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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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