00:00 You're listening to a live recording from west side church in bend Oregon. Thanks for joining us. So great. And Merry Christmas. I do want to say, I know Mike was confused. I think it's still Christmas. I know, even in Eastern Europe, I think they celebrate a second day of Christmas today. So a welcome to Christmas part, two folks. we do want to say that we hope you had a wonderful holiday yesterday and, for those that were with us on Christmas Eve, what a beautiful time together. And we so enjoyed seeing so many faces, with us all together. And, but we don't want to leave out those that are watching online either on Christmas Eve or today. We want to say thank you for tuning in today, as well as you can see, I brought a very large Bible with me and, this is a family Bible that I got from my grandmother, when we were going through some of her things a couple of years ago.
00:56 And I was reminded of that. we, we said goodbye to grandma. She passed, earlier in December of this year. And so a pretty meaningful holiday this year as we headed towards Christmas. And I remembered I have this Bible, that was hers. And that was the families sitting in my office here at the church. And it goes all the way back to 1855 in the, the dates listed in the Bible, 1855. I was remembering this was the year that doc and Marty went back to hill valley with the DeLorean in back to the future three. So, you know, history, buffs, you might remember that. but, but 1885, it's a very old Bible and, the McCoy family are the ones that had this, and the McCoys, along with the Hatfields, where my grandparents. So I don't know that I have no idea I'm just making stuff up, but I was remembering, just as, as we gathered on Christmas Eve and, and, so many came out and we were just together in this, in this space, just how meaningful the rhythms of these holidays are, you know, how meaningful it is to connect and be in relationship and the sense of family, whether it's it's blood relatives or the community that we find ourselves in here in the church, the meaningful pieces of our rhythms, pastor Steve talked about when Jesus was brought to the temple to be dedicated and semi in this prophet was there also in the temple.
02:27 And I thought about that today, as we were dedicating Hazel, the power of what we bring our children before the Lord, and as pastor Steve talked about on Christmas Eve, when Jesus is brought to the temple by Mary and Joseph semi in this prophet, sees the child and, and the Bible tells us that Simeon has spent his whole life looking towards the redemption of Israel. And so as he comes to the temple that day, he hears the voice of the holy spirit pointing out this child Jesus. And so for the very first time publicly is, is, there with the child. And he ties Jesus to the prophecy about the Messiah out of Isaiah chapter nine, where it says, those living in the land of darkness and the shadow of darkness for them, a light has dawned. And then Isaiah goes on in chapter nine.
03:17 And the very famous passage for unto us a child is born unto us. A son is given, and his name will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, the prince of peace. And, and it's in this moment of dedication, really that, that Jesus receives, this connection to what was promised would come. And the reason that this happens is because this guy sent me in this prophet, who is, who's been waiting for. The Messiah to show up, was, was ready with a promise, came, someone was waiting there. And along with him, this prophetess named Hannah, they were ready and waiting, holding onto the hope that the promises of God were good and that they would enter into a moment, that those that had gone before them never got to see where they would hold the child Jesus in their arms. And I thought about that story even today, as we're dedicating Hazel and I'm, I'm holding this ginormous Bible, the thought that generations go by and people hold onto hope in the promises of God.
04:20 Some will never see it, but because they hold onto that hope, those that come later might step into the promises of God. And I thought about this for, for us as, as reflected on my grandmother's life. And does she receive all the promises of God? Probably not for her life, but she held onto hope that God was good for what he promised and I'm here because of her. And so many others that have gone before us holding onto the hope and the promises of God. And so I am encouraged when I think about the future. Why? Because I believe that we are standing in a place where light still shines in darkness. I don't want to talk about this today. As we kind of wrap up our Christmas series and we're going to go to the book of John chapter one. And if you have a Bible, you can go there.
05:07 I'm going to set this Bible somewhere else because it's so large. Can I give this to you, Ben, be careful that it'll fall apart. John chapter one, I don't want to read this as we wrap up our Christmas series today. this is probably my favorite, passage on the birth of Jesus is John's telling now, John was a disciple of Jesus. He walked with Jesus and towards the end of his life, he sat down and he wrote the gospel of John. It was written last of all, the four gospels. It's the very last one written. And it has the benefit of a lot of hindsight that John is now old in his life. And he's able to look back on the story of his life that included these months and years that he spent with his friend Jesus. So he sits down to write about, how this all came to be.
06:01 And unlike Luke, he doesn't start with the birth of Jesus. He goes even further back. So let me read this out of John chapter one, starting in verse one in the beginning was the word and the word was with God. And the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. And without him, nothing was made that was made in him was life. And the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. I was driving with my daughter Clara she's nine, a few days before Christmas. And it was kind of getting late in the afternoon. And as the sun was setting and we were driving past Christmas lights in the neighborhoods, she turned to me and she said, dad, why do we have lights at Christmas time?
06:51 And, looking back, it was a wonderful moment, both as a father, but also as a pastor to really tie in, the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. And we celebrate his birthday at Christmas and I could have said all these things instead. I said, well, you know, sweetie, winters are really long in Scandinavia. And I think that's where we got a lot of our traditions. So it's probably something to do with that as we're driving along. I think I could have probably brought up some spiritual truth. That was maybe a teaching moment. No. Well, so I'm bringing the teaching moment to you. Claire's not even in the room, but you're going to receive the teaching moment. I should have given to my nine-year-old.
07:32 The fact is, maybe the Scandinavians had it right when the night is the darkest and the longest we need the light the most. And I think, at the heart of our celebrations of the coming of Jesus is really an acknowledgement that the night is dark and the night is long. And so we actually are in a place where we desire so much the light that signals that there is hope for the future. And when Jesus shows up John points back to the fact that he is the light of the world and not just in his calming, but all the way back to another one, one another one, one in the Bible where we have the same words that start out, John one, one in the beginning, do you remember the other one, one Genesis, one, one in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
08:24 And what John is doing is he's tying this, moment of, of the birth of Christ and the coming of Jesus to the beginning of all things, the creation, when God himself spoke into the darkness, into the void, into the chaos of the world and he begins to create. And when does he start with light? You know, just like, in your house, have you ever tried to mop the floors in the dark? I don't recommend it right before you clean the house. You set things in order. What do you have to do? You have to turn on the lights. And this is what God does is before he goes about the work of setting things in order in Genesis one, one, he turns on the lights and before Jesus sets about his work of setting things right in the world that we live in, he turns on the light. So let's pray today, father, we thank you for Jesus. Once again, we thank you that he is the light of the world. We thank you that when the night is dark and long, we have hope in the light of the world that shines in the darkness. And so today, as we've been talking about all month long, we receive you Jesus into our world, into our hearts, into the darkness, around us, that she was shining your light and that we would receive you pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
09:51 Just as one one in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And then God said, let there be light. And there was light and God saw the light that it was good. And God divided the light from darkness. The Genesis narrative continues after light comes. God sets about the work of creating the cosmos and the world and animals and creatures. And then he finally creates mankind. He creates this beautiful, perfect garden. He sets them in the garden and he creates this ideal and perfect space where God can meet and have relationship with mankind and everything is perfect. According to the Genesis story, perfect world, perfect garden, perfect humans. And then in Genesis chapter three, we find that God walks among them in the cool of the day, which is really like the perfect time of day.
10:51 Anybody not here for the hot scorching sun. You like you avoid beach vacations. You'd rather be up in the mountains with layers and cool weather. Ben, I know where you at Ben. I know this is you, my friend. We'll talk about how we can leave the beaches alone, give us some place where we can put a nice jacket on and enjoy some cooler weather. Anybody with us, I was hoping I would, I would bring all of you on our side on this thing. I don't think I've succeeded, but here we have in Genesis, this, this idea that even the time of day, that God comes to meet and walk around with man and have this, this moment of a relationship and communion. Isn't the cool today, the perfect time of the day. So we have, all things are lined up perfect world, perfect garden, perfect humans, perfect time of day.
11:40 That's when God comes to meet with man and woman when everything's perfect. And I think the thing that gives me a tremendous amount of hope. When I look at the state of what we face in our family, we face in our world, what we face in 2022. What gives me such a tremendous amount of hope is that whereas things started with the need for perfection, for God, to meet with man. When Jesus shows up, he breaks all of those conditions. The time of day is not perfect. He's born in the dead of night, in a storage shed behind the hotel. The stable is filthy. The family is poor. The girl is unmarried. The night is dark. Israel is enslaved. My goodness. We are so far away from the perfection of Eden, the perfection of that place, where everything was so perfectly in line so that God could meet with man.
12:40 None of the conditions are met and unto us, a child is born in about as far from perfect as we can find. And I think this is why, so many that we're looking for, the Messiah missed it. When it came, they weren't there to recognize Jesus as the Messiah because they were under the impression. I think it's one that we can easily assume today that if only we could get back to where things are perfect, we would set the stage for God to speak again. If only we could get back to the place where all the circumstances line up, where everything fits perfectly in line, where everything is perfect, maybe then he'd step in and he'd meet us in the world we live in. And I wonder today, if you ever feel like if only you could get back before life threw a curve ball, you ever feel this way. Like, like things changed. At some point, things took a turn. If only we could undo that if only we could get back to before, before the marriage fell apart before the diagnosis, before the bankruptcy, before things changed before the kids left the house. Before, if we could just get back before all of this change, it would be perfect.
14:04 What gives me great hope is that Jesus comes not when things are perfect, but when things are in need of light, the most, and Jesus walks among us, not on perfectly timed settings, not in, in a perfectly manicured lawn in the cool of the evening, but to walk beside us and the dusty streets and the scorching heat with the sick and the broken and the needy, he walks with us and it's in Jesus, God with us that we find that God has moved out of the palace out of the perfection. He's walked past the garden and he's moved into the messy wild with us, God with us. Do you have resolutions for the new year? Do we do this anymore? I don't know if we do this anymore. I think it's fallen out of style to have too many resolutions, maybe 20, 22. And we just, you know, we're not going to do resolutions. We're just going to figure it out as we go. but if you do have resolutions, I mean, good for you. Good for you. What's the quote. if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.
15:10 So my resolution, for this year is I'm going to give up on perfect. Some of you are probably thinking, we assumed you gave up a long time ago. Don't clap for that. Clap again. Get out of this room. I don't think we get to perfect. Even when our resolutions give us maybe the hope that we would. I don't think we get there anyway, but I'm, I'm fairly confident. that perfection is actually not where Jesus hangs out in our lives. It's not the perfect places where we finally finally come to that, that, that ideal spot, you know, the perfect family, the perfect body, the perfect health, the perfect finances, the perfect job fill in the blank. I, I'm not sure that that's actually where Jesus hangs out in our lives. What I've found in my life is it's actually in the imperfect places that I find the sweet, sustaining restorative presence of Jesus, just like in Genesis one, one, it says the spirit of God hovered over the waters in the darkness. It's in the chaotic waters and darkness of my life. Many times that I find the presence of the holy spirit hovering to bring creative power, to bring his restorative work, the same Jesus that showed up as light in darkness, dawning for those who, who walked into man. And when I'm in darkness, that's when I find the presence of Jesus is still becoming flesh in my life. So it, up on perfect. Give up on. Perfect.
16:53 I heard this quote, from, a celebrity, which take it or leave it, but, Bano, he's the lead singer of the, now probably classic rock. you should just be a rock band from Ireland. Now it's classic rock band from Ireland. but he said this in a speech and it was, it was so moving. He said, God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor Playhouse God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives. And God is with us if we are with them. And you know, I can't vouch for all of Banos theology, but I think he might be onto something that God hangs out, not in the perfect places when we've presented ourselves so well. And we figured it all out, but God presents himself like he did in the first century in Bethlehem when nothing has gone, right?
17:44 And the night is dark and the end is full, that God shows up. And I have a question for you where in your life are those places of imperfection that you're even ashamed to admit that maybe Jesus could show up in those places that maybe as a church, that, that our desire might be to put forward this image of a community that has it all figured out. But instead we would allow Jesus to bring to us and work in us and acknowledgement that he shows up when we don't have it all figured out. And we don't have all the things in line. The Jesus shows up when the night is dark.
18:33 We move on in the first chapter of John to verse 14, it says, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory. The glory is one only be gotten to the father full of grace and truth. God became flesh and dwelt were with us right here, right here in your crazy family, right here in your, your, your missed goals right here in pandemics and uncertainty right here. We're not, everything has gone completely. According to plan, God became flesh and he dwelt among us into right. he's a, a scholar and a writer. And he said with fear and trembling, we discover how to allow that word to go on becoming flesh every day. And my hope for us as we step into a new year and we'll close here in a minute or so. But my hope for us in the new year is that we would allow Jesus to settle in, in our lives in maybe a more, complete way.
19:47 You know, do you ever compartmentalize your life? Like you have, you have pieces of your life that, that, you're proud of or that you're you post on social media, your grandkids, your, your vacations, all those things. I think we do that spiritually, too. We have the pieces of our lives that we will allow Jesus to look at and deal with and work with. And, and then there's the sides of our lives and our worlds and our, our, our, our minds that we just kind of put a barrier up and say, Jesus, no more. I wonder if we could today allow Jesus to come into the whole mess, to have access to all of it, to bring his creative miracle, working power to all the darkness and all the places in our lives. I wrote this. I said, perhaps if I really want to be close to Jesus, I should stop asking him to join myself improvement goals and instead join him and what he's been doing ever since that first night moving into the messiness of real life.
20:52 And so, as we close today, I just want to, maybe invite you into a new openness with Jesus. So where we have nothing hidden from him. We don't hold back from him, but we allow him to move into the messiness of our real lives. 20, 22, who knows what's going to happen to 2021 go exactly according to plan for anybody. Like, of course not. And so we don't know what's going to happen in 2022. but we have a lot of hope. We have a lot of hope. Why, because Jesus still shows up in all the messy places of life. And so Jesus, a day, we invite your light and your presence into every corner of our world. And as we head into a new year and, it'll likely be filled with uncertainty. We don't know what's around every corner, but we know that you're waiting for us when we get there.
21:56 And so we invite that presence of Jesus. We open up our hearts today. Maybe, maybe for the first time we open up our hearts, places that we haven't allowed you to, to access before today with Jesus, we ask you, come into the messiness of our hearts and our minds and our lives move into this neighborhood. Be God with us, Jesus, we receive you. And we hold onto hope that in the future, you have good things for us as a community for our city, for our nation, for our world, because of your great love that you are still the light that shines in darkness. God, we pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. Well, we want to say thank you, for those online, for tuning in. That's great for those of you that came out in the morning on December 26. well done. We, we, I w I wouldn't say that we had a bet going, but we were trying to guess how many people would, would brave the snow and show up. And I, I gotta be honest, you, surpass your expectations. What'd you say that Ben so well done. I want you to give yourselves a round of applause actually for coming out.
23:11 next week we have, we're going to have a special time, pastor Ben, pastor, Steve, and myself. We're going to share some of where we're headed in the new year and some of the vision for west side church and, what we believe God is speaking to us. we hope you have a safe week, a great new year's celebrations, and we'll see you next week.