Pastor Gene brings our Christmas Eve message as we see how sometimes what we want isn't exactly what we need.
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good evening i got that right i practiced that the most it's always morning when i see you guys good evening merry christmas oh you can do better than that merry christmas somebody got to open a present early over there very excited if you're new here among us my name is gene i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and i wonder do you guys have christmas traditions maybe it's coming here but maybe you got to open a present early when i was a kid that was a really big thing because i went to church a lot as a kid my dad he was the organist and choir director and my whole family was in the choir so we had midnight mass it was late then we got up in the morning and we went to church again so if you got dragged here to church today i don't want to hear it i will get you out of here in time for dinner in naples hope you made reservations but you'll be just fine christmas traditions we have them don't we maybe it's food um see now i grew up in new york where we have real food it's really really good kind of an italian-ish hungarian family so it's kind of a blend of really really really good food and my favorite was pizzelle i know you know what that is the new yorker's in the room pizzelle it's delicious kind of like a really thin waffle pastry type thing but it's sweet and it's made in a pizza maker too if you're doing it right they look like little snowflakes kind of ish and they have powdered sugar on them delicious pro tip do not breathe in while you're eating it will ruin at least five minutes of your life that's not a good thing if you've had it and done that you know what i'm talking about what about movies sometimes it just doesn't feel like it's christmas until we've seen certain movies like it's a wonderful life christmas story i saw the christmas carol there's a million versions of it i know you have the original but i saw the muppets one recently and it's not as good as i remembered it the songs were terrible terrible stick to the disney one it's kind of much better the cartoon they get you in and out of there in about 20 minutes right the christmas story we've all seen that right just like no there's like no response on this this joke is not going to be funny christmas story i'll summarize it for you and i'll spoil it spoiler alert here it's about a kid named ralphie ralphie wants the red rider bb gun it's really important to him so important that he lets everybody know his parents he decides to write a report for his teacher about it thinking that'll get him one and even the mall santa claus of course got to get there to see him but he's met with the same answer each time you'll shoot your eye out kid very disappointing for ralphie gets to christmas morning he has to wear a weird pink bunny suit that his aunt gave him his dad makes fun of him says he looks like a pink nightmare he wears it anyway don't worry we'll get you out of that soon but he doesn't get his bb gun it's a surprise they hide it from him and he finally gets the red rider bb gun and goes outside with it and right away he almost shoots his eye out so we're gonna learn something sometimes getting what we want is not always good for us a lesson that we'll learn today we've been looking at the original christmas story or all the things leading up to it anyway in a series we've been doing is a church called the rest of the story and this is where we're looking at the whole bible we'll be done in two years but we're looking at the whole thing especially all the parts that the people don't normally take a look at a lot of stories even long time christians are like huh that's in there well as a part of that we just finished up wrapping up the life and writings of king solomon and we saw a lot of stuff about him that was interesting a lot of people didn't know he got a lot of what he wanted but it wasn't necessarily very good for him in fact led to a lot of trouble for him and the entire kingdom today we celebrate what we need a truly great king our king jesus that's what it's all about now if we go back a little bit to the first king of israel saul just before they get saul in 1st samuel they demand a king there is no king in israel god is king they have what they need they have all that they need but still we want a king they keep asking for a king now the prophet samuel comes on the scene and he says no so he's kind of like the teacher or ralphie's parents or the mall santa claus you'll shoot your eye out kids and he warns them you don't want to do this the king is going to be bad for you god is enough but they keep persisting we want a king so god says fine i'll give you what you want even though you have what you need god gave it to him and after a while letting them maybe learn their lesson he promises something so later we get a prophecy about what's to come in the future after they suffer their punishment they're going to get god as a king emmanuel god with us it's prophesied in isaiah chapter 9 starting at verse 6. for a child is born to us a son is given to us the government will rest on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor mighty god everlasting father prince of peace his government and its peace will never end he will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor david for all eternity the passionate commitment of the lord of heaven's armies will make this happen then around 300 ish years later it comes true we get the story that most of us all know the birth of the messiah king jesus humble beginnings but born of a virgin mary by the power of the holy spirit the shepherds find out and they act as witnesses to him the magi they follow the star and they find out how many i oh somebody hasn't been here i go through this every year we three kings not gonna sing it here it doesn't say how many there's three gifts gold frankincense and myrrh the magi not kings either and they visit a king not a nice guy trying to trick them they don't fall for it they worship jesus it's a spectacular thing and now they finally get what they needed but it isn't what they wanted so if we read the rest of that story we see he's not like the first king of israel a head taller than everybody else he's not like david a ruddy warrior a pretty guy it's not like that did you know that the bible tells us that jesus wasn't necessarily handsome it's not what they want we want a warrior king even though we saw how that worked out it's prophesied here isaiah 53 1 who has believed our message to whom has the lord revealed his powerful arm my servant grew up in the lord's presence like a tender green chute like a root in dry ground there was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance nothing to attract us to him he was despised and rejected a man of sorrows acquainted with deepest grief we turned our backs on him and looked the other way he was despised and we did not care yet it was our weakness he carried it was our sorrows that weighed him down and we thought his troubles were a punishment from god a punishment for his own sins but he was pierced for our rebellion crushed for our sins he was beaten so we could be whole he was whipped so he could be healed all of us like sheep have strayed away we have left god's past to follow our own yet the lord laid on him the sins of us all jesus wasn't what they wanted so they rejected what we celebrate today they rejected god's gift but he was exactly what they needed want to take a moment and talk a little bit about what we're doing here at c3 church some of you know there are going to be some new things that are interesting as we come into the new year very much aligning with the topic today i want to talk about the community's wants and needs and how we've been listening to the community and how we've been learning about the community those of you who've been here for a while you know that we have a heart for those in need a big heart for those in need and after years of working in close relationship with those in need we've discovered that giving people what they want alone isn't very helpful without a hand up a handout alone without a hand up isn't helpful while it's important to show our neighbors love by meeting them where they are in their immediate wants we must get to the real needs we must focus on the root causes the real needs in order to find a cure we've discovered that when we do handouts alone we do hamster wheel ministry the definition of insanity doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results we would see the same people coming in for years getting a little help at a time what they wanted and nothing ever changing not at all in fact in three years we saw one person come out of homelessness and countless people die people would take what they wanted and refuse what they needed we were giving people what they wanted alone and as a result we lost more than we won when you have more people dying than you're saving it's time to take a look at things because giving them what they wanted got them where they are it's called enabling you want to meet people where they are but you don't want to stay there when focusing on the handouts alone we found ourselves chasing symptoms by extending a hand up now we can find a cure through things like coffee don't worry i'm getting there maybe when you came in you noticed some coffee there with little names on them we're still experimenting although my wife will say that the names are completely set in stone but no they're written on index cards we can change it this is a preview into what we're going to be doing with our cafe so if you know about us you know that we have a cafe upstairs it's beautiful it's really nice and we have a heart for feeding people we also have a heart for doing church the way they did in the early church which which means breaking bread with each other which means fellowship so after every sunday service we go up there and we eat together and sometimes it's a potluck and sometimes we get really good special treats we had waigu beef hot dogs yeah they're such a thing and they're delicious i eat them every saturday anyway now you know my sin but you can eat why gooby fat dogs it's all good but anyway it's fun we have a good time special food up there and by extension we feed those in need they can join us right here come as you are everybody's welcome i'll feed you we also encourage our members to take the food we have special packaging to people in need feed as you have been fed we want to expand it just a little bit with the coffee it is our goal to have the cafe open all week serving specialty coffee really really really good coffee and also we served it so that no one would fall asleep during the sermon this evening if you drank some of the good stuff you're not falling asleep for two days i can't drink it i shake it's it's really really really strong but it's good right so we're going to serve the specialty coffee we'll still be giving free coffee on sundays to people anyone who wants it but we're going to sell it during the week and we're going to use those proceeds to take the next step which is homelessness prevention you see it doesn't just start there it starts with things like addiction and we have a heart for that here if you know my wife's story you've been here for a while you know she's in recovery she has a heart for that so we want to start more recovery meetings and supporting those efforts mental health awareness that's a big one it's important we want to take those next steps if you know our story my wife and i experienced homelessness and we've never forgotten what it's like to have that hand up the handouts would have done us no good at all but by getting a hand up here and there it worked we're not in that state anymore in celebration of jesus birthday i think if we're being honest there are a lot of christians showing up to jesus's birthday party with a present for themselves if we're being honest we'll probably get what we want this year and hopefully we won't shoot our eyes out with it but what about receiving what we need this year i think we can all agree that this world needs jesus but sadly there are far too many who don't want him they're still rejecting him to this day it's insanity isn't it doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result we need jesus to change all that nothing else will i think that's been proven so how do we change it well jesus tells us the answer is love the simple is that but it seems like the hardest thing to do we need to show our neighbors that we love them what we do says more about what we believe than anything we could possibly say when we love as we're called to when we're as generous as jesus called us to be when we demonstrate care for those around us for our community through our church through our cafe through generosity through compassion through the love of christ when we show real love really loving someone is giving them what they need so if we've received what we wanted and what we've needed this year then what we need to do is extend that to others through generosity if that hand up is what we've received we then need to extend it instead of keeping it to ourselves it's important which is why we need your support and carolee will come up here during the announcements and she'll show you how you can help us out what methods you can use to do that so i'm not going to harp on that but i encourage you to do it because these hand ups they're more difficult if we're being honest the handouts they're quick and kind of easy but hand up requires more energy more resources more relationship building it's a little harder it requires more help we all have to kind of participate and pitch in to get that done christmas is a time of year we should remember the ultimate gift that we have received from the beginning with the birth of our savior and for those of us who have been blessed it's our turn to be a blessing ultimately all of what we do here at c3 church should be in obedience to jesus's command to love our neighbors for the purpose of spreading the gospel that's what everybody needs and ultimately all for the glory of god in the worship of our great king jesus so as we celebrate his birth today let's do so in generosity so that we can bring everyone into what we all need jesus amen let me pray for you lord i thank you for everyone coming out here to celebrate your birth and lord i pray that we don't forget fill us with your holy spirit which will empower us to love and to display your fruit to our neighbors to the people that we're going to interact with they know we're going out to christmas dinner because we're christians so let us show everybody we encounter and interact with love and generosity as we go out so we can bring glory to your name keep us safe bring our families into peace and health let's show each other the love of christ we ask this in jesus name amen you