Christmas at the Movies

So on Sunday we are opening up a new series for Advent – Christmas at the Movies Round 2! We did this last year and people really liked it so we are going for it again. I’m going to be trying to tie in all sorts of movies to help reveal the truth about Christmas.

Sometimes Christmas becomes so familiar that we forget the key things about it. So join with us as we look at some classic movies to learn some new things about joy, about Elf, about gathering together, and learning to be grateful. Hope you can join us!

Christmas Movies

The Grinch as a Parable

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-originalThis Sunday we are showing a parable at church. Of course it’s the classic movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, the classic version.

This movie is actually a great parable of what happens when we let bitterness take root in our hearts. It’s actually a really good glimpse into what happens when we stop trying to make peace and live in harmony, and let our self-interest guide us.

So we are going to look at this movie and see how we can not only deal with the “Grinches” in our lives, but how we can ensure we don’t become a Grinch.

Because the slide to becoming a Grinch is often a subtle and slow slide. But it’s one that can be prevented, it can be seen, and it can even be turned around.

So that’s where we are going – but here’s some homework. Watch the Grinch a) because it’s a good parable b) because it’s an awesome movie. I mean who can’t love it when it has lines like, “you’re as prickly as a cactus, and as slippery as an eel” 🙂

“We’re A Couple of Misfits”

On Sunday we talked about the feeling of being a misfit. We watched a clip from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer where Hermey and Rudloph sing, “We’re a couple of misfits, we’re just a couple of misfits, what’s the matter with misfits, that’s where we fit in”.

And then they sing something so true, “We may be different from the rest. Who decides the test, of what is really best?”

Isn’t that true?

Haven’t you ever thought that?

Why do they get to decide what’s best? Why do they get to decide the test of fitting in or not. And they might be your father, mother, sister-in-law, neighbour, whatever.

The point is that many of us don’t’ feel like we fit in around Christmas. Christmas can actually be a time where we are reminded of the fact that we don’t fit in. But this is the exact opposite of what the Christmas story teaches us.

The Christmas story teaches us that Christmas is about welcoming the misfits.

If you think about it at the birth of Jesus we have the Magi, the Shepherds, and Mary and Joseph. All misfits.

The Magi are foreigners, people of different race, religion, and politics. People who are rich and in a different class than Mary and Joseph. Yet they are welcomed in.

The shepherds are outcasts too. They are misfits for sure. Shepherds were people who weren’t marriage material, who were often people of “dubious character”, who were literally on the outside of society. They were misfits.

And Mary and Joseph were too. They clearly didn’t fit in with their family, because no one would welcome them in while she was pregnant. Instead, they were forced to a full inn. People I’m sure thought that Mary had some “character flaws” of her own, that she was pregnant and not yet married. So she and Joseph too are misfits.

Yet what do we see? Jesus’ birth bringing all these misfits together.

One the first things Jesus does when he enters the world is to welcome people who don’t feel like they belong. Is to draw people together who are often left out.

So Christmas, if it’s about anything, is about welcoming. It’s about hospitality. It’s about making room for the misfits in our lives.

So we close with a challenge. That if you feel like a misfit to know that you are welcomed to celebrate with our church, and with Jesus for his birth. Because Christmas is about welcome.

And if Christmas is about welcoming, we should practice welcoming. We need to reach out to the misfits in our lives, and invite them in. It might not be easy, but it really is necessary to live out the meaning fo Christmas.

Because Hermey and Rudolph’s song has some truth, “We may be different from the rest. Who decides the test, of what is really best?” Well, who decides the test, is God. And his decision is to welcome those different from the rest, so I think it’s something we should do too.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Christmas is about welcoming misfits

Teaching Points:

  • Being a “misfit” is a feeling we can all equate to, but hate having.
  • “We may be different from the rest. Who decides the test, of what is really best?”
  • The original Christmas was full of misfits.
  • The Wiseman are foreigners, rich, and different in terms of race, religion, and class.
  • One of Jesus’ first acts upon entering the world is to draw people of difference together.
  • Shepherds were some of the lowest of the low.
  • Jesus’ coming draws misfits together.
  • Christmas is about welcoming the misfits of the world.
  • Jesus decides the test of what is really best.
  • If we want to practice Christmas, it’s about welcome.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? When have you had a time where you didn’t fit in? How did you handle it? Are there places you don’t fit in now? If Christmas is about welcome and including, who should you be including this Christmas? How might you do it? Who can help you to keep to it?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Take sometime and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Afterwards spend sometime talking about the importance of welcoming “those who don’t fit in”. Ask them who they might want to welcome in their school, family, or friends and how they might do it. Then actually help them to do it!

Challenge for the Week: Welcome a misfit; and join in if you are a misfit.

The Christmas Story and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph-Red-Nosed-Reindeer-007This Sunday we are using Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as our jumping off portion of our sermon. I’m very excited about it, because this is one movie I watch every year. I have watched this movie ever year of my life that I can remember. It helps that this movie is almost double my age…but it’s still good!

But here is what the movie really gets to really well. It gets to the fact that so many of us don’t feel like we fit in with the world. That the expectations that are placed on us, are ones we can never live up to.

And many of us feel this reality all the more at Christmas.

And that’s what I want to talk about on Sunday, the feeling of not fitting in. The feeling of being a bit of a misfit. The feeling of not being included, and what Christmas has to say about that.

Because the truth is this: if Christmas is about anything, it certainly is about welcoming.

So that’s where we are going. But before we get there, why not grab some popcorn and watch a great Christmas movie – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and a Bumble that bounces.

Advent and “A Christmas Story”

movieposterThis Sunday we looked at the movie A Christmas Story to give us a fresh perspective on the Christmas story. And we watched this clip of little Ralphie so deeply hoping for a Red-Rider BB Gun.

The point of the clip on Sunday was that in our day and age – we don’t hope like Ralphie does. We are so generally worried about “living in reality” that we reing in hope. We don’t place our hopes on getting this one thing.

But that’s not what we see actually in the life of Mary. She is given an amazing promise of God, something that seems not just unlikely but impossible. But Mary doesn’t let doubt in, she doesn’t temper her hope with “realism”, she doesn’t lower her expectations, but let’s her hope in God run wild. Listen to what she says in Luke 1:46-55:

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary hopes completely in God. She lets her hope in a merciful and strong God run wild. She doesn’t temper her hope with realism, or pragmatism. She hopes against all odds, that God has moved and is working within her.

And I think this is something we need to learn at Christmas especially. We need to learn to hope because Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming and with him everything changes. So we need to learn to hope, we need to let our hope run wild. That was the main point of Sunday. To let our hope in Jesus run wild.

And like Ralphie so deeply desiring a BB Gun, I asked everone one question: What is it you really want for Christmas? What are you really hoping for? And we’re not talking about gifts or deep desires. Is it for a marriage or body to be healed? To finally find a spouse, or purpose? To have a child, or a have a relationship healed? What is it you really want for Christmas?

Because I think that Christmas is a time to let our hope out, to share with God what we need and place our trust in him. That’s what Mary does, and I think that’s what we should do as well. And if there is ever a time to hope, I believe it is now.

So why not today answer that question: what are you hoping for this Christmas? Why not share with Jesus and trust in him to act. Because I know we often think about, “what happens if I get let down?” Well I think Christmas is about asking, what if God shows up and comes through. Because that’s what he did way back when, when he entered the world. And I think he can do it today.

So what are you hoping for?


Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We need to learn to hope.

Teaching Points:

  • Advent is a time where we wait and prepare for Jesus.
  • We don’t hope all that much anymore.
  • We don’t get our hopes up, because it is easier, but not necessarily better.
  • We need to learn to hope recklessly.
  • As Christians we can truly hope.
  • What do you really want this year for Christmas?
  • The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it has established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild. G.K. Chesterton
  • I believe in Hope, capital H, because I believe in Jesus.
  • Hope is the act of taking the next step. Karl Barth

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Would you say you’re someone who hopes – or keeps your hopes realistic? How come? What are you hoping for this year? Who are you hoping with that can support you as you watch and wait for God to move? What reasons do you have to hope in God? How has he been faithful to you in the past? How might he be faithful to you this advent?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Spend sometime talking with your kids about hope. If they write down what gifts they are hoping for, why not have them make another list. “Things I’m hoping for, or things we can pray for”. Have them make a list of things and then pray over those things, and bring those things to Jesus.

Challenge for the Week: Let your hope run wild.

Christmas at the Movies

This Sunday we are starting a brand new series called, “Christmas at the Movies”. We are looking at some of the traditional Christmas stories, and themes and using movies to help us gain a fresh perspective on a changeless story.

So join us each Sunday as we look at these movies over the next five weeks:

  • A Christmas Story
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • National Lampoons Christmas Story
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • It’s a Wonderful Life

I know your favorite movie might not be there but hopefully one of them is, and hopefully we see you this Sunday!

Christmas Movies

Advent Reflection: Worshipping Jesus during Christmas

1371540_95553958On Sunday we looked at one last response to Jesus. We’ve already looked at how we wait for Jesus’ arrival, we are to respond with willingness when he shows up, and yesterday we saw how we are to respond with worship.

We looked at the story of the wisemen or the magi. In it they do something remarkable. They actually fall at Jesus’ feet and worship him when they find him. This is quite amazing because these are professional men, these are wealthy men, these are probably powerful men. And their response to a little boy in a hovel of a town, in the shadow of Herod’s third largest temple, fall on their face in adoration.

This is the response that we are to have towards Jesus Christ when we enter into his presence. We are to adore him. The magi do not fall at the feet of Jesus because of what he has done for them. They do not fall at his feet out of gratitude, because Jesus hasn’t done anything for them at all. They fall at his feet because of who he is. And this is a central part of worship. We need to worship Jesus not just for the good things he does for us, but we need to worship him for who he is.

Because he is King.

Because he is Good.

Because he is the Messiah.

Because he is God.

So we landed on one question from this story. When was the last time you worshipped Jesus like the wisemen did? When was the last time you entered into Jesus’ presence, fell at his feet and really worshipped him?

I think this is an important question because Christmas is to be about Jesus. And if we want to put Jesus at the centre it means to focus on him and worship him. I know when I asked that question, that for me, it’s been too long since I’ve just worshipped Jesus.

So we left with this challenge for this week: Christmas will soon be here, so find time to worship Jesus fully this week. Carve out time to worship him. For you that might be painting, walking, praying, singing, dancing, sitting silently, writing or whatever else. The point isn’t how you worship Jesus, but an invitation to actually do it. So Christmas is here in a few days so why not take up that challenge. If we truly want to bring Christ back into Christmas I think it begins with bringing him back in our lives with a focus on worshipping and adoring him. Because he does deserve it.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We need to worship Jesus fully

Take Aways…

  • Advent should be a season of worship
  • They “Fell down before him and worshipped him”
  • To be prostrate is to be in a position of submission
  • The magi fall at Jesus’ feet out of adoration
  • Adoration differs from other forms of worship such as supplication (asking for things), confession of sins, and offering thanks, inasmuch as it consists in devout recognition of God’s transcendent excellence – Catholic Encylcopedia
  • We need to worship Jesus fully
  • Our response to Jesus in this season, needs to be to worship him fully.
  • When was the last time you came into Jesus’ presence and fell at his feet like the Wisemen?

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Think through this advent season and simply reflect on where your focus has been. Has it been on Jesus or other things? How can you shift your focus to Jesus this week? When was the last time you worshipped Jesus like the wisemen? How might you worship Jesus fully this week? What activities or practices draw you closer to him? Set aside some time this week to spend with Jesus.

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk to your kids about the real reason about Christmas – how it’s about Jesus. Talk to them that its about worshipping him. Ask them how they might want to do that. Maybe they want to dance, maybe they want to give some of their toys to others, maybe they want to draw a picture and talk with Jesus. Whatever it may be why not actually do it with them.

Challenge for this Week Worship: Jesus fully this week

Advent Reflection: Where’s Your Focus?

1373026_24335944On Sunday we are looking at one last response to Jesus in this season of Advent. We’ve already looked at waiting, and being willing to follow and on Sunday we are looking at worshipping. We will be looking at the story of the three Wisemen and their response to Jesus. We’ll be covering a lot of territory including a fight I had with sequined shorts trainer Richard Simmons…not once but twice, the meaning of adoration, and what Christmas is all about. But this post isn’t about Richard Simmons but about Jesus.

So the point is this: Christmas should be about Jesus, so why not make it about Jesus? Why wait till we talk about worship on Sunday, why not find ways to worship Jesus today? Why not make him your focus right here and right now?

If we truly want to bring Jesus back into Christmas I think it begins by bringing him back into our lives. The wisemen’s first reaction and response to Jesus is to fall at his feet in worship, and I think we can learn a lot from that. I think what we can learn is to follow in their example. I know, for me personally, I think about Jesus a lot, I talk to him a lot, I spend time learning about him a lot, but I’m not sure I could say I worship him a lot.

For me this realization isn’t something to feel guilty about, it’s simply something to change. So that’s what I’m going to try to do today – I’m going to try to worship Jesus as fully as I can.

What about you? How can you focus on Jesus and worship him today?

Its a good question to think about, but it’s an even better question to act on.


Preparing for Jesus’ Yes

1430243_28387738On Sunday we looked at two Christmas stories. These two stories are very similar, both people receive amazing promises, have an encounter with an angel, and have some amazing desires met. The difference between the two stories is in the responses of the two people.

The first, Zechariah is promised to receive a special child from the Angel Gabriel. This is an amazing thing, and something he has been hoping for. But because his heart isn’t ready, he is unable to fully receive the promise. His response to Gabriel is “how will I know this will happen?”. He essentially asks, what more proof will there be that this promise will actually come to be? And Gabriel turns to him and essentially simply states, “The fact you are talking to an angel of God should be enough proof”. The point is that for Zechariah his initial response was a bit of reluctance, of hesitancy, of doubt.

The very next story though shows a bit of a different response. The angel Gabriel shows up to Mary and gives her a very similar promise. That she too would bear a son but that this son would be the Messiah. What an amazing promise! Her response though is very different from Zechariah’s, she says, “I am willing to accept whatever God wants”. Her response is willingness.

So we ended asking the question if God were to show up today – what would be your response to him? Would it be reluctance or acceptance? Would it be doubt or willingness?

I think this is an  important question to ask because I believe we’d like to be like Mary – responding with acceptance and willingness. The trouble is the longer we wait for God’s promises the more difficult it is to respond with Mary. We start to base our hopes on our expectations, rather than on God’s ability to do the impossible. We start to base our hopes on our reality, rather than God’s.

So we ended with this challenge on Sunday. Let’s prepare our hearts for God’s arrival. Jesus is coming; that’s what Advent is all about. So let’s prepare our hearts so that when he comes we can respond like Mary, with willingness and acceptance.

The only way to prepare our hearts to be able to be like Mary, I think, is to simply get closer to God. The closer we are to God the more likely we can respond rightly to God. So this week focus on getting closer to Jesus. Spend time with him in prayer, in conversation, in closeness and let that start to prepare your heart for his arrival. Advent is a time of preparation, so let’s prepare for Jesus because one thing is sure. He is coming, so let’s be ready.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea We need to have willing hearts

Take Aways…

  • Advent a time of waiting but also preparing.
  • We couch our expectations in our version of reality
  • Zechariah has based his life on what he thought is possible
  • We can be so unprepared in our hearts and minds, that we don’t even believe the promise and struggle to receive it.
  • In Zechariah’s response there is reluctance, in Mary’s there is willingness
  • What would be your response -willingness, or doubt?
  • We need to prepare our hearts to accept the impossible.
  • We need to have willing hearts.
  • Get close to God

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

What have you been waiting for? Would you say you are ready to receive it? What might be your response today to Jesus’ arrival in your life? How can you get closer to Jesus this week? What will you do this week?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: This week simply watch your kids. Give them something exciting, something great, and watch how easily they receive it. Kids have a natural way of receiving good things without questioning it. Why not learn from them this week.

Challenge for this Week: Get close to Jesus.

Preparing For Christmas and More Importantly – Christ

1409165_39019246This Sunday we are looking at another Advent theme. We are looking at preparing. The truth is for anything big in our lives we start to prepare. People prepare for weddings for months, the prepare for Christmas for weeks, and prepare for days for birthdays.

The point is that the larger the event is the more we prepare. We think about it, we plan for it, we make adjustments for it.

The question then is how are you preparing for Jesus’ coming?

Because this is a major event. This is a life changing reality. This is what Christmas is all about. So how are you personally preparing your life? And not just preparing your home with decorations and gifts. How are you preparing your spirit and soul for his coming this year?

This is what we are going to be talking about Sunday but I don’t think we need to wait till Sunday to start preparing. Why not take sometime this weekend to prepare your heart for Jesus’ coming. Spend some time with him, talk with him, focus on him. Prepare your house and heart for him, and not just all the friends and family you will be having in.

Because the promise of Advent is that Christ comes. So let’s be ready for his arrival.