This sermon was written and delivered by Ashley Bekkerus.
Thanksgiving just happened and I think we all know what that means… Christmas movies are here and they’re here to stay. Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC Family are all going to be showing Christmas movies almost nonstop, and I’m sure Netflix will release their fair share of Christmas movies as well. And of course, i’m sure we’ll see everyone’s favorite Christmas movie – Die Hard – trending on Netflix’s Top 10 for most of December.
One of these staple Christmas movies is the Elf with Will Ferrell. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the basic premise is that the main character, Buddy, is actually a human who was adopted and raised by Santa’s elves. So, when he finds out, he returns to the very human world of New York to find his biological father. Of course, he’s surprised when he does find his father, who turns out to be on the naughty list, which is very contrary to Buddy, out of whom Christmas cheer literally pours.
So, the whole movie, Buddy is trying to get his cynic of a father to respond to him – to again have Christmas cheer – to show Buddy that he does recognize a relationship with him, even if Buddy is a little different than other humans. We see this in a lot of different ways – he tries to fit into his dads world but ends up calling someone his dad is working with an “angry elf” and causes a lot of problems. He tries to help his dad’s family decorate the tree and over-over-decorates. And lots of others.
I think this movie is perfect to outline the idea that we’re going to really delve into today. Oftentimes I think our relationship with God can feel a lot like Buddy’s relationship with his dad. Looking back on how crazy 2020 has been, it certainly feels to me like God is the cynical dad, who is removed from the chaos surrounding his human child. And at the same time it seems like we are the Buddy’s of the relationship – constantly poking, constantly trying to get a response out of the other and only rarely succeeding.
This is not a fun feeling, but I know quite a few people who have felt this way about this year. It’s been a rough one in a lot of different ways, and if you feel this way, trust me, you’re not alone. Lots of people both now and throughout time have felt cried out for God, wondering where God is, begged God to show up. I don’t say that to negate those feelings, but as an encouragement to you. We’ll see today that even these feelings are a kind of hope-filled healing.
Because here’s the truth: in Elf, the movie resolves, not because Buddy changes and becomes more human, but because his father is changed by Buddy, just the way he is. In this Advent journey, something different is going to happen:
As we work through our Advent journey, we’ll discover what God’s people have found over and over: God is not distant. God is with us. Advent is a journey of learning to see how God is present to us.