New Hope Notes
An Everyday Christmas
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, Pastor Jon Burgess
PASTOR JON: So glad that you're here with us tonight and those joining us online. Doesn't it feel good to bring God adoration at Christmastime? Doesn't it feel good to stop everything and remember what we're celebrating here?
Many times the real meaning of Christmas almost has to interrupt the secular meaning of Christmas; sometimes, God wants to get our attention in ways that we don’t expect!
Just a couple of days ago my wife Cyndi and I were rearranging our couches because we had to make room for the Christmas presents—we like to gather around on Christmas morning and open all the gifts. We hadn’t moved the couches since last year at this time. As we started moving them, all of a sudden, lo and behold, we saw everything that had fallen through the cracks of the couches for an entire year’s accumulation! It was rather disgusting—half-eaten fries, missing remote controls, some action figures, and lots of LEGO pieces.
We had one of two choices: (1) leave the couches where they were or (2) continue to move them to make room for the presents. As we were sweeping up the mess it was as if the Lord was saying, “This is what Christmas is about. Jesus is used to coming to dirty things. He was born in a dirty manger. He was born in a dirty world, and He came to remove our dirt so that at Christmastime we would celebrate God coming to earth.”
I believe that over the process of this service, God will begin to move some furniture around in our souls and reveal places where perhaps things may have fallen through the cracks in our faith that He wants to clean up and remove—that’s the reason He came to earth in the first place!
If you want to make room for the Lord’s presence, you must answer as Mary did when He interrupted her life. Luke 1:38 NIV: “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered, ‘May it be to me as you have said.’” In other words, “Lord, I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense, but if you can use someone like me, a dirty person to do something holy and great in this world, then I welcome you to have your way in my life.”
God doesn’t run from our mess; He runs into it and that’s what we celebrate at Christmas. My hope is that we walk out of this service not on our own purity or holiness, but in the holiness and purity of coming clean in the presence of the King.
PASTOR WAYNE: Christmas! Here are some sobering thoughts: Perhaps this Christmas is not about you! Christmas may be about somebody else—giving a gift of kindness, or letting go of something, or allowing God to do what He wants to do through you!
PASTOR JON: We are celebrating An Everyday Christmas because we believe the message of Christmas is that Christ came to invade our everyday routines. Maybe we can take Christmas one step further beyond the festivities, lights and traditions, and truly find out what Christmas is all about—dig a little deeper and celebrate why Jesus came for us in the first place.
The shepherds said it was a quiet calm night, the night Christ came. They had never seen a star so bright when they heard the light speak to them. The shepherds had marched to Bethlehem in the middle of a cold night to find Jesus wrapped in cloth in a little barn.
What a sight it must have been to see God's only Son so powerful yet so tiny, sent from above! The radiance of the Lord's glory was said to have surrounded them. How wonderful it must have been to be in the presence of a power so great, so vast! He was here to save us, and by the time He had to leave, we knew He'd be back. There were so many things He taught us just from His presence.
So Christmas, I say, is a time to celebrate when a child so powerful, unlike no other, became flesh to live with us. There is no greater love than the love that we receive from Him. We didn't need to search for Him because He came down to us with His arms wide open and died for us. He never fails to protect and encourage us. That’s the reason we celebrate Jesus—the one we owe all to who sits on the throne and will return for us on that Great Day!
PASTOR WAYNE: I met a Muslim student named Sarraj at our Bible College in Eugene, Oregon. I ask him, “Sarraj, how did you with a Muslim name end up in our Bible College?” He told me his parents are both Muslims, that his dad is in prison for stabbing his mother seven times, but she’s okay now. He said, “In my depth of sorrow with no one to look to, God found me.” And I thought that’s so cool because usually we say, we found Jesus. He said, “Jesus found me when I was wallowing in the depths of despair.”
I met another student named Jerry at lunch in the cafeteria. He said his dad was a homeless man and his mom got pregnant. She was also homeless, on drugs, and went to prison for dealing drugs. Later, his dad got a very tiny apartment and Jerry moved back with him; in the meantime, his dad had become a Christian and took Jerry to church with him. A very wealthy lady from the church was moving to Texas, and she said that God told her to give his dad her 5-bedroom house—that’s the favor of God! Since Jerry’s dad had been homeless for so many years, he knows the pain of being homeless, so he turned the three bedrooms downstairs to house the homeless—this has become his dad’s ministry! Jerry said he is now in Bible College to learn more about the One who does miracles and changes homeless people into ministers. I thought that is just so amazing. I was speechless and said, “Isn’t it neat how God can even turn crises into a gift?”
The neat thing is that Jesus goes to the broken parts of our lives and mends it together. Often our greatest ministry comes from our greatest pain! Some of you have come from broken homes—He’ll use that!
I grew up in a very tough home life. My dad and mom had a rough divorce and us four kids went to live with our mom (a single mom) in Palolo Valley. My mom was a waitress at the Flamingo restaurant and she tried to support us (four kids) on her tips. I remember her in her pink uniform sleeping on the couch when she came home at 1 a.m. I would get up in the morning to go to school and say, “Mom I need lunch money,” and she’d reach into her pocket and give me a handful of quarters and say, “Give this to your brothers and your sister, that’s your lunch,” and she’d fall back asleep—so exhausted!
We were then taken from our mom because she couldn’t afford to raise us on her tips anymore and we went to live with our dad. Dad was a master sergeant in the Army and was extremely strict. He married a lady who was in the Army as well, so both of them were like drill sergeants. You don’t want to grow up with two drill sergeants. They were extremely strict.
Finally, we couldn’t handle it anymore and one by one the four of us tried to go back to our mother; instead, one of my brothers went to Kamehameha Schools and boarded there; my other brother got kicked out of school; my sister went back to Kaimuki, and I went to a boarding school.
One day when I was in ministry, a person came to me and said, “Wayne (after hearing about my background), if you could change your upbringing, would you because it was so terrible?” At first I was going to say, “Oh, absolutely!” and stopped myself and thought, “No, I don’t think I would.”
He said, “Why?” I said, “Because you know, God knew the background I would have, and maybe He already saw what my future would be—the tough decisions that I’d have to make, the sufferings I would have to go through, the sacrifices I would have to make, and He’d look at that and say, “That’s my calling for you, Wayne. And the only way that I can train you for your ministry is to allow the brokenness to take place because out of the broken pieces of your life will come your ministry!”
If God knew that I could be trained for this ministry at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or UCLA, He would have sent me there. But maybe for some reason, God was saying, “In the broken times of your life, I’m going to meet you there. When you think you’re all alone, you’ll find out you’re not. And when you think it’s the end, it’s really just the beginning. I’m going to take all the broken shards of your life and I will put it back together and your greatest ministry will come out of the broken pains of your life. You’ll understand then, but not now! You’ll cry out for Me, but it’s okay because I’ll listen and I’ll hear you, and that’s where you’ll find Me. That will be the greatest gift you can ever receive—the Presence of Christ!”
Some of you may be in that place right now. You’re going through some stuff with your family, and wondering why is this crisis or setback going on? Maybe God is trying to get your attention. And if you’ll be willing to give Him the broken pieces of your life, He’ll glue them all together and present to you a beautiful picture of your future. Don’t ever think you’re alone. You’re not. He’s doing something very special in you!
Some of you may have come with broken hearts or broken dreams. If you’ve never received Christ before, would you receive Him now? Would you let Him take your broken heart and broken dreams because He’s a master at giving you a new heart and new dreams? But He can’t do that unless you’re willing to give Him your heart—He can’t repair that which is not in His hands.
If you were to take a bar of steel and make it into nails, that bar of steel will be worth about a hundred dollars. But if you put all the nails back into the bar of steel and make cutlery or knife blades (Ginsu knives), that bar of steel will now be worth about $2,000. Put all the knives back into the bar of steel, and make fine Swiss watch springs and that bar of steel will now be worth over $33 million. Is it from the same bar of steel? It just depends on what you invest it in.
Your heart might be broken or wounded—what will you do with it? You can get angry at the world, or you can put it into God’s hands and invest it in His care. When you do, everything will change. Maybe, that’s what Christmas should be for you this year!