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    Youth/Children
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Pastor’s Note: Unfiltered Truth


Today the television and movie industries seem to be obsessed with rewriting stories. It’s as if writers have run out of ideas so they’ve settled for rewriting what’s already been done. Currently in television production are the reboots of Magnum PI, Miami Vice, Murphy Brown, Duck Tales, Battle of the Network Stars, Dynasty, the Jetsons, the Magic School Bus, and the X-Files to name a few. In Hollywood the Neverending Story, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Little Shop of Horrors, Top Gun, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Scarface, and Sister Act are all slated for re-writes. But of all the reboots and re-writes, the ones that seem to be the most unnecessary to me are the Christmas classics. Please Hollywood, quit messing with the originals! Did we really need another remake of the Grinch? Hey studio executives, why did the Nutcracker need to be turned into a fantasy adventure? To be fair though, I’m obsessed with re-writing stories too.

Every time I put up a post on Facebook or Instagram, I can put it through a filter. If I don’t like how an image looks, I can manipulate it. The holidays provide the perfect opportunity for prime-time image manipulation, don’t they? What will I manipulate this holiday season to make others think that I’ve got it all together? Perhaps I’ll only post pictures of my family where they are smiling. Maybe I’ll ‘humble brag’ through posts like, “I’m so very blessed to have this ___” or “I’m so thankful that God allowed us to travel to ___.” Hopefully, I won’t be so busy taking pictures of my time with family that I miss it altogether. When I share my life through a filter, I’m re-writing my story. Am I sobered with who I am that I need to hide behind false narratives created for others digital consumption? Even worse, if I’m willing to re-write my own story what else am I willing to re-write? God’s story of redemption in my life?

One of my mentors once taught me that we have a tendency to “sanitize the saints.” What he meant was that we like to read Scripture in a way that makes us feel better about ourselves rather than confronting its truths, especially the tough truths. The reality is that everyone in the Bible didn’t really look like they do in the movies where they speak English, have nice white teeth, and look clean all the time. Rather, the Bible is full of messy people who are saved by the Messiah. In his book, The Imperfect Pastor, Zack Eswine writes, “We know about Noah’s drunken debacle as well as his courage and faith… We sing the Psalms of a man after God’s own heart. But this man also did terrible deeds and at times made tragic choices far beneath his calling and the grace given him. Paul teaches us. But God made sure that we receive Paul’s teaching and integrity while knowing Saul of Tarsus’s bitter story.” People in the Bible are broken and they are beautiful. Thanks be to God that we serve an Author who does not use a filter or re-write the broken parts.

And here’s the unfiltered truth that he wrote for us, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Matthew 1:23). Immanuel has come and he is mighty to save. This real event happened in real time on this real planet. Make note of the shepherds’ response after they worshiped him. “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20). The shepherds didn’t put it through a filter on social media, they didn’t sell the rights to the story, and they definitely didn’t try to re-write it. The shepherds simply glorified God and returned to their flock because that’s what shepherds do. And when you hear this true story again this Christmas season, remember that our Good Shepherd will return for us. Until then, let us glorify and praise God for all that he has done and told us. Let’s praise him for the beautiful and the brokenness in us all.