Everything you need to know about the Christmas story can be learned by looking at that stable.
Sometimes it feels like life is a game of paintball. You can’t slow down. You can’t stand still for too long - otherwise you’ll be leaving with bruises.
It feels like a failure to give up on something - to stop. But it’s quite the opposite I think.
Because no time comes for free. Time is only something we get when we sacrifice stuff.
You can’t rest and make a three-tiered, world-conquering pavlova at the same time. You can’t watch a movie with your family and check your emails while you do it. That’s not how it works.
So now that we’ve hit the middle video in our Christmas Series, it’s perhaps fitting that this one is all about slowing down - maybe even stopping.
I hope this Christmas you say no to the right things… so that you can say yes to what really matters.
Because in the midst of giving birth to the saviour of the world, without adequate accomodation and with lots of unexpected visitors… Mary managed to stop and treasure all these experiences up in her heart.
In this week’s video, Rachel takes you deeper into Mary’s story and encourages you to stop, just for a second… and breathe.
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It’s a weird way to start a video. It’s probably not what you want to be viewing and it’s certainly not very Christmassy.
But you know I don’t think the first Christmas was all that festive either.
I think it was cold and dark and a bit unpleasant at times. I think it involved plenty of imperfect people whose lives would not make good Christmas letters.
I’ve been surprised this year by just how out of favour shepherds were in Jesus’ time. I find it incredible that they were the first real witnesses to his birth. The wise men turned up late - but the outcast shepherds came straight away.
And maybe that says something about how God doesn’t elevate people in the same way we do.
Money, status and power all tend to be good signs of importance to us. But that’s not the case with God. He is distinctly underwhelmed with our possessions - instead he looks at our hearts.
And so while this video starts off a little unconventional, I hope you can stick with it.
Because God just might use it to tell you something about how important you are to Him - before you even start trying to impress anyone…
That’s my prayer today.
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There are questions that creep into my mind every year when December starts. Will I give good enough presents? Will I make people happy? Will my house look festive enough? Will I have enough fun?
Are other people doing it better than me?
Christmas is a time of comparison I think. We all do variations of the same thing while secretly hoping that our experience is at least a little above average
You just know when you get back to normal life that people will ask you… How was your Christmas?
And so now is the time where we stress and strain and hope that we can bring about a positive answer to that question.
I hope you find that positive answer over the next month.
But then there are some Christmases where it’s just not possible to have anything close to a great time. Some heartaches can’t be solved with turkey and paper crowns.
And so this is a video for anyone who has ever been, or will ever go through a Christmas like that. This is a video for people who feel like the Awkward Donkey.
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New technology goes through a cycle in my mind, something like this...
- It's talked about conceptually and I don't believe it will happen.
- It actually happens and I don't really like it.
- I reluctantly start to use it.
- I can't easily live without it
I don't think I'm alone in this. I bet many people felt it with mobile phones, and with personal computers and it's probably happening today with some technology that I'm not far-sighted enough to predict will become the next big thing.
Certainly, this process happened with the internet. It became part of our lives over time. I communicate through the internet, I store things on it... I need it.
But I worry that when I look online - I don't see beauty of the church. There are some brilliant, inspiring counter examples... but mostly there's just silence.
This internet thing is a massive part of my life but to be honest I mostly use it passively - watching, reading, learning but rarely doing or sharing anything of value.
I think we all know deep down that we can use this platform to create, to communicate, to reach people we couldn't otherwise. But I'm not sure we know what to do about that.
Why did we stop building when the internet came along?
I don't believe it's because we don't care.
With God in Real Life, we want to build a new place - where people can go and catch a glimpse of God.
Like when you walk into a cathedral and you just sense something divine about the place. I want that to happen to people on the internet.
It's ambitious, maybe, but I think it's fair to say that more miraculous things have happened than that.
If you want to be part of this, even in just a tiny way, an excellent first step is to sign up to our email list...
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For weeks I've had this poem in my head... it talks about hope as this little bird that perches in our souls.
I've learnt it off by heart - not deliberately but just because I've read it so much. It's strange because I don't even really like poetry.
I just like the thought, that hope is like a little bird that's always somewhere nearby. So we just had to make a video about it.
And that opportunity came when we took a trip to Skomer Island in South Wales... during puffin season. I hope you enjoy this one. My advice would be to watch it a few times over to really get it.
The verse it makes me think of is from Psalm 62 (verse 5)
Yes my soul find rest in God
My hope comes from him.
I like to think that hope, the little bird, is sent to us by God - a beautiful little gift. I hope you find it today.
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Sarah from God in real life tells us why the table flipping that Jesus did in the temple wasn't the most important thing that happened that day.
What comes after is where the true meaning of the story comes out.
Watch it yourself above and if you haven't already, join our mailing list below.
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It's pretty clear from watching the above video that we don't exactly know what love is...
When we asked people to define love, some talk about the love they share with their wife, others go big and talk about world unity. If there was a simple definition, everyone would have said roughly the same thing.
The question it really asks is how do we love people well when we're not even sure exactly what the definition of love is.
And that's the question we want to leave with you - maybe it's one to ask your friend, or your church small group or even a whole congregation.
The video ends with this verse from 1 John...
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." (1 John 4:7)
And so I hope that as you try and work out what love is, you also catch a glimpse of God.
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Today Jon steps into the God in real life confession booth to talk about the weird stuff he believes in...
And that's all we really want to say about this one. You'll have to play it to really get to grips with it.
Next time we'll invite Sarah, the God in Real Life trustee, into the confession booth to see what she has to say.
Add your thoughts in the comments...