Here’s a little piece of advice: Never go to the movies with me. For starters, I’m quite the talker. I fully engage in the experience—out loud. I will eat your Twizzlers. I’ll get really engrossed in the film and drink from your Diet Coke. Then (because I’ve now slurped down your drink, as well as my own) I will need to go to the bathroom. Yes, I will embarrass you. Also, I will bring my own blanket, like I’m a toddler. But most importantly– I am an ugly crier. And when I cry, it’s not quiet. I make a scene.
You’ve been warned.
In a few short days, my entire family (brothers+ sisters+ nieces+ nephews + spouses + kids and maybe a few pets) will all descend upon an undisclosed theatre in Texas to watch the much anticipated Star Wars—The Force Awakens. My brother and I have been awaiting this day since my Barbie stole his Millennial Falcon circa 1980 something. If you think I’m bad to sit next to in a theatre, then you should try being in one with about 25 Jordan’s. It’s a whole thing. You’d ask for a refund.
May the Force be with you!
The primary reason I love movies, aside from the snacks, naturally, is that I love a great story. Whether it’s a silly story about a girl who falls in love with a guy, but thinks he is engaged but of course they end up together (Thank you Hallmark Channel and Lifetime movies) or ones that display incredible valor like Zero Dark Thirty. Most of all, I love stories that tap into the deepest longing of the human heart for redemption.
You know the ones, when all hope hinges on sacrificial love.
Whether it is Frodo facing down evil in Lord of the Rings, or Aslan dying in the place of Edmund in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, or Katniss volunteering to die in place of her sister in The Hunger Games, I’m a crying mess the minute someone stands up to take the place of another. Though the dramas may differ, the heart of the matter is the same: sacrificial love willing to do whatever it takes to save the beloved.
Speaking of Star Wars, there’s a reason we are captivated by a story of a rebel alliance delving a fatal blow to the evil Empire, that’s because the reality of darkness and light, good vs. evil are themes we recognize as true of our own story and we long for deliverance.
Jesus is that Deliverer!
I love these stories, because they are little glimpses of the Greatest Story— the sacrificial love of God to rescue His beloved.
“The gospel is the ultimate story that shows victory coming out of defeat, strength coming out of weakness, life coming out of death, rescue from abandonment. And because it is a true story, it gives us hope because we know that life is really like that. It can be your story as well. God made you to love Him supremely, but He lost you. He returned to get you back, but it took the cross to do it. He absorbed your darkness so that one day you can finally and dazzlingly become your true self and take your seat at His eternal feast.” —Tim Keller
Sacrificial love is the gift we celebrate at Christmas. The King left his throne to rescue the Bride— sound familiar? Oh, that’s right, that’s the storyline we all gravitate to because it’s written upon our hearts.
Before God spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1), He knew we would need a Redeemer (Ephesians 1). God the Father knew that Redeemer would be His “Only Begotten Son.” (John 1) Why? Because we’re captive to a cruel enemy and a price had to be paid to set us free. The price was death. Therefore, in “the fullness of time.” (Galatians 4:4-7) Jesus, the Son of God, stepped into our mess in order to restore us to God the Father.
Let’s not miss this fact… He didn’t have to do it. God was not on the “hook” to rescue us from the darkness and emptiness of a life separated from Him…
“The Christmas story is history’s ultimate rescue mission. Jesus came to Earth to set us free from the sin that enslaves us.” —Rick Warren
Let that truth sit and marinate for a little bit. You are part of the greatest story of all because this one is truth and awakens us to life. I don’t know what craziness this day holds for you or what pain you carry this season, but I do know one thing for sure— Jesus said that you were worth dying for! This is not a fairy tale, this is the greatest message of all time. And the beautiful reality is that this story can transform everything about us—if we step into it. The Christmas story is not just information we believe, but a reality we experience. The Christmas story is not just a tale we learn about Shepherds, Wise Men and a baby in a manger—Oh-no, the Christmas story is one we engage with and it becomes our story.
We experience the story by receiving the gift of grace, by worshiping with the Wise Men, by proclaiming the good news with the Shepherds, and by treasuring Him with Mary. As we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, I pray you fully experience the redemption story— soak in the sacrificial love whereby God moved heaven and earth to rescue you. So as you and millions of others across the globe flock to the theaters to watch a Rebel Force defeat an Evil Empire this weekend, don’t forget to stop and marvel at the fact that the King of Glory already defeated darkness to set you free and give you life!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15
May Grace Be With You,
Marian Jordan Ellis