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Tell Yourself A New Story

Advent - the season that highlights the best in each of us. The season that diminishes all our darkness and opens us up to the possibilities of new life in Christ, a new way of looking at ourselves, and a new way of creating new narratives for ourselves. Advent, the season that reminds us of the powerful mystery of being human and the eternal mystery of the God who dared to become human. Advent, the season that provides us with more than enough reason to sing again, to tell ourselves a new story. Not because the old familiar stories we tell ourselves aren’t doing the trick but because we chance upon a deeper understanding of our life in Christ.

I love Advent, the season of waiting, the fearless anticipation, silent wandering, intentional wondering, and the welcoming arms and heart ready to hold the Mighty One who cannot defend himself. Advent, if you like, provides us with a reason to tell ourselves a new story - that you can also be redeemed, that God has favored you, that you can be thankful, that you are God’s masterpiece, that God cares about you and others.

This past Sunday, we were blessed to have a visitor worship with us. It was his first visit to Christ Church, although he has worshipped with us online. We had a little chat after worship but after shaking hands and visiting with other parishioners, I saw our visitor standing alone by the Angel Tree.

I walked over to him and re-engaged him in a conversation, a process where we could both tell ourselves new stories. The visitor surprised me with his story; he was surprised to have found an Angel Tree here at Christ Church and was attracted to it because the Angel Tree reminded him of his own story.

His parents divorced when he was a kid and the first Christmas after the divorce was one which brought a lot of worry. He wasn’t sure whether he was going to get any Christmas gifts. But through the generosity of the Angel Tree, he received as many as thirty-two gifts that Christmas. This is his new story - I was once a beneficiary of the Angel Tree and I want to give back. I want to make another kid’s Christmas as beautiful and fulfilling as mine at a time when I thought I wouldn't get any gifts. What a loving tribute to this ministry!!

Sometimes, we can never tell what other people would tell us. Sometimes, you can never tell the extent to which people can sing when given some music. Sometimes, you can never tell what is buried within the hearts of others, for people only need an opportunity to tell themselves a new story.

What new story can you tell yourself? Who knows what you can do if you tell yourself a different story?

When I was a kid, I learned a song that became one of my favorite Sunday School songs:

Running over,

Running over,

My cup’s filled and running over.

Since the Lord saved me, I’m as happy as can be,

My cup’s filled and running over.

I am not exactly sure why it was my favorite song but I think something about the abundance of God, something about the overflowing goodness of God, something about my cup being inadequate to contain God was so telling. I didn’t have any problem celebrating my overflowing cup because of the newness made possible by being saved - the joy of being saved was more than enough for me.

Our tragedy is that there’s always the temptation to only tell ourselves a new story when we seem to be stuck in an abyss of loss, or when we feel that life isn’t being fair to us.

But what if our cup is filled and running over? What if we are as happy as can be? Can we yet tell a new story about ourselves? Can we tell a new story about our relationship with God? Can we tell a new story that reinforces our faith in God?

Each season - especially the season of Advent and Christmas - provides us with an incredible opportunity to rearrange the deck, if you will. Seasons like Advent open the door for us to embrace the possibility of being reborn, to tell ourselves a new story about God’s goodness and mercy towards us and others, and to be happy as we can be because God chose to honor our humanity with God’s own self.

Our visitor’s story highlights the wonderful, life-transforming ministry that goes on here at Christ Church because of your generosity. We deepen ourselves in the lives of others, bringing more than Christmas joy to many people. Not because we have more than enough, but because we believe that each of us can tell ourselves a new story should we be provided with a reason.

As God’s masterpiece, it is my prayer that you will never fail to tell yourself a new story - you have more than enough reason to do so.



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