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Advent Devotion "SENT" – Day 3

  • Create by: Hungsu Lim

    [Advent Devotion] Day 3 “Flip the Script”

    “Just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20 NRSV)

    One of the things I love to do this time of year is watch classic Christmas movies.

    In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch’s heart is three sizes too small; so he sneaks into Who-ville in the middle of the night and steals all the Christmas presents—not only the presents but also the decorations, the trees, and the roast beast. The next morning Who-ville awakens to find that everything representing Christmas is gone.

    In A Christmas Story, young Ralphie has been dreaming of one thing alone: a Red Ryder BB gun. He wakes up on Christmas morning and unwraps two presents, only to discover socks and a pink bunny costume. And he’s even forced to put on the costume.

    In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey’s Christmas is even worse. After a major financial disaster at the building and loan he manages, he thinks his family would be better off without him. So he goes to the edge of town to jump off a bridge. He’s ready to end it all and wishes he was never born, but then an angel grants his wish and shows him what life what would have been like without him. He realizes the impact he had on others and wants to return to his life, but he’s afraid it may be too late.

    As I recount each plot, we can grin and even feel a sense of excitement because we know that’s not how the story ends. We know the ending, and so we anticipate what is coming next. In each movie, the writers flip the script just when we can’t take it anymore. The Grinch hears the Whos singing, his heart begins to grow, and Christmas is restored. Ralphie’s dad motions him toward one more gift behind the tree—one even mom doesn’t know about—and he unwraps the Red Ryder BB gun. The whole town shows up at George Bailey’s home with money to pay the debt he owes, showing that they believe in him. A bell rings, and an angel gets his wings. Every good Christmas movie has the element of some deep longing that is not only met but also exceeded. Why? Because the first Christmas story is full of such moments. God is in the business of flipping scripts that seemed doomed for despair.

    Joseph’s dreams are crushed when he learns that his fiancée, Mary, is pregnant and the child is not his. All his plans come crashing to the ground. Joseph plans to divorce her quietly and pick up the pieces of his life. Then God flips the script.

    In a dream an angel tells Joseph that the child is from God and that he will be the one who saves his people from their sins. Didn’t see that coming. So, when all the gifts are stolen (even the tree and the roast beast); when the gifts are opened and you are left wearing a bunny suit; when you’ve lost your business, your family, and your history—remember that God is waiting to speak to you in a dream and reconcile the things that are broken, making them whole again. It’s what God does. God reconciles us and then sends us into his story to help reconcile others.

    PRAYER: God, when everything seems headed for disaster, remind me that you are with me and can make a way when I can’t. Give me trust, hope, and anticipation of the good you can make of my messes. Amen.

    (from “SENT: Devotion” Week 1 – Jesus Reconciles by Jacob Armstrong)


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