One of the big themes of Christmas family gatherings is stories. “Remember when?” “Remember that time?”
As kids and teenagers, we would roll our eyes whenever some family member started telling the same old story for what seemed like the millionth time. But as we got older, we longed to hear the stories. And what we started to realize is that even when we were younger and acted like the stories were annoying or boring, we secretly loved them too. This is because they’re more than just nostalgia, they’re part of our identity.
The stories remind us of who we are, and for better or worse, who we’re part of and who we belong to. It’s a connection to each other and something greater than the present moment.
If you pay attention to the news, especially as of late, it’s delivered many disheartening stories. And what’s powerful is that these reports are driven by one thing – a story. For better or worse.
Now we gather here together in the midst of the Christmas season. And unlike any other time, we are surrounded by stories. It’s the season of stories.
The title of this series is Unlikely. How God’s power in the Christmas story happens in such unlikely ways and how this story is shared in an unlikely way with an unlikely group.
But then something happens – the group makes it THEIR STORY. And it changes everything.
Excitement. What happens when you find the best restaurant, see the best movie, binge the best TV show, or read the best book? What happens when it’s something you’re really excited about?
You want to share it. You want to talk about it.
And when you do, people either get pulled into your excitement, think you’re a little nuts, or both.
You want to be the person that told everyone. But also, you love it so much you don’t want to keep it inside. There’s something more powerful in a personal testimony than that of the most prepared, polished message or speech.
There’s THE story. But then there’s OUR story of THE story. Not just God revealing Himself, but our story of God doing it.
When it’s yours, you tell it differently. Think of when you find out someone is getting married or someone is pregnant. Now, think of when it’s you who’s pregnant or getting married. Your recall when you experience something firsthand is very different.
Why have a bunch of angels announce to some shepherds who wouldn’t even be trusted as credible? This seems like a terrible marketing strategy. If this is about getting the message out in the most impressive, persuasive way possible, why not have the angels make a big appearance in the middle of the biggest city to the most powerful and influential people?
Because it’s not just about the message – the data, the facts, the information. It’s about how the message is carried in us. Just like the shepherds.
It’s not because we try to put the best light on THE story, but because of how it changes us when it becomes OUR story. And when we retell it, there’s such transforming power in it. That’s how a simple testimony – a story of God in our lives – so easily outshines the most eloquent, well-crafted sermon.
Now you’re probably thinking, my story isn’t that great, it’s not even that interesting. That’s the good news of Christmas. It’s the power of God released when you retell YOUR story. It’s unlikely.
Throughout this whole series we’ve seen unlikely people, unlikely events, unlikely ways, unlikely places, and unlikely choices. We’re actually invited to choose to become the unlikely choice.
Think about how Jesus came.
Jesus didn’t send a message, give an inspirational talk, or divulge some helpful advice. He just showed up because He is the truth and the life. And the best way to celebrate Christmas is by doing the same thing.
Have you ever had one of those people who offered helpful advice from afar when you were in need? It doesn’t change much. But when someone shows up, even if they don’t have the best solutions or answers, it changes everything.
This Christmas: just tell one person YOUR story of God.
Don’t worry about whether it’s the best story. It’s not about that. The shepherds only had their story of what they had seen and heard. And it’s not even about it being new. This is a story as old as time.
Remember, we come back to the same things every Christmas. But it’s all about how it becomes NEW in us.
Because when a story is taken up by a person and then taken up collectively, for better or worse, that story changes the world.
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