Willow Creek Christmas Eve 2018

(slow instrumental music) – [Narrator] In the beginning was the word and the word was God. Through Him, all things were made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people. (slow piano music) But people loved darkness instead of the light. (dramatic music) The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (“Silent Night”) The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. The word became flesh and made his dwelling with us. We have seen His glory. The glory of the one and only son, who came from the father
full of grace and truth. ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ – Merry Christmas everybody. And welcome to Willow Creek. We’re so glad you’re here to celebrate Christmas with us. Would you stand to your feet and let’s sing this out together. Joy to the world. ♪ Joy to the world, the Lord is come ♪ ♪ Let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ Let every heart prepare Him room ♪ ♪ And heaven and nature sing ♪ ♪ And heaven and nature sing ♪ ♪ And heaven and heaven and nature sing ♪ ♪ Joy to the world, the savior reigns ♪ ♪ Let men their songs employ ♪ ♪ While fields and floods,
rocks, hills and plains ♪ ♪ Repeat the sounding joy ♪ ♪ Repeat the sounding joy ♪ ♪ Repeat, repeat the sounding joy ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ He rules the world
with truth and grace ♪ ♪ And makes the nations prove ♪ ♪ The glories of His righteousness ♪ ♪ And wonders of His love ♪ ♪ And wonders of His love ♪ ♪ And wonders, wonders of His love ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ ♪ The Lord has come, the Lord has come ♪ ♪ So let Earth receive her king ♪ (audience applauding) (upbeat music) – All right, let’s put our hands together (clapping) Hey! ♪ Hark, the herald angels sing ♪ ♪ Glory to the newborn king ♪ ♪ Peace on earth and mercy mild ♪ ♪ God and sinners reconciled ♪ ♪ Joyful all ye nations rise ♪ ♪ Join the triumph of the skies ♪ ♪ With angelic host proclaim ♪ ♪ Christ is born in Bethlehem ♪ ♪ Hark the herald angels sing ♪ ♪ Glory to the newborn king ♪ ♪ Christ by highest heaven adored ♪ ♪ Christ the everlasting Lord ♪ ♪ Late in time, behold him come ♪ ♪ Offspring of a virgin’s womb ♪ ♪ Veiled in flesh, the Godhead seed ♪ ♪ Hail the incarnate deity ♪ ♪ Please with us in flesh do dwell ♪ ♪ Jesus, our Emmanuel ♪ ♪ Hark the herald angels sing ♪ ♪ Glory to the newborn king ♪ (synthesizer riff) ♪ Hark the herald angels sing ♪ ♪ Glory to the newborn king ♪ ♪ Hark, the herald angels sing ♪ ♪ Glory to the newborn king. ♪ (smooth saxophone music) ♪ Angels we have heard on high ♪ ♪ Sweetly singing over the plains ♪ ♪ And the mountains did reply ♪ ♪ Echoing their joyous strain ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Shepherds, why this jubilee ♪ ♪ Why your joyous strains prolong ♪ ♪ What the gladsome tidings be ♪ ♪ Which inspire your heavenly song ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ in excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Come to Bethlehem and see ♪ ♪ Him whose birth the angels sing ♪ ♪ Come, adore on bended knee, ♪ ♪ Christ the Lord, the newborn King. ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ in excelsis deo ♪ – All right, we’re gonna have
some fun in here tonight. You guys sound great. We wanna get you moving
around a little bit. So we’re gonna do a simple side-to-side. Four counts going this way and
four counts going this way, but we gotta work together. Here we go, doing this way. One, two, three. The other way. All right, looking pretty good. Now there’s some people who’ve got more dance moves that this, so
we want to let you break out a little bit. We’re gonna give you a
freestyle, little breakdown. Here we go. One, two, freestyle. (upbeat jazz music) All right back to the
side-to-side, going this way. The other way. All right, you can sing and you can move, but the question is, can you
sing and move at the same time? We’re about to find out. All right, sing this with us. ♪ Glory to our God on high ♪ – Not bad, not bad ♪ Glory, to our God on high ♪ – All right, check it up people. Here we go. ♪ Glory to our God on high ♪ ♪ Glory to our God on high ♪ ♪ Got to give Him glory ♪ ♪ Glory to our God on high ♪ ♪ Glory to our God on high. ♪ – Glory in excelsis deo, sing it. ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ (audience applauding) – Well, Merry Christmas everyone. We’re so glad that you’re
with us this afternoon and I probably don’t think you expect we’re gonna have a dance party up in here, but we just did. Give yourselves an applause. Come on that was good. You were looking good,
moving good, feeling good, but we’ve got so much
ahead in this service. Before we get to it, why
don’t you look to a neighbor before you take a seat
and say Merry Christmas. – [Congregation] Merry Christmas. (congregation chattering) – Now one of the things that I’ve learned through the years is
that people have opinions about Christmas music. It’s hard to believe,
but there are some people who don’t care for Christmas
music all that much and if that’s you, you
are in the wrong place. But if you’re like me and
you love Christmas music, you look forward the
whole year for the chance to sing some of your
favorite Christmas carols. Anybody in that category? (audience applauding) Anybody love Christmas carols? But here’s the problem, there’s so much great
Christmas music in my mind that we can’t do it all. So undoubtedly we’re gonna
send some people home disappointed because we didn’t do their favorite Christmas song. But we thought if we took
requests from the audience then we could at least send four or five people home happy. (audience laughing) The rest of you, I don’t know about. But I just saw in peripheral vision here, as soon as I said taking requests, this young gentleman put his hand up. So why don’t you come over here? You’re looking pretty
dabber in that jacket. What’s your name? – Zao. – And you got a camouflage
shirt underneath the jacket. So I can see the jacket, but
I can’t see anything else going on. It looks pretty good. Do you love Christmas music? – Yes. – What is your all-time
favorite Christmas song that you would like us to try and do? – White Christmas. – White Christmas, all right. I think we could do it. I actually think that I heard some people over in section 102
over there singing this before the service. Sharon, are you over there? – Yeah. – Can you give us a little I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. – Yeah. Can you help me out? Yeah? Come on, we gotta get in it. All right. ♪ I dreaming of a white Christmas ♪ ♪ Just like the ones I used to know ♪ ♪ Where the treetops glisten
and children listen ♪ All right ♪ To hear sleigh bells in the snow ♪ I’m dreaming. ♪ I’m dreaming of a white Christmas ♪ ♪ With every Christmas card I write ♪ ♪ May your days be merry and bright ♪ ♪ And may all your Christmases be white ♪ (audience applauding) – Sharon could you be sure to get her name and contact info, just because. I know some people, who know some people. All right, any other suggestions? Someone else have a favorite? Just shout it out. Oh holy night, that is a great suggestion, but in about 15 minutes
we’re gonna do that song. So we don’t want to steal the thunder, but that was a great idea. Yes, right here? Which one? Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. I think we know that. Fatai do you know that? – Absolutely, we know this song right? Can you guys help me out? What’s the first Rudolf? (audience laughing) I’m Australian, we don’t
have reindeer and stuff. ♪ Rudolf the red-nose reindeer ♪ ♪ Had a very shiny nose ♪ ♪ And if you ever saw it ♪ ♪ You would even say it glows ♪ ♪ All of the other reindeer ♪ ♪ Used to laugh and call him names ♪ ♪ They never let poor Rudolf ♪ ♪ Join in any reindeer games ♪ ♪ But then one foggy Christmas Eve ♪ ♪ Santa came to say ♪ ♪ Rudolf with your nose so bright ♪ ♪ Would you guide my sleigh tonight ♪ ♪ Then all the others loved him ♪ ♪ As they shouted out with glee ♪ Come on, yippee ♪ Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer ♪ ♪ You’ll go down in ♪ – I tricked ya. ♪ History ♪ (audience applauding) – You know we’re killing
it down here James. What is going on in the Mezzanine? Are people having a good time up there? – We’re pretty much killing it too Matt. I mean I feel like we got the
party people up right here. – [Matt] Amazing, amazing. – In the mezz. – Let’s find out what
they wanna hear today. – Well actually on the way up here, this lovely lady had a request. So we’ll see how this goes. Excuse ma’am, what’s your name? – Janine. – Janine, what would you like to hear this Christmas afternoon? – Sweet Little Jesus Boy. – I knew I should have
listened to that before. (audience laughing) – [James] She says she can
do a couple bars acapella. Shall we let her give it a go? Church, you guys wanna
hear it from Janine? – [Matt] Let’s hear it. – Janine, stand right on up. I’m gonna be your mike stand. Here we go, just a couple bars. ♪ Sweet little Jesus boy ♪ ♪ Born long time ago ♪ ♪ Sweet little holy child ♪ ♪ And they didn’t know who you were ♪ (audience applauding) – Well, well, well. – [James] Janine the diva, come on. – I mean there’s one service after this, but I think I’m gonna take it off. If we could just have a
couple of you stick around for the next service, that’d be great. I can have Christmas
dinner a little early. Hey Marsh? – [Marsh] Yo. – What’s going on way up there? – [Marsh] We’re rocking it in 308. (audience cheering) Yes? It’s a pretty big deal up here. – Are they singing up there
as much as they’re shouting. – Oh my gosh, I haven’t heard a thing you guys have done. – [Matt] All right, well
how about let’s hear what you guys wanna do. – What are we thinking? (audience member chattering) Oh my gosh. – [Matt] What, what are we doing? – Is the one that does,
gig-a-da-gig, hee haw, hee haw. (audience cheering) Yeah, we don’t know that song. What as the other one I heard. – [Audience Member] Let It Snow. – Let It Snow. Let It Snow. – [Matt] Let’s make it happen. – Let’s do it. ♪ Oh the weather outside is frightful ♪ ♪ But the fire is so delightful ♪ ♪ And since we’ve no place to go ♪ ♪ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ♪ ♪ Oh it doesn’t show signs of stopping ♪ ♪ But I brought some corn for popping ♪ ♪ The lights are turned way down low ♪ Big finish. ♪ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ♪ (audience applauding) – Awesome, anyone, yes right here? – [Audience Member] Silver Bells. – Silver Bells. I think we can do this, but
there’s a big echo part in this. Like we’ll get to the chorus. So what I want to have happen. We’ll sing the verse and
then we get to the chorus and everyone sings the first part and then just you’ll sing the echo part. (audience laughing) So I mean we’ve had two home runs so far. So let’s just see. You don’t know what you got yourself into. Yeah, all right, I
wouldn’t want to either, that’s why I asked you to do it. Okay, so how does this one start? ♪ City sidewalks ♪ ♪ Busy sidewalks ♪ ♪ Dressed in holiday styles ♪ That’s pretty high. ♪ In the air there’s a
feeling of Christmas ♪ ♪ Children laughing ♪ ♪ People passing ♪ ♪ Leaving smile after smile ♪ ♪ And on every street corner you hear ♪ All right, everybody sing this here. ♪ Silver bells ♪ ♪ Silver bells ♪ ♪ Silver bells ♪ ♪ Silver bells ♪ ♪ It’s Christmastime in the city ♪ Now the other way around, you go first ♪ Ring-A-Ling ♪ ♪ Ring-A-Ling ♪ ♪ Hear them ring ♪ ♪ Hear them ring ♪ ♪ Soon it will be Christmas Day ♪ (audience applauding) – We did it, we are really doing it. Awesome, let’s do one
more song all together. Why don’t we stand up. Let’s sing The First Noel. ♪ The first noel ♪ ♪ The angels did say ♪ ♪ Was to certain poor shepherds ♪ ♪ In fields as they lay ♪ ♪ In fields where they
lay keeping their sheep ♪ ♪ On a cold winter’s night ♪ ♪ That was so deep ♪ ♪ Noel ♪ ♪ Noel ♪ ♪ Noel ♪ ♪ Noel ♪ ♪ Born is the king of Israel ♪ (audience applauding) – Well, Merry Christmas everybody. You can go ahead and have your seats. My name is Ashlee and I’m
one of the pastors here at our church. It is very clear that
we’ve done a great job of getting in the Christmas spirit, but I just wanted to take
a moment and let you know that whether you’ve been
around our church for decades or you’re here for the very first time, you are welcome here. We are a church made up
of different generations and cultures and backgrounds. But for those of us who call Willow home and who gather here regularly,
we do so for one reason and one reason only and
that is to proclaim the name of Christ to reclaim His name
as the head of our church and the head of our lives. We are grateful for His love and His grace and we hope to spread that
love to the world around us. That’s who we are. (audience applauding) So at this point, I’d like to invite our service host
forward as we prepare to receive our offering. (audience applauding) This part of our service
is just for those of us who call Willow home,
and I wanna let you know in service host you can go
ahead and pause in your places for just a moment. Instead of a year-end fund this year, we are focusing all of our giving efforts to help close out 2018
with a strong finish. So we’re starting an
initiative called Close the Gap and we’re hoping that this
helps us close the year strongly and set up 2019 well. Part of who we are as a
church is being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to people who are oftentimes so forgotten. So a few weeks ago we had a chance to pack some Christmas gifts for inmates, both men and women all
around the state of Illinois. It’s one of our favorite
things to do as a church and oftentimes we receive
letters back from these inmates and I wanted to read you
just a part of a letter we received this year. It says included with this
letter is a tithe check. I have to admit that tithing
is truly a test for my faith and a true test of obedience. I get afraid that I would not have enough, that I need to grasp onto what I have and that my future will be
full of need and hardship. Be that as it may, I choose now to give with an open and generous
heart knowing the Lord loves a cheerful giver, and is
himself a cheerful giver to his children. That was from Tom. He’s an inmate at Lawrence
Correctional Center, so I just wanna say Tom
if you or your family are watching, Merry Christmas brother. We are grateful for you and
we love you as a church. (audience applauding) Let’s pray for our offering now. Heavenly father, thank you that is true that you are a faithful and good God. You give good gifts to your kids God and receive these resources now with open and generous hearts just like Tom. God we pray that you would
multiply these resources only for your glory and
for the good of your church and your kingdom here on Earth. We love you and we’re grateful
for your son Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen. Amen, service hosts you can go ahead and receive our offering. If you’re joining us on
willowcreek.tv we’re glad that you’ve tuned in. There’s a way for you
to give online as well. On your way in, everyone should
have receive this handout. In it you can find a lot about
what’s coming up in the life of our church over the next few weeks, but if you are a guest
we’d love to meet you and shake your hand, look you in the eye and welcome you to our church. So right after this service, you can meet us in guest central. It’s in the main lobby, you can meet some of our pastors here and get
to know more about our church. Or immediately after
service if you’d like to see more of our building, we’re hosting a tour of our brand new kid’s
space called Promisedland and it was just renovated a few weeks ago and it’s an awesome space for our kids. So you can meet right at
the bottom of the stairs at the waterfall in the main
lobby and we’ll take you on a short tour and you can see
more of our church that way. If you’re joining us next
weekend, we’re kicking off a brand new three-week
series called Together. Matt Wright will be starting us off, talking about leaving loneliness behind and then pastors, Jeff
Manion and Albert Tate will be joining us in 2019
to finish off the series and we’re excited to have them as well. Speaking of together,
for those of you who know how important community
is, we believe as a church that God designed
community so that we won’t do our lives alone, we weren’t
meant to do life alone. So on Wednesday January 16th,
we’re hosting an event here called GroupLaunch where
you can meet people from your neighborhood
or from your life stage and potentially get
plugged into a small group if you’re not in one already. If you’re interested in
GroupLaunch you can got online to willowcreek.org/nextsteps
and find more details there. Well, we’ve sung some
carols, we’ve told you a little bit about what’s
coming up here at our church, but for some of you,
perhaps you’re wondering who we are as a church
and what we’re all about. If that’s you, take a look at this. (upbeat techno music) (audience applauding) – I love the little snippets
of stories in that video and I personally really
resonate with that last one. It says simply, it’s my home. As someone who has lived
most of my adult life pretty far away from
home, far away from family that I love and adore,
the church, this church, has been a home and a family for me. I have been looking forward
for weeks, honestly for months, to getting to celebrate
and usher in Christmas with all of you, so it’s
good to be here tonight. I think for all of us, throughout
the season with the snow and the shopping and the
songs, our anticipation for Christmas has been slowly building. But do you remember what
it was like as kids? That terrible concoction
of our anticipation and a steady stream of
sugar meant that we spent an entire month being
whipped into a frenzy, so that by Christmas Eve our
hopes were at a fever pitch. Every Christmas Eve I’d get sent to bed and I’d lay there wide
awake, my mind churning, wondering what the next day would hold and all the while I would work
myself into a kind of panic because I knew that for
every moment I lay awake I was endangering the whole house’s chance of even having a Christmas
because Santa wasn’t coming until everyone was sleeping. It’s a lot of pressure! I did not handle it well. My mom would tell you
that more specifically, my stomach did not handle it well. Year after year you would
find me in the wee hours of Christmas morning
dry-heaving in the bathroom. But year after year, there was my mom gently rubbing my back
and speaking soothingly. I remember one Christmas
Eve late at night my mom and I sitting side by side once again on the cold tile floor of the bathroom. This time at my uncle’s house
where all the extended family had gathered to celebrate. Every time she’d begin to nod off, I’d pepper her with another question. Did you see the big box
behind the tree in the corner? Whose is that? Is it mine? Was that a pitter-patter? Yes, I was real Christmas treat. But eventually, I was the
one slowly nodding off. Sometime after two a.m., my mom finally carried me into the living room where all the other little
kids were already asleep on the floor. She carefully zipped me
up in my sleeping bag and then stumbled blearily
off to bed at the other end of the house. I woke up early the next morning. Christmas morning. Nobody else was awake yet. And that’s when I realized that something didn’t feel right. It slowly dawned on me that
zipped up in my sleeping bag I was lying in a mess. A mess I’d been evidently too tired to even know that I’d made. I did not know what to do. I was desperate for my mom. I knew she could make things right, but I couldn’t shout for her. I’d wake up the entire house. Everyone would find out what I’d done. And I couldn’t go and get her either I wasn’t even sure which
room my parents were staying. Not to mention the distance
between whatever room that was and the mess in my sleeping bag. It felt impossibly far away. So I squeezed my eyes shut and hoped for a Christmas miracle. Whispering please come, please come, please come. And that’s how my mom found me. You see, she’d known that I needed her. She knew that if her
excitable little boy wasn’t at her bedside on Christmas morning, long before dawn, begging her to get up, that something wasn’t right. So she’d left her cozy bed to come and find me in the mess of mine. And before anyone else even woke up, she’d made everything right. At the very beginning of
the book of John, it says: In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God. Jesus was with God in the
beginning because he was God. But sometimes that feels
impossibly far away. And here’s the thing, our world is a mess. Every day we wake up to
headlines of war and terror. We see stories of chaos and corruption. We see human beings treating one other as something far less than human. But the mess, it’s not just out there. If I’m being honest, it’s in here too. And I see it come out in those moments when I’ve said things that
I can’t ever take back. I’ve hurt the people that I care about. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of. Too many times I’ve woken up in the middle of those kinds of messes, so
I don’t just need the Jesus who was with God at the beginning. I need the Jesus who is with me now, the Jesus who left his home to come and find me in the mess of mine, the one who came looking for us because he knew things weren’t right. And he did. He came looking for us. The Word became flesh and
made his dwelling with us. I think all of the anticipation
we feel in this season it’s a reflection of
a much deeper longing. Because every Christmas we look around and we see all the places in
our world and in our lives where we still need Jesus
to come and be with us, to come and make things right. And so we hope and we whisper, please come, please come. Please come. (uplifting piano music) ♪ O Come O Come Emmanuel ♪ ♪ And ransom captive Israel ♪ ♪ That mourns in lonely exile here ♪ ♪ Until the son of God appear ♪ ♪ Rejoice, rejoice ♪ ♪ Emmanuel shall come to thee o Israel ♪ ♪ O come Thou dayspring come and cheer ♪ ♪ Our spirits by Thine advent here ♪ ♪ Disperse the gloomy clouds of night ♪ ♪ And death’s dark shadows put to flight ♪ ♪ Rejoice, rejoice ♪ ♪ Emmanuel shall come to thee o Israel ♪ ♪ Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice ♪ ♪ Emmanuel shall come to thee o Israel ♪ ♪ Come ♪ (audience applauding) – In those days Caesar
Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken
of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their
own town to register. So Joseph also went up from
the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – While they were there,
the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave
birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths
and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest
room available for them. (gentle keyboard music) ♪ The Son is coming ♪ ♪ The King is coming ♪ ♪ The Savior’s coming ♪ ♪ Joseph did you hear the angel say ♪ ♪ The Son is coming ♪ ♪ The King is coming ♪ ♪ The Savior’s coming ♪ ♪ Joseph did you hear the angel say ♪ ♪ The Son is coming ♪ ♪ The King is coming ♪ ♪ The Savior’s coming ♪ ♪ Joseph did you hear the angel say ♪ ♪ Mary did you hear the angel say ♪ ♪ Joseph did you hear the angel say ♪ ♪ Mary did you hear the angel say ♪ ♪ All Is well ♪ ♪ All is well ♪ ♪ Angels and men rejoice ♪ ♪ For tonight ♪ ♪ Darkness fell ♪ ♪ Into the dawn of love’s light ♪ ♪ Sing Alleluia ♪ ♪ Sing Alleluia ♪ ♪ O Holy Night ♪ ♪ The stars are brightly shining ♪ ♪ It is the night of our
dear Savior’s birth ♪ ♪ Long lay the world ♪ ♪ In sin and error pining ♪ ♪ Till He appeared and
the soul felt its worth ♪ ♪ A thrill of hope ♪ ♪ The weary world rejoices ♪ ♪ For yonder breaks ♪ ♪ A new and glorious ♪ ♪ A new and glorious morn ♪ ♪ Fall on your knees ♪ ♪ O hear the angels’ voices ♪ ♪ O night ♪ ♪ divine ♪ ♪ O night when Christ was born ♪ ♪ O night ♪ ♪ Divine ♪ ♪ O night ♪ ♪ divine ♪ ♪ When Christ was born ♪ ♪ O holy night ♪ (audience applauding) – And there were shepherds
living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the
Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to
them do not be afraid. I bring you good news
that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. – Suddenly a great company
of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest
heaven and on Earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests. So they hurried off and
found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in a manger. (audience applauding) (country and western music) ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Yeah, yeah, I do ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you, do you, do you hear ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you see what I see ♪ ♪ Do you see what I see ♪ ♪ Do you know what I know ♪ ♪ Do you know what I know ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you see what I see ♪ ♪ Do you see what I see ♪ ♪ Do you know what I know ♪ ♪ Do you know what I know ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Do you hear what I hear ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Gloria ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ In excelsis deo ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ O come, all ye faithful ♪ ♪ Joyful and triumphant ♪ ♪ O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem ♪ ♪ Come and behold Him ♪ ♪ Born the King of Angels ♪ ♪ O come, let us adore Him ♪ ♪ O come, let us adore Him ♪ ♪ O come, let us adore Him ♪ ♪ Christ the Lord ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ – Would you stand to your feet? And let’s sing this together. Joy to the world, the Lord is come. ♪Joy to the world the Lord is come. ♪ ♪ Let Earth receive her King ♪ ♪ Let every heart prepare Him room ♪ ♪ And heaven and nature sing ♪ ♪ And heaven and nature sing ♪ ♪ And heaven and heaven and nature sing ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on Earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ Glory to God in the highest ♪ ♪ Peace on Earth we have found him ♪ ♪ Let the world know that Christ is come ♪ ♪ O, o, o ♪ ♪ Christ is come ♪ ♪ O o o ♪ ♪ Christ is come ♪ (audience applauding) ♪ O come let us adore Him ♪ ♪ O come let us adore Him ♪ ♪ O come let us adore Him ♪ ♪ Christ the Lord ♪ For you alone. ♪ For you alone are worthy ♪ ♪ For you alone are worthy ♪ ♪ For you alone are worthy ♪ ♪ Christ the Lord ♪ We give you all the glory. ♪ We give you all the glory ♪ ♪ We give you all the glory ♪ ♪ We give you all the glory ♪ ♪ Christ the Lord ♪ ♪ O come let us adore Him ♪ ♪ O come let us adore Him ♪ ♪ O come let us adore Him ♪ ♪ Christ the Lord ♪ (audience applauding) – Would you join me in a Christmas prayer? So Father, once again, our
hearts are filled with gratitude of what you did those many years ago and for what you’re still doing today. So now Father with gratitude
and with thankfulness we invite you here, in
this room, in this place. Would you be with us God? You are welcome here. God, we’re grateful to you, we love you. We pray this prayer of
thanks in Jesus’s name, amen. Amen and Amen. Merry Christmas everybody. Go ahead and grab a seat, would you? If we haven’t met, my name’s Steve and if you’re new to the church, we’re just grateful you’re here. We hope you have a great experience. We’d love it if you came back
and something to know about me is I like to interact
with the congregation, with the church, so I’d
like to ask you a question. Christmas is a time for
giving and so show of hands, how many of you have ever
received a really bad gift. Go ahead, raise your
hands, you go I’ve received a terrible terrible gift. Come on, show me your hands you guys. And you wondered what
were they thinking, right? Yeah. How many of you the person who
gave you that terrible gift is sitting close to you right now? Yeah, right now. (audience laughing) No, don’t raise your hands,
hands down, it’s Christmas. Come on that’s terrible. All right, next question. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Do you think about that? Just maybe a generous gift
or maybe a thoughtful gift. You go this person knows
me, they really know me. Can you think of one? I got together with a
group of guys for dinner and we didn’t know each
other and there was a lull in the conversation, so I thought
I’d better keep this going so I asked that question. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given. Something you didn’t
know is, in my profession as a pastor, many times
people if they don’t know me they feel like they have to
give a real churchy answer. I call it the preacher answer. So if I play golf and I get
teamed up with a group of guys the first several holes
if they don’t know me they’ll be foul-mouthed
and then someone will ask what I do and when they find
it, it changes the whole thing. They’re like, reverend, please you first and thou hittest a fine drive. I’m like old English, really? (audience laughing) That’s the preacher answer. These guys at this dinner
they didn’t know me and sure enough they started on that path. The first guy’s like oh my wife would be the greatest gift of all. I said oh sweet. Next guy was like, oh it’s my kids. I thought oh man, here it
is, the preacher answer. Third guy though shocked us. The third guy said the greatest
gift he’d ever received was a 1978 Star Wars
Death Star Space Station. (audience laughing) We did the same thing you did. We laughed. It kinda shocked us. So we said, you gotta tell
us the story, why that gift? And he said, 1978 Star Wars
had come out that year. He was in first grade and
everyone loved Star Wars. All the kids played Star
Wars at recess, after school they got together and they all acted out the different scenes. They loved Star Wars. That year at Christmas is
when all the action figures starting coming out and so
all the boys and all the kids, they all wanted Star Wars toys. Some of his friends, he said, wanted Luke Skywalker’s
X-Wing, some of them wanted the Millennium Falcon, but not him. That’s not what he wanted. He wanted the Star Wars
Death Star Space Station. He went to his mom, he said, Mom, Mom, I only want one present this year. The Star Wars Death Star Space Station. Mom, what do I want? Repeat after me. The Star Wars Death Star Space Station. Then he described that Christmas morning, he got up and came into the living room and he looked everywhere
for the box that he knew would hold that gift and he didn’t see it. He looked all around, didn’t see it. His mom came out, smile on her face. She walked behind a chair
and she got out a box he hadn’t seen, and she
said, this is for you. So he ripped it open and
sure enough there it was. The 1978 Star Wars Death
Star Space Station. (audience cheering) Kids you need to understand something. In the ’70s this is about as
good as a toy got for a kid. My son saw this and looked at it and said Dad, that is not the Death Star. I said, it is. You just have to use your imagination. (audience laughing) That’s the ’70s. Here’s what he said. He said he got this toy and
all the other kids got theirs. They got the Millennium
Falcon, the X-Wing. He was the only one
who had the Death Star. So when they played he
was kinda the cool kid. Everyone wanted him there,
wanted him to bring that toy and he fit in and he
belonged and he connected and that was great. Like every toy, there’s a
point where he outgrew it. There was a point where he
didn’t know where it went, maybe the attic or maybe the
basement, but he moved on. He said actually this
became the greatest gift later in life, when he became an adult. As an adult, like many of
us do, he reflected back on his childhood and he
realized some things. See his dad, he said, his
dad had left the family when he was little. Just left, his parents had gotten divorced and his dad was never in his life. So his mom was the sole
support of the family. His mom worked two jobs he
said to kinda make ends meet. He said when he thought
about things like dinner, he realized oftentimes at
dinner they would split a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then he said he realized there
were these random moments as a kid where people would just show up and bring food. That’s when he said he realized it. They were poor. He had never realized this
until he became an adult. Then he thought back and he
was like my gosh we were poor and he thought about this gift. This Death Star Space Station. See in 1978 this was a very expensive toy and he realized my mom
didn’t have much money. This was extravagant. She had gone to immense lengths, sacrificially to give
him this generous gift. He said he imagines that
toy is really one example of the many examples of how
his mom gave so much to him, sacrificed for him, that’s
a great gift isn’t it? Some of you have received
great gifts like this. Some of you have received
amazingly generous gifts and some of the times we
can receive a great gift and we don’t fully
appreciate it till later. The core of Christmas and
the core of Christianity this faith is about a gift,
and incredibly generous gift, a sacrificial gift, for you. You read through the pages of The Bible. You read through the New
Testament, the story of Jesus and you’re gonna see the
story of an incredible gift. The book of John is one of those stories of Jesus’s life. It’s written by His close friend, John. In it at the very beginning captures probably the most famous
verse in The Bible, John 3:16. In the time we have
together, I’d just love to unpack this verse to
make sure you understand the incredible gift that
Christmas represents. It starts off and it just simply says, for God so loved. See one of the major questions of humanity throughout all history
is one key question. It’s this, is there a God. Is there a creator behind
all of this, behind us or is it all chance. In this, The Bible is crystal clear. There is a God who created
not just the world, but created you. The Bible describes that you
were not a cosmic accident. You were designed on purpose. God knit you together
is what The Bible says. He loves you and has a purpose for you. He’s put you together. This God is marked by a quality too. Many times if you think there is a God, if you think I think there could be a God, you then have to ask what’s He like? Many people have the perception of God that he’s an angry God
or a judgemental God or maybe that he’s just
waiting to find you doing something wrong. Well this verse and so many others like it describe that God’s actually loving and even more than that, he embodies love. So I want you to do
something with me real quick. I want you to think about
somebody that you love. Could be a parent or a
grandparent or a spouse. Could be a child or a grandchild. Picture somebody you love. Now when you think about
them, how do you feel and what comes to mind? If you’re like me, the
minute I think about the people I love, I feel
this warmth in my heart and a smile comes to my
face and I think about how much I love being with them. The Bible describes that
God feels that way as well. That He is filled with love, and then you gotta ask the question, well who does he love? Who does God love? The Bible says that for
God so loved the world. This is good news. ‘Cause a lot of people
think God only loves the really religious people
or the really good people. And here it is expands
that, it says no, no, no. God so loves the world. That’s good news for you because
you’re inside that world, which means, translation, God loves you. God loves you. The creator of the universe
who made all of this, made you and you and you. He made you and when He
looks at you and watches you he is filled with love for you. Imagine being that person
that you thought of that you love picture them in your mind and just think about how
much do you love them? Here’s the amazing thing,
The Bible describes that as much as you love that
person, and I believe you do, God loves you even more than that. God so loves the world. So loves the world. The Bible passage continues,
He so loves the world that He gave. Here’s the thing about love. Love demands action and demonstration. It’s not enough just to
say you love somebody, you gotta show them you love them, right? So that’s why we give
gifts at Christmastime. It’s why we wanna share
good things with people. It’s why we write poetry and songs. Because once you love
someone, you wanna show it. The Bible says God’s the same way, that God’s inclination
towards us is to give. The Bible actually describes
that every good thing in your life comes from the hand of God. He loves you so much that He gives to you. He gives. That friend that told the
story of the Death Star when he in his adulthood realized
that his family was poor, realized the generosity of this gift, he called his mom up. He said mom, mom, this
gift was so expensive and we didn’t have much, you
could have spent that money on so many other things. Why did you get this? His mom, like any parent
would do, just kinda laughed and smile and said, honey
it’s just what love does. Parents you know this, right? We will do anything for our kids. We love our kids. We wanna be generous to them. We wanna give them gifts that remind them of how lovely they are and
how wonderful they are. The Bible says that God’s
the exact same way, to you. That He loves you so much
that He gives to you. This is where we get to Christmas because there’s a specific
gift at Christmas. This verse says, for
God so loved the world that he gave His only son. Here’s the beauty of Christmas,
if you don’t know it. The Bible describes that
humanity has done some bad things and you don’t have to read
the newspaper very many weeks to see we are capable of doing bad things as an entire race, but
beyond that The Bible says that every one of us has made mistakes, or more specifically,
The Bible calls it sin, that we’ve made choices
that hurt other people, that hurt God. You said words that have hurt somebody. Either you said them to their
face or behind their back. You’ve taken something
that didn’t belong to you whether it was things or it
was attention or affection. We’ve all done this. The Bible describes we
are all equal in this. The Bible describes this is
the great problem for humanity. This is the truth, every
major world religion believes the exact same thing every one will teach that
there’s a God who created us and humanity, because
we’ve done things wrong, has created a gap between us. The great question for
every major world religion is how does humanity get back to God? Every religion says
that to get back to God it’s all on us. We have to figure out a
way to get back to God, either through our good
works or our generosity or through enlightenment, but we have to go through something to somehow get back to God. Even some Christians
have the false belief, it’s not true, that we
have to earn our way back to God as well. The Bible says something
totally different. That God out of love for you and for me decided he didn’t want us
to try and find our way back to Him, He would come to us, which is the Christmas story. That He sent His son Jesus
to come here, to teach us, to tell us about who God really is, to describe what faith actually looks like and what’s the life God
hopes each of us would live. Then beyond that, what
we celebrate at Easter is that He would pay the price too for everything we’ve
done wrong at the cross and then overcome death with the grave. That Jesus does everything. The truth of Christianity
is that He did everything necessary for us to get
back to God, which is why we celebrate at Christmas His life ’cause he’s done everything. Now some of you I know, when
you think about your life if you have a pastor you
don’t know all the things that I’ve done wrong. Many times I’ll talk
to someone, they’ll go I don’t think God could love
somebody as messed up as me. There’s a great verse in the
Bible that I point them to and I point you to it, it simply says there is nothing that could separate you from the love of God. Which means nothing you’ve
said, nothing you’ve done can separate you from God’s great love. He loves you that much. And Jesus cares about us so much. It’s all taken care of. You can trust that. So you go well, Jesus did everything. Is there anything I need to do? There’s just one more thing. It says for God so loved the world, that he gave His only son
Jesus that whoever would believe in him would have eternal life. This one step that you
have to do, it’s on you, it’s about belief and it’s
about receiving this free gift. The idea is this, and I love this, God loves you so much that
He shows you the respect and allows you to choose. Now something I know for me
is I actually don’t like it when people make me do things. I don’t like to be bossed
around, I don’t like to be told what to do. I see this with little kids,
I saw it with my own kids, little kids they wanna do it their way. You’re feeding little kids and they say don’t cut the food for
me, I wanna do it myself. You go great, have at it, make a mess. Even as we get to adults
we go I wanna do it my way. I don’t wanna be told what to do. God knows you so well
and He loves you so much that on this He won’t force
you to do this either. He respects you enough and
He gives you the choice. You can chose. You can say great story, walking away. Or you can say no, no,
actually I wanna be numbered amongst one of those who believes this. I believe this. The Bible says just choose
it, you just receive it. That’s kinda the simplest, clearest way I can describe this to you. Have you had a day like that? Where you just go I’m choosing
this faith, I’m receiving it. ‘Cause the Bible also says
you’re not born into this, you could be born into a family
that practices Christianity but you yourself have to
have a moment to chose this. Have you had a moment like that? In my life, I’ll never
forget the moment for me. In a church service, not all
that different from this one, on the back row, I
sensed for the first time that God was real and even more than that, but He actually loved me. I felt it. And that moment just transformed me. I fumbled through a
prayer on that back row, just by myself and I just
kinda said I stumbling prayer of God, I believe in you,
I think this is true. I believe Jesus was who He said He was. And God I just wanna say
I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I just received grace and that was it. Have you had a moment like that? In my life that changed everything. I sensed God’s presence there. I’ve sensed His guidance
all through my life, sensed Him shaping me and that
day made all the difference. In a moment we’ll be
at the end of this talk and I’m just gonna give a one minute, really give you a chance to
say a prayer for one minute. It’ll just be a moment of silence where you can say a prayer. Now you, like me, may
have done this years ago where you chose this faith
and I just encourage you if you’ve done it, just
pray a prayer of thanks. Go, God thank you for what you did and take this moment for Him. Some of you, you may have had a moment where you’ve received it,
but you know your faith has kinda of just kinda died
and you’ve kinda wandered away I don’t really practice
Christianity, but I wanna come back, I wanna re-engage. You just pray a prayer of re-commitment. Some of you may go hey, I don’t know what I think about this. I don’t believe, but I’m not sure. I’d encourage you pray a very bold prayer and it’s simply this, God if
you are real, show yourself. Show up in some tangible
way that I can go, yep, God’s real. Pray that prayer, see what He does. Be on the look out. But others of you, this
may be the day where you go I actually believe this,
I never received it, but I believe it and you, just like me, just pray a heartfelt prayer to God. You don’t have to have all the words, there’s no formula, just
a heartfelt prayer to God. He’ll hear that. He’ll hear it. So for the next minute, 60
seconds is all it’ll be. All I ask would you bow your heads. And where you’re at,
whatever it is you wanna say, whatever prayer you wanna pray, take time for that with God. So Father, would you
hear every prayer here? God hear the prayers of
gratitude and thanks. God hear the prayers of
the ones I’m coming back to this faith, I’m recommitting myself. God, hear the prayers of
the person who’s trying to figure this out. The bold prayers of God to show up God would you do just that. Would you show up for
them in a tangible way, in a way that you would know you’re real and you’re good and you love them? Show up in a way God
that it’s unmistakable. And then God would you hear
the prayers of the person who’s choosing today to believe? God hear their prayer. Let them know you heard it. God show up in their life, guide them from this today forward. Grow them up in this faith. God use them for your
purposes in the world. God let them know that they’re
a beloved child of yours. God on this Christmas, we’re grateful. We’re grateful that in
the mess that we are you’d reach out of heaven
and you would set in motion your great effort to save humanity. God we’re grateful. So God we said this prayer
to you in your son’s name. Amen, amen, amen. Real quick, if you prayed that prayer you go I received grace,
I chose to believe today, can I give you two things? One I highly recommend you get a bible. A bible you can understand. And just read a page or two a day. Just set that about and see
if God will work in you. I think He will. If you don’t have a bible,
we’ve got one for you. We’d love to just give you a gift. Right outside these
doors are guest central. If you just stop by there and
go hey, I could use a bible. We’d love to give you one. Second, I’d encourage you find a church. A church that teaches The
Bible, a church where you find that you belong and you
go this feels like home. If it’s our church, great. If it’s another one, just
find one that you love and then just make it
your practice to be there, spend an hour a week there and see if you invest an hour
there and then a page a day see how God’s gonna shape
you and grow your faith. I think God’ll do great things with you. Now our church has one final
tradition on Christmas Eve. We sing one last carol
and it’s Silent Night, and we sing this carol
and we love this song, but it’s more than that for our church. See a lot of us when we get to Christmas we have all the good intentions
to tell those we love how much we care about
them, but with the busyness of the holidays with all
the parties and presents a lot of times it just flies
by and I didn’t get the chance to tell them I love them. So we set this song
aside for that purpose, that you with the friends
you’re with and your family that you just tell them how
much you care about them, that you give them high
fives or fist bumps or hugs. Whatever it is. As well, we’d encourage
you, the room’s yours. So if you have friends or
family on the other side of the room, just excuse
yourself out of the aisle. Feel free to walk about, it’s fine. I’d like to expand our tradition
just a little this year. We’re talking about our church
becoming one big family. I’d encourage you after
have to tell your friends and family how much you care about them, turn to the people around you. Just wish them a Merry Christmas and shake their hand. Tell them how glad that
you are they’re here. We’re gonna do three verses of the song. So I tell you the first note, kinda get up and express at best you
can, those you will, but the third verse we’re
gonna change a little bit, do something, we’ll
tell you more about it, but why don’t you just stand up and let’s sing Silent Night together. Can we? Matt would you lead us? ♪ Silent night, holy night ♪ ♪ All is calm, all is bright ♪ ♪ Round yon virgin, mother and child ♪ ♪ Holy infant so tender and mild ♪ ♪ Sleep in heavenly peace ♪ ♪ Sleep in heavenly peace ♪ ♪ Silent night, holy night ♪ ♪ Shepherds quake at the sight ♪ ♪ Glories stream from heaven afar ♪ ♪ Heavenly hosts sing alleluia ♪ ♪ Christ the Savior is born ♪ ♪ Christ the Savior is born ♪ – For this third and
final verse, we wanna do something a little bit different. If you’d take out your phone we began the service by
hearing the scripture verse that when Jesus came at Christmas the light had come into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Would you turn the light on your phone on and let’s sing this last verse together. ♪ Silent night, holy night ♪ ♪ Son of God, love’s pure light ♪ ♪ Radiant beams from Thy holy face ♪ ♪ With the dawn of redeeming grace ♪ ♪ Jesus Lord at Thy birth, ♪ ♪ Jesus Lord at Thy birth ♪ (audience applauding) – Well I wanna thank you so much for celebrating Christmas with us. Thanks for joining us and we hope you have a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas everybody. Have a great night. Blessings. (audience applauding) (soft jazz music)

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