star they begin this journey they get up they leave their palaces and they begin to walk they begin to journey and as they would have journeyed up this pathway

and this is we’re talking about 1800 miles or something like this this was just like if laura and I were moving from new york said you know what forget about getting on a plane we’re going to get on a camel and we’re going to go to colorado that way this is the same experience that these guys had and as they got more and more northerly the snow would have been begin to be present in the hills as they made their way up in the wintertime and the climate would become something that they’d never seen before the writer t.s eliot sort of taps into this with his poem the journey of the magi a cold coming we had of it just the worst time of the year for a journey and such a long journey the ways deep in the weather sharp the very dead of winter a hard time we had of it at the end we preferred to travel all night sleeping in snatches with

voices singing in our ears saying that this was all folly eighteen hundred miles of journeying on camelback after a star and at some point there’s the question that comes up what am I following where am I going what does this look like when we get there they don’t know exactly where they’re going they turn up at a couple of towns before arriving finally in bethlehem but there’s this journey that they’re on and this must be this question that comes up is this a mistake the same question that I have on the keystone mountain the same question we all have about 2020. I think at some point curse to these guys like what what are we doing here and what we notice is that each character gives something for the story the story costs them in some way it’s not just plain sailing it’s not just easy mary gives up respectability not everyone

will believe her story the shepherds they give up job security they leave their charges in the middle of the day and just go off to find this baby and the mag eye they give gifts they give up wealth but more than anything they give the time of a journey a month’s long journey and then a return chasing after a start it costs every single one of them something and then here’s what makes the christmas story the christmas story here’s what makes it truly magical the character that does the least in the story has given the most for the story because this baby doesn’t move it’s dependent on everybody else it’s completely static and yet he is the central part of the story and as much as the rest of them have given the the Jesus story tells us that he gave more that his journey doesn’t start as a baby it doesn’t start in bethlehem or nazareth it starts at this

moment where a guard in heaven says that you were worth the journey from divinity to humanity you were the journey worth the journey from the eternity to the present now that you were worth limiting himself to the the footsteps of a human being the amount that a human being could travel in a day and ultimately worth dying for so that you could live a different story that’s what makes this story the magical that’s what makes it majestic maybe a better word than magical that’s what makes this story captivating the character that does the least in the story has given the most for the story because we understand having no power and getting power but we very rarely understand having power and giving it up and that’s what paul this new testament writer says about this story who being in very nature God did not consider

equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather he made himself nothing the most innocent the most helpless creature this human baby that needs somebody for everything this is what God becomes in search of your heart and my heart his journey begins in the moment that he decides that that is worth the cost as much as they give to this story he has given more to this story and here’s something that I’ve just been contemplating participation in this story for us should or could cost you something or everything now for those of you that are not part of this Jesus thing you’re kind of on the fringes I’m gonna give you a space just to step aside feel free to listen in but but there’s this whole church conversation that’s gone on for years about faith versus works and I just want to just touch on that because we have this

tendency to think that well because we can’t earn what God has done for us that it won’t cost us anything and I’m not sure that’s completely accurate even paul this new testament writer will sort of tap into this idea what is more I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing christ Jesus my lord for whose sake I have lost all things I consider them garbage that I may gain christ yes the the work of Jesus is this free gift but but participation in the story it may cost you something it may cost you everything when paul looks for a word to describe this he uses this word zamir which is kind of like the connotation of you know sometimes you just have a you give a bad loan and you know you’re not getting the money back I once bought a car off one of those dealers on the side of the road and it was an audi a6 it

looked fantastic and I was sure I got a fantastic deal I paid about three and a half thousand dollars for it and the internet told me it was worth six so I was like I saved two and a half thousand dollars I really took this sucker I won uh and then I got it home and it sat on the driveway overnight and when I got up the next morning every type of fluid that could drain from a car was now over my driveway so I took it to my mechanic and said what do you think and he said it’s a really nice looking car if you spend about two and a half thousand dollars on it then you’ll have a car that’s you know drivable and worth something I didn’t take the guy at all he took me less than if you’re ever buying a car don’t buy a car off one of these guys but but I had to write off that two and a half thousand dollars it’s just done it’s just it was a bad

investment and that’s how paul talks about everything that he has given up wasn’t wasn’t worth anything compared to what I have now I’m I’m willing to write it off everything that I thought I’ve given up was worth it when we think about this nativity scene while the the traditional scene doesn’t ever happen while there is never a moment where shepherds and maggie and mary and joseph and the donkey and whoever else are gathered around the baby well that never happens every one of them does at some point in the story have a moment that’s somewhat like this where they gaze at this child and they’re like everything that I thought it cost me it was worth it it was absolutely for mary all of the journey of child birth it was worth it for the shepherds the risk of the job worth it for the mag eye the journey it was worth it this

is the end of t.s eliot’s poem and I would do it again but set down this set down this will we led all that way for birth or death there was a birth certainly we had evidence and no doubt I had seen birth and death but I thought they were different this birth was hard and bitter agony for us like death our death and we return to our palaces these kingdoms but no longer at ease here in the old dispensation with an alien people clutching their guards I should be glad of another death these magi in this story they see this baby that has been born and suddenly everything that they have thought important dies everything they have followed dies and in this moment as he gets back to his palace he’s like ah I would give everything to have that moment again to be part of that story to something about this story that has captivated them the same with the

shepherds they don’t even go back to their sheep straight away they go off shouting the news in the streets this is what we have seen there’s something about this story when you enter into it it just captivates you it grabs you in this incredible way I think this is true you give and you gain and you do it again when you give into this story when you sacrifice for this story you find that you didn’t actually lose at all that’s what every single one of these characters in our nativity drama find when they gave for the story they found it was worth it and they would do it over again you give and you gain and you do it again and here’s what I wonder I wonder if we lose some of the the wonder of what were invited into because for thousands of years religions were built around this philosophy there was priests people who sat on platforms or provided

sacrifices and there was everybody else they got to participate and you didn’t and then Jesus comes along and changes all of that and suddenly there’s this thing that now you get to participate you’re invited in peter the new testament writer says it like this but you are a chosen people a royal priesthood a holy nation God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light what a wonderful way to articulate what Jesus has done and it comes with this idea of a royal priesthood you are you are involved we’re invited in and that’s an amazing thing so I’d love us to just think through a little bit this idea of like well if the story has captivated us this year how might we enter into it more fully what might we give that will enable us to to connect with this story in new ways how

might we find opportunities to give in this new year so here’s a question I want to give you some practical stuff how can we give at home last week we talked about this idea of buying presents from david instead of goliath and while presents are a part of christmas that I don’t think will go away anytime soon here’s a challenge give physical presence not just lots of presents in your christmas season choose to be present with people choose to find ways to connect even though that’s difficult with this time of year this pandemic that might involve sitting in a computer in front of a computer screen for a while it might involve sitting outside around a heater it might involve being ones and twos instead of tens and twelves find ways to give presents to your family this year find ways to say I want to enter into engaging with you

but not just this here’s another stretch give emotional presence not just physical presence here’s what I find to be true about myself it’s possible for me to be present but without really being there I have this phone that I get to play and I have this ipad that I get to mess around with I have loads of sports news to keep up with I have all these things to do and it’s possible for me to be in the room without really being in the room my kids have caught on to this we have this family show that we watch together they’ve seen every episode so many times they know it by heart and now their favorite thing to do is this they’ll sit and stare at me as we watch together and every moment I get distracted every tendency I have to pick up the phone they’re like wait you’ve got to watch this part you’ve got to watch this part you they know when I’m

emotionally present or not this might involve actually practically thinking through I’m going to put my phone down when I walk through the door I’m going to leave it somewhere where I can’t get to it the emails will come but actually they may not be as urgent as you think they are you’re invited not just to be present but to be emotionally present as well and here’s a third step and this is for you that are choosing to follow Jesus and if that’s not you right now this is fine um but for those of you that are give spiritual presence not just emotional presence and this is a gentle push to you fathers particularly there’s a tendency for us as guys to to just sort of allow or force the whole spiritual development of our family onto our wives unto the mothers for some reason mothers are better at times picking up this responsibility than guys

choosing to take that responsibility at christmas to lead your family into this christmas story is actually just a privilege that you get to have this year choose to be spiritually present in this christmas season and not just emotionally present choose to take that leadership of your family and lead them through the christmas journey together give physical presence not just lots of presence give emotional presence not just physical presence give spiritual presence not just emotional presence as you give to that story I think you’ll find that it’s it’s just been worth it that it will create a different sense of God’s presence in your home this christmas season but finally what can we give at south we know that you love this community we want to give you ways and potential to serve and be part of what we do this christmas season so here’s a few

things give it yourself not somebody else God brought you here for some reason you have some gift that other people don’t have you have something that you bring that is valuable that is worthwhile and that’s a wonderful thing we have some people that work at this church on the staff team that they’re they’re weird um like they’re the sort of people that have their passports in a place where they know where they are and if you go to the drawer by the the door or the garage there’s like jumper cables and things like that and practical things that you actually might need when it snows their driveways are cleared they don’t just become iced over they have these weird orga organizational tendencies that I don’t have and they keep this place running well they keep it running smoothly because they are different to me I’m not better

they’re not better but it’s just different gifts working together and that is a wonderful thing and you you bring something don’t try and be somebody else bring what you have if you love engaging with prayer then then be involved in engaging with prayer if you love serving on a door then stand on a door with joy if you love playing music then enjoy playing music but bring who you are because you you are needed in this story give with joy and not with guilt we’re going to invite you into all sorts of giving opportunities both in terms of your time and your money because we we think that you value them but don’t do it because you feel guilty give it because God has given you the privilege of being involved in this story give out of joy and not out of guilt we’re doing end of year giving and we’re going to talk in a second about our

christmas eve offering but it’s supposed to be a joyous thing not a guilt driven thing give to a story that is bigger than you this is what we see in this nativity story right every single one of them with all their sacrifices finds that they’ve suddenly landed in a story that is bigger than they could possibly have imagined possible a story that is changing the world and south is just a little part of that story in a little part of the world and yet it’s where God has called each of us that calls south home it’s where he’s called us to land in this season we’d love to invite you into helping south do what south is helping other people do in the world around us so we’re going to finish by watching this video that’s going to introduce our christmas eve giving opportunity none of this money is going to south it’s all going directly to help another organization so here

we go we’re tyler and amy maxwell we’ve been serving in nairobi kenya for the last six years working with street boys so a street boy is a boy or a young man who lives out on the street these boys have no place to live they scrape for their food they look through the trash for recyclables to sell to buy things and they’re really shunned by the community the community thinks that they are the least of the least there’s an estimated 100 million street children worldwide in kenya we estimate there’s 500 000 street boys so it’s definitely not a kenya problem it’s a worldwide problem 2020 has proven to be quite challenging for both our family and for the ministry in kenya like we know it has been for many of you as well in kenya the government restrictions have made it quite difficult to gather in large groups while we work

with the boys and girls on the street but we have adapted our ministry to continue working with them daily one of the challenges that we found quite difficult is having a location where the boys and girls can come and get away from the street be themselves we can feed them they can bathe and we can share the word of God with them when you’re depending on other people’s uh property to do your ministry it becomes very frustrating and challenging we’ve responded to that challenge now we’re looking for a piece of land where the boys can come seven days a week they can hear the the word of God we can feed them they can get away from the violence on the streets and it’s just a place that they can feel free and it’s their place our passion and desire is to see the lives of these boys and girls transformed for christ and we

believe that having this type of center where they can encounter the love of christ is an essential part the street ministry is how we’re able to get these kids off the streets and their lives turned around currently we have 10 kids off the street eight of them are boys and two of them are girls five of these are in high school and five of these are in vocational training and 2020 has been mostly online learning but the kids are looking forward to having in person school starting in 2021 our goal in 2021 is to double that number we want to have 20 kids off the street in school and vocational training school in kenya is not free we pay somewhere between 1200 and 1500 per kid per year we want to thank south fellowship for being a huge part of this ministry and playing that role and transforming the lives of these kids in swahili we

want to say and moon that means we are blessed by all of you and God bless you all so we’ve been as a community community supporting tyler and amy for a while as they continue to work out there this year we’ve chosen them to receive our christmas eve offering we would love to take this goal that they have of buying a piece of land to be able to do this ministry more completely to provide this safe space as something that we would love to help them on the journey through so that’s where all of our christmas eve offering is going if we can do that for them man what a story of transformation what a way for us to enter into a bigger story this year so we’d love to present that to you as something for you to consider you can go online at southfellowship.org stroke give there’s a drop down menu that allows you to give to the

christmas eve offering you can give it our christmas eve services if you’d like to do it that way as well but thank you for participating in south’s calling to be part of the biggest story in the world around us I’m going to invite aaron and the team back on stage we’re going to close with some prayer Jesus thank you for your incredible story thank you for each character that comes into it each character that just must have at some point questioned whether this was all folly and yet we see this wonderful moment where they experience the birth you experience your entry your incarnation into this world and it seems like that moment creates the sense of ah it was all worth it I would do it again thank you for your calling to us to immerse ourselves in the story may we connect with that story in new ways this christmas seasonperhaps you haven’t chosen

to follow Jesus for yourself maybe you’re watching online maybe you’re here in person you can jump into this Jesus story this year you can in this moment say ah I definitely have this tendency that all of us have to go my own way the whole purpose of Jesus coming was to lead us back into a better story he gave his life for each of us that we could have a different life that we could have forgiveness that we could have a new relationship with God you’re invited into that you don’t have to do anything it may cost you something you may lose something something that you find very important but he comes and gives it as a free gift all you have to do in this moment is ask for his help in going in his direction and we’d love to know if you did that

for the rest of us may we be challenged by how we give this christmas may we jump into opportunities to serve here itself for those of you that are registered for christmas eve we would love to have your help come to one service but help at another service jump in and help support tyler and amy let’s provide some land for these incredible boys in kenya to be able to experience a different quality of life let’s embrace the challenge that God has for us as a community thank you Jesus you’ve been present with us amen

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Give More | Advent Conspiracy (Week 3)2022-01-27T11:18:00-07:00

Spend Well | Advent Conspiracy (Week 2)

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amen great stuff uh so welcome everyone again for the second time for me third time from everyone my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re delighted that you are we’re gonna start by reading a passage from haggai but let me first just say if you tried in obedience to dan’s command to try and register for a christmas eve service today you probably found that they’re all full so we are working on that we’ll have some solutions to that whether it’s more services or finding more space but we just know there’s attention there so um but thank you for trying to register and we’ll figure it out uh this week I’m gonna start with haggai chapter one you may never have read haggai it’s an old testament book it’s about two pages long you could go home and read it in about four and a half minutes this afternoon if you

wanted to and the start of it says this in the second year of king darius on the first day of the sixth month the word of the lord through the prophet haggai to zerubbabel son of seattle governor of judea a lot of names there you’re tracking so far hopefully and to joshua son of jose the high priest and then this is the message this is what the lord almighty says these people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the lord’s house then the word of the lord came through the prophet haggai is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses while this house of the lord remains a ruin now this is what the lord almighty says give careful thought to your ways you have planted much but harvested little you have you eat but never have enough you drink but never have your fill you put on clothes but are not warm you earn wages only to

put them in a purse with holes in it so we’re gonna leave haggai for a second let’s pray and we’re gonna talk about some stuff and get back to haggai Jesus thank you that you’re present here with us thank you for this book that you breathed in and made it live and we pray as a group of people listening you would breathe into us and make us alive in new ways God would you uh take the comfortable amongst us and afflict us would you take the afflicted amongst us and bring us comfort would you do what you do regularly which is to turn up and change lives may we be transformed people ah man so we’ll get back to haggai we’re in a series called advent conspiracy it’s a series that churches all over the country take part in um and it’s based on these four tenets worship fully spend less give more and love all and we are weak to spend

less which is easily the most boring of the three so stick with me I thought about paying you to stay awake but that would have gone against the principle of spend less so I decided it wasn’t the best option for us and we’re just going to trust you to stay awake but we’re going to start in for a second not talking about haggai but by talking about the graffiti art scene in england in bristol in the 1980s uh bizarrely and you may know nothing about graffiti in this one season a bunch of incredible graffiti artists turned up in one spot at the same time now when I say graffiti there’s a chance a chance that you hear this so this is a fence way as you drive down the m40 highway in england uh while you’re sat in traffic that’s about three or four hours long you know just these huge traffic jams trying to get into the city someone has painted why do I still

do this every day on a side under the fence and of course you get to sit and contemplate now this isn’t the graffiti we’re talking about although it might be that this is actually a little more poignant than we might think to start with we’re talking about graffiti like this so this is the work of a guy called banksy and a lot of his art has this consumerist question it talks about consumerism and asks questions about why we participate in the system that we do so here we’ve got a group of people worshiping at a sale ends today sign the next one we’ve got someone jumping off a building to catch a falling shopping cart because they’re so desperate for the goods in it uh how about a third one where someone’s actually trapped inside a shopping cart hopefully not the same one that fell from the top of the building and then um the

fourth one here someone has run like a it’s a shopping bag of a shopping store in england and they’re doing a pledge of allegiance to say that they will participate in the ways of consumerism with all of their hearts even at the young age that they are and then this one this is a little girl who’s lost this blue and it suddenly disappeared from her grasp she had it for a moment and then it’s gone and this piece of work was one of the last known banksy works that was available to purchase and went on a sale at christie’s or sotheby’s sometime a couple of years ago and I just want you to watch what happens as it goes on sale so I love what’s going on here you have on one hand the deliciousness of a piece of work that’s talking about the problem of consumerism going on sale for over a million dollars and then what had happened is the artist

when he put it in the frame had built a shredder into the frame so the moment that it’s purchased he hits the button and the picture shreds theoretically destroying all of its value but then another delicious twist this same picture the same piece of artwork sold later for more money than it sold the first time because its fame had increased because it was the shredded picture isn’t there something fascinating going on with our understanding of consumerism there and what value is and then check out go let’s go back to haggai and think about what haggai says give careful thought to your ways you have planted much but harvested little you eat but never have enough you drink but never have your fill you put on clothes but are not warm you earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it it’s this sort of message about

the system now when you hear haggai and I say he’s a prophet if you’re unfamiliar with this whole church thing you may hear something like this this is zoltar uh and this is laura getting her sort of fortune telling from zoltar at some place we were by the ocean and zoltar is a guy that will theoretically tell your fortune for five dollars or something like that and it probably works I’m sure spend your money it’s fine uh maybe it works who knows I’m no cynic but this is not what the bible understands by the idea of profit we think profit we think prediction about the future but this isn’t really where the bible would land when the bible talks about prophets it’s talking far much far more like banksy it’s talking activist so think about these four people you’ve got bono who’s done work with um with poverty all over the world you’ve got malala

who’s done work with kids education in place especially for women in places like india pakistan where young women aren’t entitled to education you’ve got greta thumbberg and the bottom left talking about climate change you’ve got martin luther king talking about race relation now you may hate any of those people and that’s actually good for the illustration because a prophet got under your skin an old testament prophet while they may have heard a message from garden that’s accurate that message wasn’t so much on this day this will happen on the next day this will happen that message was society is broken keep acting this way and judgment will inevitably follow if you keep operating a society on these lines you will end up with a problem really really fast that was the idea of profit doesn’t take away the fact that God spoke

to them but their message was not about on dot dot day this will happen it was stop living this way that’s what you see with haggai you can’t live this way this is broken you can’t keep doing this to yourselves so that’s what we hear when we hear profit far more zach delarocka from rage against the machine check check out these lyrics and see how they tie in with what we just read in haggai play it again jack and then rewind the tape and then play it again and again and again until your mind is locked in believing all the lies that they’re telling you buying all the products that they’re selling you they say jump and you say how high that’s the consumerist message right that’s what we buy into and that’s what haggai saw haggai came back from captivity his whole nation had been taken into captivity and then through miraculous

circumstances they ended up back in their home country they’d been led by two incredible leaders one guy who’d helped them rebuild the wars and one guy who’d helped them rebuild the temple but when haggai returned instead of a focus on this what he found was a group of people that were far more interested in trade agreements far more interested in what they could get out of society far more interested in making an extra buck than people that were interested in building the temple or building the wars he saw a society that was broken that were chasing the consumerist dream and so when we read haggai when we look into these things this is what we’re talking about I would suggest that we know this to be true we need to experience tension when it comes to how we spend our money and if you’re uncertain about

that fact Jesus talked about money more than any other subject over half of his parables contain the subject of of money and how you handle your wealth it’s all over his thinking and so it’s something that I would love us to wrestle with and so I’d love to do that through a series of questions first question is this what would you do if you could buy whatever you wanted if you could just go out and just splash cash at whatever you wanted now the first thing that you might do is that you might say that well I’d have a short sharp conversation with my boss because work would definitely not be on the agenda to start with that was the answer that most of the church staff when I gave them the question well I would done with you in this place I didn’t say that that wouldn’t be right they’re here forever don’t worry um what would you do

if you could buy whatever you wanted one guy got an answer to that question this is luke brett moore he tried to transfer 5 000 from a bank account that had no money in it and the transfer went through moved it to another account and then moved 50 000 and it went through again so he just kept moving more and more money and each transfer went through until he eventually spent around two million dollars just by transferring money that he didn’t have but what was fascinating is this the first thing he did was buy a car and then he bought another car because that car was no longer good enough and then when that car was no longer good enough he bought another car so he went from a honda civic fairly basic requirement to a hyundai velostar and then finally to a maserati and with every step he found actually buying

whatever he wanted just wasn’t enough somewhere there was this still this sense of dissatisfaction still this sense of ah I need something more the answer to the question what would you do if you could buy whatever you wanted it’s not as simple as it sounds it’s not as simple as the christmas wish list that uh an eight-year-old would make it sound if I could only get more stuff I’d be happy it’s treadmill it’s the hedonistic treadmill it’s this thing that we get on and we have to keep moving to stay where we are we can’t just stop we have to keep going that’s what luke brett moore found and I would suggest that’s what the the bible would suggest as well this is from a book called ecclesiastes chapter 1 the word of the teacher son of david king in jerusalem of jerusalem meaningless meaningless says the teacher utterly meaningless

everything is meaningless when he looked at what was available in life he was like it’s it’s just nothing it’s it’s just empty the book is centered around these two fascinating terms on one hand there’s this character this quoaleth this teacher or preacher this thinker and he’s constantly got this theme that he keeps talking about this this hebrew word habel habel is fascinating because it it has this sense of meaningless and nothing but an actual better definition would be something like smoke so this is eugene peterson’s message version these are the words of the questa david’s son and king in jerusalem smoke nothing but smoke that’s what the questor says there’s nothing to anything it’s all smoke it’s that picture have you ever maybe walked around a lakeside or or seen what it is to see vapor appearing over the fields

early in the morning you see this thing and it’s beautiful it just sits over the landscape and then as the sun gets brighter as the sun like its beams hit it just it’s gone it’s there in a moment and then it’s gone this is what this word vapour sort of connects with it’s this thing that you can’t ever really grasp you think you’ve got it and you open your hand and it’s gone this is herbelle I think there’s lots of different translations that we could land on but I would say that one as well as smoke and well as vapour it’s treadmill it’s the thing that you can never sort of stop moving to keep going you can only turn the treadmill off if you leave it on you have to keep going and keep going just to stay where you are and I think you and I know that I think we know that spending more stuff ultimately doesn’t make us happier we can think that we want something

but it never lasts we snap back to zero so to neutral so quickly and so if that’s true if all of these people have spotted this if these secular what you might call prophets like zach de la rucker have said if if people within the bible have said it if Jesus has said it and I think our hearts say it as well I have this sort of question second question why do we do it if spending more doesn’t satisfy why do we keep doing it why do we keep going back to accumulating more and more stuff because we do every year the whole world combined spends about a trillion dollars on christmas american credit card debt is now at about a trillion dollars just in this nation and we do that while we know that one billion people don’t have enough food to eat 700 million people don’t have access to clean water these are necessities these are things that we know

and still we treadmill treadmill treadmill and we buy more and we acquire more and we keep going and we know it doesn’t work and I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know and my question is then why why do we keep doing it and I have some answers that may be helpful maybe one answer is comparison we love to see where we stand compared to other people and we have this sort of standard that we feel like we have to keep up with a few years ago laura and I were in la we used to go to a conference every year and because I rented cars so much for work they would always give me great upgrades I would always have loads of points to spend and and so I would go and they would usually give me something nice and I remember one year I was there and they gave me this beautiful bmw 4 series convertible and I was like a

little kid in school I was so excited about this car until something happened I pulled it out of the airport and we headed to the place that we were staying and we pulled up at a stoplight next to a country club and while we were there this kid pulled up in a bright red ferrari if he was 16 he looked like a year older than younger than he was I mean he looked like 15 16 years old and he’s driving around in this stunning car pulling into his country club and in a moment all of my joy smoke vapor gone treadmill it was this moment of like I want a ferrari to drive around in as well why don’t I get a ferrari could they not have upgraded me to a ferrari that upgrade does not exist by the way that’s not like just the sales clerk being mean to you there is no upgrade that gets you a ferrari I’ve been told it’s comparison and it’s based around this idea that we

have to keep moving the treadmill goes from one to two to three and there’s a better car that you need it’s built on this lie but well it will make me feel better than others it allows me to feel for a second superior I’m further ahead in the journey I’m winning I’m keeping up with the joneses and maybe even overtaking them as well it’s comparison but maybe it’s also it’s cover-up as well a couple of years ago I was flying back to england and I was taking the kids back for christmas and we were set in the first row of coach class and we got chatting as I tend to do with the guy in front of us he was the last row of first class and he gave us his free drinks coping coupons and stuff he was an absolute delight lovely guy and he started showing me pictures of his christmas at home and christmas on his like their christmas day there were presents on

every step coming down in this sweeping staircase that made its way down to the living room and all over the living room over every couch there was presents presents presents presents presents more than you could count like the stars in the sky and he showed me some videos of his kids running down and beginning to open the presents and there seemed to be like joy there and everything and then we got talking more and he began to tell me what christmas would look like for him this year and he said well I’ll get home on the 24th and I’ll be home till the 26th and then I have to travel again and then I’ll be back on new year’s eve and we’ll do a celebration but then I have to leave on the second and I’ll be gone again to and he turns out he travels about 250 260 days a year he’s head of sales for some big organization and he makes a

ton of money doing it but there was this moment this like revelation where I’m like ah this is a cover-up right you’re buying these presents because you think it covers for the fact that you’re never you’re never there and if that’s your life that’s not a criticism I’m sure you experience that tension as well sometimes it’s easier to buy an expensive presence or just tons of them to cover up for the fact it didn’t actually take you time or energy I actually can go and buy laura a great present really easily without really thinking about it I just go and buy something with diamonds in and when it turns up she’s delighted she’s excited but it’s really not that difficult I’m covering up for the fact that I didn’t spend time thinking it through that I didn’t really plan it that there was no real energy that went into it it’s a cover-up for this guy on the plane it was it was a

cover-up it’s based on this lie that it makes me feel better about my problems everything isn’t as I’d like it to be so I spend to make up for that fact maybe it’s cravings they say that spending is as addictive as cocaine as an endorphin that’s released that in the moment that you do it you’re like I feel so good about myself bizarrely as well the same with emails that ding that you get when an email comes in has an addictive quality to it it releases an endorphin somebody wants you somebody values you spending does this thing where it’s like for a second we’re like ah I feel great but the problem is we have this huge capacity to snap back to neutral so after doing it we’re like nope didn’t work I need to do it again and the treadmill jumps from three to four to four to five and we have to keep moving to keep going it makes me feel better for a

while is the lie and then finally another one and this maybe is the most the most dangerous of them all it’s caring I remember once as I was graduate about to graduate high school my friends and I we had to wear uniforms it was an english high school and so the last year instead of buying the traditional cheap uniform we we went uh out shopping and I said to my mum I need like a wall suit like something nice because everyone’s doing it and so we went out together and bought a suit and she spent more than she could really afford I think and then I went to school the first day in this new suit and and my friend said oh that’s not real it’s fake it’s not that good it’s terrible and my joy dissipates dissipated vapor smoke so I went home and told my mom well yeah they all said it wasn’t that good so I need to get something better and her joy

dissipated smoke we were both buying into the lie that that well actually this will make someone else happy it makes somebody else feel good and it’s treadmill it’s this thing that we have to keep going just to stay still I think the truth with all of those things that we need to remind ourselves of is this felt needs are not always real needs we think we’re tapping into something real and there’s just a possibility that we may not be now that’s just like the surface level that’s just like you know okay that’s that’s not that bad a scenario the the potential worst case scenario is this that there’s something sort of insidious going on under the surface that we may not even be aware of this is what Jesus said no one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other you

cannot serve God and money Jesus was very comfortable in his demand on your soul he was like I want it all now if you’re in the room and you’re not following Jesus right now if you’re watching online you’re not following Jesus right now the great thing for you I guess is that you get to you get to opt out on this one like you can spend your money however you like now I would suggest all of the other things are still true you might find that it doesn’t bring you the satisfaction you think but but Jesus actually doesn’t have the same demand on you that he has on the rest of us that are choosing to follow him he demands that he gets to say in how we spend that money we can’t separate that thing that that finance thing from everything else and say that’s mine that the word money in greek is this word mamma and it was actually a a

demonic God from history it was this thing that that was worshipped in different ways and Jesus is saying no you can’t you can’t choose me and that you can’t choose me and the money system he wants all of us every single part he wants to have a say in and that’s maybe what’s going on under the surface when we have this addiction to spending there’s maybe something that’s pulling us away something that’s getting us to believe a different narrative is true I love this passage it carries on from what we read in luke chapter one last year last last year last week we were talking about mary’s song that she sings as she celebrates that Jesus is coming and it starts to hint that something is changing about the way that society functions same as the the prophet’s language something is about to change he has performed mighty deeds with

his arm he has scattered those who are proud in their innermost thoughts he has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble he has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty there’s this idea that society was based around you could tell very easily who was blessed and who wasn’t the rich were blessed the poor were not and this Jesus entry into the world is going to bring that whole thing into question and as he begins to teach he says the same thing blessed are the poor he starts to make these outlandish statements and he’s constantly interested in the disbursement of wealth and and he doesn’t mind you having it but he does want you to think and embrace the tension of how you use it the advent conspiracy is based on this idea we’re choosing to engage with the real christmas

story in opposition to the modern christmas story we choose moments in which we can spend less in order to do something more significant we talk about this tension with spending stuff so we can think about well what might we do with our money what might the thing God is calling us to do be and when I say is there a better way is question three I hope by now the point is well there’s got to be one because it’s not this one like I hope there’s that that sort of idea lurking in the background and I think there is in that same book ecclesiastes just a couple of chapters later in chapter four it says this fools fold their hands and ruin themselves better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind this writer this quoaleth wrestles with the idea of contentment it creates this picture of what it is to hold

something just one handful just enough with a hand open versus trying to grasp because as we looked at vapor you cannot grasp simply about what you can hold paul in the new testament will start to say some of the same thing he’ll start to talk about this idea of contentment I am not saying this because I am in need for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances I know what it is to be a need and I know what it is to have plenty I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well-fed or hungry whether living in plenty or in want I can do all things all this through him who gives me strength this is philippians chapter four I have learned to be content I have learned it wasn’t something that came natural he made a decision to learn it and then look at that line at the bottom I can do

this through him who gives me strength this isn’t something he’s done as in and of himself his relationship with Jesus has taught him to be content you and I were invited into that whether you’re following Jesus or not right now you’re invited into that you get to practice this contentment a person who lacks contentment in their life will often engage in when and then thinking when I get dot dot dot dot then I’ll be happy that moment will be the moment to celebrate that will be the moment where I’m like ah finally I can stop running but you never can because the treadmill moves from seven to eight from eight to nine it just keeps going the the invitation of Jesus is this you can step off the treadmill you don’t have to keep running you can step off so how can we spend less this advent and this lands us a little bit in that tension

because in all that I’ve said there is this still tension lurking we all live in an economy that is based on what is spent and productivity you have jobs you have careers that rely on people spending money that’s a real thing the subject isn’t spend nothing to a certain degree I’m not saying we should just blow the whole thing up I’m saying that you should think and I should think seriously about the what and the how much we spend how can we do this how can we enter into this this advent and I have a few ideas for you spend less money give more time choose to find ways to be with people that you love now difficult again in a pandemic but there are people in your life that you can actually choose now I’m going to choose the gift of time over the gift of money how about this one buy less stuff give more experiences one of the

things I figured out with my kids is they remember for a long time the things that we did together even after they’ve forgotten the gifts that I bought them we did this little challenge the other day she asked my daughter elena asked me what did what did you get for christmas when you were a kid and I was able to pick out a few things but she asked me what I got last year I was like no clue and she didn’t either in actual fact but she remembers everything that as a family we enter into together give to needs and not to there’s that tendency that temptation to just say ah whatever you want I’m gonna give it because it will make you happy and yet there’s something about needs that actually the memory is more lasting I think we get to choose to think about what people need with my kids again we we buy them one present that

they want but the rest is based around what do you need and then something to read as well because you always need a book uh and then this one I love in 2020 in this weird year we’ve lived in choose david and not goliath we’ve embraced a 2020 where a shutdown or lockdown of pandemic has made the rich richer organizations like amazon and like target and like walmart have thrived and their wealth has gone up and up and it generally gravitates towards one person this year in your spending you could make a huge difference in the life of a local realtor really a local um retailer you could actually make a difference there now bizarrely you may have to spend more per gift to do that you may have to buy less gifts but spend more for each individual gift but isn’t that worth it when you think that we just rely so much on convenience

you might have to accept that the shipping there will take four or five days instead of amazon’s instant provision but we have people in our community we have people in the area around us that they need that local business that’s what marketplace was all about it was about providing little retailers this option or ability to sell their products maybe this year the challenge is when you think about spending go and choose david and not goliath go to the small real retailer and make a difference there these are the passages for this week if you want to go back and look at them at home I’m going to flick them up flick them up later but we’re going to move towards communion and that brings us back to what paul said I can do all this through him who gives me strength the idea everything we’re talking about is based on the fact that we’re tapping into

our Jesus relationship in order to do this for me that’s where it begins you can try and do all of these things by yourself but in actual fact it’s following Jesus that empowers us or empowered paul to live this life of contentment and as we come to this communion thing if you’re at home you can grab your communion elements if you are here hopefully you’ve got them and we’re going to take it together in a second we’d like to land on this statement of Jesus I am the bread of life whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty the idea of Jesus death was that it provided a feast that we were all invited to he said I am enough one of the things I’m always staggered at when I read the the gospels the Jesus narratives I’m always staggered at how little difference his earliest followers believe Jesus made

at key moments you see him with a crowd of five thousand in front of him and there’s this moment where all they can think about is well where do we go for food how much will that cost what happens if you split five loaves and two fishes five thousand ways how much does everybody get and Jesus is stood right there with them and they don’t believe he makes a difference and yet in every story he does make a difference he changes everything that’s what this passage invites us into as we approach this advent season we’re invited into realizing that Jesus makes a difference if you’re not following him you can make that decision for yourself before we take communion together it’s a simple process of saying Jesus I actually have been running life my own way and that’s got me into a mess just like you predicted it would and I

would like to turn that life over to you and it’s recognizing that his death and resurrection they were for you and me that was for you and me that is a game changer and if you want to talk more about it you can come grab me after the service you can drop us an email here at south fellowship but we want to take this moment to celebrate that we’re partaking in a feast together and it was provided by Jesus so think about some of the words that aaron and the team are going to lead us through as we sing we’re going to think about that idea together for a few moments

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Spend Well | Advent Conspiracy (Week 2)2022-01-27T11:10:24-07:00

Worship Fully | Advent Conspiracy (Week 1)

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I love it good morning friends how many of you had a delightfully weird thanksgiving anyone good I hope so um we had some family in from out of town just a couple of uh family members which was delightful and we uh decided you know with all the whatever going on we would take them up into the mountains because it’s safer up there uh we’re not realizing of course or not thinking through the fact that there was less oxygen up there than they were used to so bizarrely ironically whatever they were more at risk up in the mountains than they were anywhere else but we had a great time and now we get to do this turning of the corner where we move from advent uh towards our from thanksgiving and fall towards the advent season we get to begin to think about this this Jesus story so just for fun for a second uh take a moment to

think about what is the worst christmas song you have ever heard and then later I would like you all to come and give me all the reasons that the correct answer to that question is little drummer boy which is profoundly just a terrible song in my humble opinion uh come let me know why that’s the correct answer here are the passages for those of you that like to know where we’re going on this delightful journey of sermoning that we do together you can take a picture you can come back to them later I will flash them up at the end but we’re going to start this series advent conspiracy by talking a little bit for a second about what actually is advent anyway advent is part of the church’s liturgical calendar if you don’t know what that means that’s fine it’s this calendar that recycles each year it’s this period where we begin as I say to

think about the Jesus story but but actually something a little more than that advent is a season of waiting it’s a season of waiting we remember the fact that that actually years and years ago these people had waited for messiah for this this figure to appear who would do incredible things Jesus wasn’t what they expected they had waited for a long time and now we as his followers and if you’re not following Jesus right now you’re kind of excused from this you get to step out a second that’s fine uh we we are waiting as well we believe that Jesus came once and that will come again we’re waiting for this this Jesus to reappear so in some ways this this story this advent thing it’s not for the faint of heart because it’s a season where we take seriously the way that the world actually is Jesus came and did this incredible thing he died and rose again

that’s the already done part but there’s also this not yet part there’s this thing that we’re waiting for we’re waiting for the world to look as God would have the world look and if we’re honest it doesn’t look like that right now when the world doesn’t look like that what we’re tempted to do is to fill the voids to fill the darkness with as much stuff as possible to kind of compensate for the fact that the world isn’t what it should be but real advent takes seriously this like embracing no it’s not what it should be and we long for the day it is that’s why fleming rutledge the author says advent is not for the faint of heart advent is a season for bravery it’s a season to determine to say ah I can’t wait the image I would give you is this it’s kind of like a house that hasn’t been lived in yet I know this is colorado so there are no houses that haven’t

been lived in although someone did find me one on the internet but for the most part houses here sell like crazy but in other places the world that is not always the case and this house was built in michigan when we first moved into our house in 2015 and still to this day it has not sold now it might be because they made this ghastly carpet choice in the upper floors uh we had that carpet in my house in the 80s it wasn’t great then and it’s not great now but it’s also just a really expensive house in an area that people may not buy a really expensive house but this house is is waiting it’s already not yet it’s made but there’s no one living in it that’s what advent season is like it’s this season of waiting we’re like ah the thing is coming Jesus came once and he will come again so a couple of passages to start us off this is isaiah chapter nine for uh to us

a child is born to us the son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counsel almighty God everlasting father prince of peace of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end and this from luke chapter 1 and mary said my soul glorifies the lord my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant from now on all generations will call me blessed for the mighty one has done great things for me holy is his name we’re going to come back to the first of those passages later but they are our readings for today we’re walking through the series that were called that is called advent conspiracy this isn’t something that’s original to south this is something that churches all over the country are doing and it’s this based around this idea advent conspiracy is

a movement built around the idea that christmas can still change the world christmas when done right can still change the world as compared to christmas that’s done the way that we usually see it so we’re gonna walk through these sort of four challenges we’re gonna begin with this idea of worship fully but then we’re going to talk about spend less give more and love all so if you’re planning on going and spending a chunk of money do it before week two because you might feel profoundly guilty after week two um but there’s this idea that that sort of grounds the whole thing the advent is the season where we’re invited into worship in a different way the word worship comes from an old english word uh worth ship it’s about the value that you place on something this is a passage from psalm 63 you God are my God earnestly I seek you

my thirst for you my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water there the pastor charles spurgeon said he felt like every follower of Jesus should read this passage every morning when they woke up because doesn’t it just capture that sense of longing of value of desire it’s like ah you God oh my God earnestly I seek you he compares it to that feeling that we’ve all had of being thirsty every single one of you at some point I’m sure has had that summer day feeling of like ah I’ve either worked out or I’ve run hard or I’ve done something and right now I am desperately thirsty I long for some water and I would chase after it if I saw it if someone were to drag a bottle of water behind a car I’d be there running after it trying to grab hold of it I I am that desperately thirsty and this this is what this rider compares

his desire for God to he has this incredible value on and who God is this incredible desire to be in his presence and that’s a struggle for me because I wonder how often I feel like that and my question for you would be how often do you feel like that how often does your desire for God is it typified by the longing for water I remember those days playing soccer when I was eight nine years old where I would play for hour after hour and at the end of it I’m like I’m gasping and this is the picture that we’re given I would say this is my starting thesis you always pursue what has value to you you always pursue what has value to you if there’s something that you value you usually end up chasing after it you usually end up working towards it as a picture of value I used to work on a golf course and the language that we would use back in england we would talk

about council workers people that worked for municipal organizations usually as a huge generalization these guys left school fairly early so they’d maybe start working for these organizations at 16. uh quite often they came from lower income families it’s not a criticism just an observation and so you’d always meet these interesting characters and there was this one guy uh he was a mean guy he would tease a small child he would bully a kitten like picture a labrador retriever this guy would a little little puppy this guy would go after he just was not nice at all he loved making fun of people and yet he had this huge value on princess diana of wales like so many of you you may be into the crown right now you know how wonderful princess diana was and he had met her at an event he’d got to build this bill help build this building and

she’d been there as part of the opening and he got to meet her and this guy who was mean who was nasty who would bully innocent creatures when he talked about princess diana of wales would suddenly go all misty-eyed little tears would appear there like begin to trickle down his face and he would look and he would say the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life there was something about who she was that had captivated him in this incredible way this is this picture of value that we’re talking about he had this incredible value on her and when you value something usually what happens is you begin to pursue it you begin to to want to know more about it you begin to chase after it this is a picture of the mountain at danny mcgaskill on top of the inaccessible peak on the isle of skye it’s this mountain that is hard to

climb let alone hard to bike up and yet he had lived in this region and he said I just always have longed to sit on a mountain bike on the top of the isle of skye just something about him just drew his attention and so I have this little video of the making of this clip and I want you to just tap into a few of the words that are used for a few of the bits of language that are used here I think rightly so everyone else in the team wasn’t too impressed when I unclip from the rope as I say I felt totally comfortable being there show it’s terrifying and incredible at the same time look at where we are look at the weather this is ah can’t believe it this is insane it’s good real good definitely can’t believe I’m off on top of this is them it’s like I have definitely started dreaming about for a long time so look at this place so few bits of language that we heard there

he talked one of his filmographers one of the guys filming him talked about this idea it’s terrifying and wonderful at the same time at one point he can’t actually express what he means he just says ah it’s good he said I have been dreaming about this for years this guy has been willing to sacrifice for this mountaintop moment he stood there in this moment with his bicycle underneath him and he’s like ah this is what I’ve been looking for it’s interesting just as an observation that throughout history experiences of God encounters with him have often been shaped around mountain tops in like terms of their geography but there’s something about his desire here something about his longing that I think we get to tap into when you value something you are willing to go to incredible lengths to get hold of it you always pursue what

has value to you so think about some of the things that we might chase as a society today maybe one of them is wealth we want to accumulate more money we want to do the ebenezers as a scrooge thing we want to have lots of wealth and we want to think about our next pay rise we want to watch our stocks really closely we want to make sure that we have lots and lots of of cash maybe another one is is we chase after the fame thing uh we want to be known we want to be valued by the world we want to have that sort of feeling of not standing on a physical mountain top but been standing on the mountain top of the world’s achievement we want people to say you are you are incredible in terms of what you have done and then maybe another one which maybe I sympathize with a little more maybe we chase after

happiness but maybe we often do that through the first two we think that wealth and fame will make us happy even though we have all these cautionary tales that suggest the opposite we see so many people that are both rich and famous and and yet are deeply unhappy and the lesson may be there is that they don’t do what we think that it’s going to do but but I think there’s something that we chase after that is more dangerous than any of these because we don’t even realize that we do it we just chase after more stuff I’m not talking about like actual wealth I’m talking about just acquiring more possessions don’t we see that at christmas we’ll talk about spend less in detail next week but the average spending worldwide on christmas is about a trillion dollars a trillion dollars based around presents that will be forgotten in a year

acquiring more stuff the first year that laura and I were married first two three years we lived in this house in england if it looks like it might fall down it’s because there was a danger a serious danger that it would fall down we used to get people walk up the pathway and say wow I didn’t realize that anybody lived here I thought it was abandoned the the postman that had delivered mail to us for over a year finally met one of us and said I thought I was delivering mail to an empty house are you allowed to live in this place there was something about the the sort of the house that looked like it was broken and needed tearing down and we lived that year on around fifteen thousand dollars we had almost no money a date night for us looked like this you know those like you you sign up at a store with your phone number and you get the points

that acquire at the end of like however many months we would find that we had enough money to instead of just stand normal buying our normal groceries we would buy some duck fillets and a bottle of wine and that was what date night looked like unless someone came to us and said we’re going to give you some money to go on a date we just didn’t have that disposable income and yet we would have these friends that would come over to hang out and they would say things like I wish we were as happy as you guys they would say things like uh I just don’t want to leave this house there’s this incredible sense of peace and happiness and joy here these are things that people would say to us repeatedly now we went on to have more money we went on to live in nicer homes but sometimes what a question is this did that enable

us to do what so many of us if we’re honest do we just started acquiring more stuff and the advent conspiracy idea would suggest that when we do that we’re trying to fill some other voids that that really we should be taking a moment to look at and sort of embracing and challenging ourselves on so so if when we start with worship fully if the idea is that we maybe need to change our value system that value in God and who he is more will enable us to chase after him more regularly how do we do that how do we change a value system that essentially is built on either wealth or stuff or happiness or fame or any of those things how do we go through this process of saying God I want to value you more this season I want to put you as the center of everything because I would say an experience of God it actually only comes after a

determined pursuit there’s some great contemplative writers that would suggest this experiencing God usually happens after one of two things sometimes it’s suffering so we have people in our community you’ve suffered greatly you’ve been through some stuff and you might look back retrospectively after some years and say ah I have experienced God in and through that that doesn’t minimize the suffering it doesn’t take it away I’m not saying it’s like this instantaneous fix but occasionally you run into people that seem to just have this greater experience of God than than you or I might have and then you hear some of their backstory and they you hear people say things like oh yeah they they had everything and then they they lost everything or this thing happened in their life and it just changed them in this incredible way

suffering can do that to you but the other way is is this decision to to contemplate to actually take time to value God and intentionally pursue him and if I’m honest in so much of my life that other stuff that we talked about that becomes the center and and this decision to worship fully to pursue God is hard because there’s other stuff that gets in the way of that I think maybe our first step in order to take that pursuit seriously to do that psalm 63 thing is I would suggest we need to re-see the story that we’re invited to live in because you and I live in this huge story we live in this Jesus story that is magnificent that is changing the whole world and and sometimes we get we normalize that too much we’re like oh well I’m so used to this story I’ve been hearing it since I was a little kid re-seeing just how grand it is can sometimes be the thing that that leads

us into worshiping fully so what we’re going to do for the next however many minutes is we’re going to take two narratives and compare them side by side so the narratives might seem unadvent-like or at least the first one is an advent-like we’re going to talk about abraham and his son isaac and this moment where God appears to abraham and says something that in our 21st century eyes it’s just ridiculous he asks him to to give to sacrifice his son God said take your son your only son whom you love isaac and go to the region of moriah sacrificing there is a burnt offering and a mountain I will show you early the next morning abraham got up and loaded his donkey he took with him two of his servants and his son isaac when he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering he set out for the place God had told him about so here’s

what’s unusual about this story it’s completely not unusual it’s completely usual for this time this age this culture this kind of sacrifice was a regular thing what’s interesting about this story is actually abraham’s involvement in it so what has happened up until this point is that God this God that we worship has appeared to abraham and said come on a journey with me I’m going to move you and all your family I’m going to shift you from like this one place that you’ve been living with all your family for generations and I’m going to move you to another area and instead of worshiping your old gods you’re going to worship me instead does this implication in the story that this guard is different that he’s calling abraham to something different he starts to say things like your family will shape the entire world you’ll be set apart and and set apart

simply means to be different and and you’ll do something incredible as a family and then this happens and I wonder what abraham’s reaction to this is I think it’s probably something like wait you’re just like all the other gods you’re just like them this is the this is the kind of stuff they’ve been asking us to do for for as long as we can remember we’ve had these stories that suggest that gods are mad and we have to appease them we have to keep them happy and you said you were different and you called me on this journey and I left worshiping these other gods and I came to follow you and now in this moment you’re just like all the others I think for abraham there’s probably this profound sense of of disappointment I thought I was on a journey and I’m not I’m just it’s just the same as everybody else there was this general narrative

amongst all religions of this time we are the gods who require your sons this special gift like having sons in that culture was was considered better than having daughters it was a desirable thing and and the gods would ask their followers to give them up as a sacrifice and that was what happened regularly and now this God who’s supposed to be different is doing the same thing and then the story twists on the third day abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance he said to his servant stay here with the donkey well I and the boy go over there we will worship and then we will come back to you abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son isaac and he himself carried the knife the fire and the knife there’s this moment where abraham is going to do the unthinkable he’s going to attach back into these old

stories and then in the midst of his moment of obedience an angel appears and says uh sorry let’s read this path first as the two of them went up together isaac spoke and said to his father abraham father yes my son abraham replied the fire and the wood are here isaac said but where is the lamb for the burnt offering abraham answered God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son and the two of them went untogether abraham probably has some questions isaac probably has some more questions about what’s going on here and this is the angel’s word to him do not lay a hand on the boy do not do anything to him now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son your only son abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns he went over and took the

ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son so abraham called that place the lord will provide and to this day it is said on the mountain of the lord it will be provided the switch in the story is this moment where abraham in the moment of obedience is told to do something completely counter-intuitive to every other religion of its day suddenly this isn’t a God who requires your sins this is the God who does not ask for them who does not require them who looks for this moment of obedience but then says no that isn’t who I am this is like an ancient sermon this is like a sermon against all the other religions of its day no this isn’t who you’re called to be and this isn’t what I want when we talk about worship fully when we talk about entering into this giant story that we’re called to be a part of I would say it begins with the

worship of a God who provides for our needs in that moment where abraham needs something it’s provided this sacrifice miraculously turns up in this moment and I just wonder how that story intersects like I wonder how this ram or lam story intersects with abraham’s story at some point this lamb or ram is minding its own business and somehow through whatever means winds up stood in a thicket about to become a sacrifice like that story intersects two but God provides and the story ends with that moment of on the mountain of the lord God provides and then we switch to the Jesus story for to us a child is born to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor mighty God everlasting father prince of peace of the greatness of his government and peace there will be

no end for unto us a child is born to us a son is given this Jesus story taps into this idea of gift that Jesus is a gift this is God not requiring our sons but I am the God who gives my own son this is the switch in the story this is this dramatic revelation at least for the people of its day the moment that the old gods they don’t matter anymore their their demands they don’t apply to this God not only does he not demand your sons he chooses to give his own it’s fascinating that the the mountain mariah that abraham and isaac walk up to that’s the same mountain that Jesus will die on geographically they’re the same place thousands of years later this story that’s hinted at this story becomes reality the God who does not require your sons becomes the God who will give his own son and we get these pictures that I love at advent the little glimpses of

Jesus life as a child and you see like the foreshadowing as he sits on the floor of the carpenter’s workshop and he plays with nails and we get to think through what those nails will ultimately come to mean in his story one day it’s a story of sacrifice but the idea of a God who gives his own sons doesn’t even he doesn’t even get to the depths of it because while Jesus is a gift the idea of the in christian thought of trinity is that Jesus is himself God living our story so it’s not just a gift of a son it’s I am the God who gives of my own self God is the one who is constantly giving constantly reaching out to us he is always the one making the first move towards us even when we think we made the move first you and your story may have a feeling that at some point you approached this God but there’s this idea that you only did that because he

approached you first you may never have realized it but he was the one that was drawing you that’s how the story seems to work there’s this beautiful sense of sacrifice that God makes in the story no longer requiring sacrifice of us as was the old way he now makes that sacrifice first this is a picture of will told pilicky he is the only guy to voluntarily go to auschwitz the death camp in germany during the second world war up until a certain point though the allies had thought that the the the owl switch was mainly just a prison camp nothing out of the way but there were these rumors of troubling things that were starting to come out of it and so will told paliki said I’m going to go and allow myself to be captured allow myself to be taken to auschwitz and I’ll begin to feed information back to you and let you know what’s going on there

so he did this and started to raise up a resistance there finally managed to escape and and tell the world exactly what was going on and then while they were figuring out what to do with it he said well no what I’ll do is I’ll go back and I’ll help lead the rebellion there not only did he go to auschwitz once he went twice as it turned out his sacrifice was was so great that once the government started to change after the second world war his own government turned against him and he was executed in his turn but his story his life is one of this constant sacrifice for the betterment of humanity the greater good he had this just innate heart to him when they looked at his life in the 90s someone did a review of his life and said this when God made humans will told pilicky was what he had in mind there was something about his ability to give that was just

captivating and I think those stories resonate with us because they touch on the Jesus story which is that this God isn’t interested in our sacrifice but he’s constantly making them himself this is the vastness of the story that you and I are invited into worship of the God who provides for our needs with his own life that’s the bigness the largeness the hugeness of it and then one more thing it’s the worship of the God who provides for our needs with his own life and also who restores all things because this God is interested in you and he is interested in me passionately deeply individually and yet he’s also interested in this world and what this world is becoming as well because we started this advent sort of season by looking at this idea that advent is waiting it’s recognizing that the world is not what it should be it’s already Jesus has

done the thing he died and rose again but it’s also not yet we’re also waiting for all the ways for this this kingdom to shape this world in ways that are good and we long for it it’s a slow kingdom coming at times but we long for it as his followers like ah this world will be different one day this is what this God does this is the big part of the story sometimes as followers of Jesus this is where we land we believe the story starts with four mankind is broken and redemption of us as individuals but that’s not the full extent of the story the story starts in genesis 1 with the idea that God made us to be good he made this world to be good and it ends in this book revelation with the idea that one day it will be made to be good again this is the story that you live in this is the story that you’re invited into when we re-see the story we’re

invited to worship in new ways we’re invited to worship fully every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the father of heavenly lights who does not change like sifting shadows he’s interested in our good and that Jesus story is the beginning of this world becoming good in new ways you always pursue what has value to you hopefully when you see the story in new and fresh ways there’s a new value on it this story is big and you wherever you are whatever you have done however broken you feel you this advent season are invited in I’m going to leave those passages back up for anyone who wants to take a picture and read them at home I’m going to invite the worship team to come back on stage and we’re going to close with a song but we’re going to take a moment to pray God may we learn to value you in new ways

may we take us our prayer those words from psalm 63 you God are my God may we thirst after you like children worn out from a game desperate for water may we see your story this big thing that you’ve been shaping this arc of history that you’ve been working on it doesn’t always look like we think it should look right now but there’s this moment of like ah that’s what it’s becoming God this advent may we choose not to chase after things like wealth after things like more stuff after things like fame even just after our own happiness may we choose to enter into your story become brave people who choose to enter into waiting who see the world as it really is but long for you to transform it I pray for each person here who isn’t part of your journey isn’t part of your story right now they would have the bravery to step into it maybe just

in a moment of reflection of admitting that they’ve gone their own way that they’ve tried to create their own story but you invite us into yours the story of a God who gives of his own self thank you Jesus that you’re present with us today continue to work in our hearts as we sing amen

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Worship Fully | Advent Conspiracy (Week 1)2022-01-27T11:04:49-07:00
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