(this post is taken from an Advent Devotional I collaborated with some friends to write. Download it for free here)
My son used to love the movie “UP.” I think I have watched Up more than 30 times. Here’s the thing about Up… it’s a great movie! The first time I saw it I was captivated by the story. I loved the grandpa in the story; maybe its because his cynicism and humor reminds me of my grandpa (and his looks to a certain extent). The way that he interacted with Russell, and the way that he eventually came around at the end. You could see it coming from a mile away, but I liked it nonetheless. And, can we all just take a moment and agree that tying enough balloons to your house to cause it to lift off the ground would be pretty epic?
But something happened to me around the fifth time I saw the movie. I knew what was going to happen, I was no longer surprised at any of the scary parts in the movie (those dogs were vicious!), and jokes lost a bit of their humor. Because I knew what was going to happen, so much of the life as drained out of the movie. A movie that used to bring great joy and fun to watch, had become dull; it had become very normal.
I think that’s how the Christmas story has been for many of us.
We have heard the story so many times that we no longer hear it.
The shock value has been lost, the amazement has been dulled down significantly, and story has become stale. The true Christmas story has turned into stale cookies and sour milk. How sad! But, before we just resolve ourselves to being lost in Christmas doldrums, let’s retell ourselves the story one last time. And, can I encourage you to not just read it, but to focus on really hearing it.
God creates… everything (that a pretty big God… and a pretty impressive feat).
God creates us for relationship with him (that’s a pretty amazing invitation).
We screw everything up (that’s what the Bible calls sin, but let’s not lose the story in the churchy language).
God comes for us (this is there the boring old Christmas story fits into the big picture).
God rescues us (that same God that created everything) by becoming a human to make a way for us to be back in relationship with him.
Jesus gives his life as a bridge (faith lets us walk across that bridge… back to the God that created us for himself) Now, instead of being eternally separated from that life-giving God, we get to eternally enjoy him (that’s significant)
So, are we telling ourselves THAT story has become mundane? That story has become boring? I can see how UP starts to lose a little bit of it’s luster, but the Christmas story never should. The fact that God clothed himself in humanity to rescue us should never become stale. I don’t know about you, but I need to constantly remind myself of that. The Christmas story is like so many other aspects of following Jesus; we need to remind ourselves of how breath-taking they really are. Daily we need to remind ourselves of the goodness of the gospel! Daily we need to remember we walk in grace. daily we need to remind ourselves to really HEAR the truths we believe.