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Advent| Week One | Hope

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CHRISTMAS AT THE MOVIES | A Christmas Carol

Read | 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

I love this Advent season, I love Thanksgiving and being together with family. I love the lead up to Christmas with decorations, lights, good food, hot chocolate and I even love Christmas shopping. For many people it is easy to be hopeful in this Christmas season, but for others it is difficult to be hopeful at any time of the year. It totally depends on your circumstances. Hope is a funny thing, it is our expectation of something or our desire for something to happen. Hope can come and go pretty easily.

A year ago my family and I had been waiting for 3 years for our son Firaol to come home from Ethiopia, and in November we were told that it would not be happening. Things felt pretty hopeless at this time last year. However, by spring it began to look like we would be able to complete our adoption and hope began to build again.

This week we’re taking a look at the movie A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge seems to be someone who doesn’t have a lot of hope in his life. He’s selfish and has no real personal connections. His old business partner has died, he doesn’t have any friends.  The guy who works for him isn’t really a friend and still treats Scrooge better than he is treated by him. But once Scrooge is visited by the Christmas Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future he realizes that he needs to make some changes in his life. He needs to let hope into his life and then spread it into the lives of others. At the end of the movie no one can even recognizes Ebenezer Scrooge because he is such a different person. He has a sense of hope.

Jesus gives us this same hope. We may feel like hope can come and go pretty easily, but that’s only if we take our eyes off of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us we should fix our eyes on Jesus not on the circumstances around us. Jesus can give us hope here on earth but also into the future when we will spend eternity in heaven. If we look around to the stuff here on earth, we can lose hope really fast. If we look to money there might be a time when it runs out, if we look to a friend there might be a time they aren’t there for us and  if we look to our health what happens when it fails. The only way we can truly have hope is by looking to Jesus and the hope that he gives us. I think that’s why it can seem a little easier to have hope during this advent season, because we are looking to Jesus coming into this world and bringing us the “thrill of hope” in this holiday season.

This year is full of hope for my family, our son has been home for 6 months and we are enjoying every bit of all new traditions for him and our family, first thanksgivings, cutting Christmas trees, decorating, making a Christmas list, and experiencing advent. Praying your family experiences the hope that comes from Jesus this Christmas Season.

Reflect | What are the temporary places you tend to look for Hope?

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Halloween- love it or hate it?

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Quick Question for you.

Do you love Halloween or hate Halloween?

Halloween is one of the most polarizing holidays, people either totally love Halloween or absolutely hate it. In my family growing up we didn’t really get that into it, but my siblings and I always went trick or treating. When my family lived in rural Washington we had to go by car and after driving miles and miles we usually ended up with about 7 pieces of candy in our bags. When we moved to Chicago my mom put us down for naps on Saturday afternoon because we would be out late trick or treating that night. My brother and I did not sleep, but looked out the window to see if all the neighborhood kids trick or treating at 2:00pm in the afternoon. However, my favorite trick or treating memories have been in the last 5 years. My kids love going to a neighborhood where there is a family that has movies playing on their garage, tons of decorations, hot cider, and big candy bars. There’s also a cul-de-sac where all the neighbors sit out in the middle of the street with a firepit, queso, chips, and tons of candy. They’d ask you to take a seat and join them. It was awesome, and to be honest I was jealous.

Two years ago our family decided to do something similar at our house. We dress up in costumes, bring out our firepit, smores, hot cider, big candy bars, and invite our neighbors to have a seat while their kids hit up the whole cul-de-sac for candy. It’s so much fun for us to meet all our neighbors (on Halloween they all come to your house, it’s a Reach Out Pastor’s dream) and our kids love being the place where everyone stops and hangs out.

Could you do something like this for Halloween? Here’s a couple of ideas I give people for different levels of involvement, there’s something here for everyone if you love Halloween or aren’t really a fan.

Level 1: Turn on your front light, buy some candy, and hand out candy when people ring your doorbell. (Be really nice and introduce yourself if it seems appropriate)


Level 2: All of the above, but buy full size candy bars (you’ll be the hero of the neighborhood), wear a costume, introduce yourself to everyone, and find out if they live right near you.


Level 3: Set up a Halloween experience in your driveway. Build a fire, setup chairs, make smores, serve hot chocolate, give away big candy bars, build a haunted house in your garage, bob for apples, wear a costume, anything else you can think of the sky’s the limit.

One other thought about Halloween. When your kids are done trick or treating, send them out again Trick or Canning. Grab the list of Mountain of Mercy items and send it with your kids, they can explain to the neighbors they are collecting food for thanksgiving meals and ask people if they have any of the items on the list. They can put them in their bags and bring home a bag full of cans for Mountains of Mercy.

Whether you love it or hate it, take advantage of the one night a year all your neighbors will want to come and visit your house.

Have Fun!!!!

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