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8:30am & 11am Services

Christmas After the Credits

December 25, 2016 Pastor: Matt Wilcox

Topic: Faithfulness Scripture: Colossians 1:21–1:23, Colossians 2:6–2:7

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Christmas After the Credits I have to be honest and let you know that I’ve never preached two days in a row, let alone the previous night and next morning. So this is sort of the preacher’s equivalent of short rest like you would have for a pitcher. But it is such a blessing to be with all of you this morning. Last night was so very special for me. My first Christmas Eve with First Pres, my family’s first Christmas eve service here. And this morning Isaac and the rest of my family got to have our first “Normal” Christmas.

It’s been a whirlwind but a joyful one. And now here we are. This is sort of like the solar eclipse of church services because Christmas only falls on a Sunday every six years or so. So this is kind of a rare gift. And that’s how I see it as a pastor as well. We pretty much never get to preach a message and then come back to you the next day and say, “Oh, and this too!”

That’s sort of what I want to do this morning. Last night at the 5pm service we heard the birth narrative from Luke and we reviewed all the characters from the past few weeks in our Christmas Through the Eyes Of series. And then I introduced us to Colossians 1 and this new image we have of Christ. We left that service meditating on the ways Christmas could change us and how, by seeing Christ in a new way, we might become a part of Christ’s plan to change and save the world…a plan that took form and face with his birth.

This morning I want us to go back to Colossians but with a different purpose in mind. I love movies. I enjoy a wide variety of movies and one genre of movie I like a lot is super hero movies, like the ones Marvel puts out. Iron Man, the Avengers, Captain America…I’m a sucker for a good hero story. All of those movies have something in common, aside from the main characters wearing costumes and all that. They all have what’s called a post-credits scene. How many of you know what I’m talking about? You know, the movie ends and the credits start to roll but then either in the middle of the credits or at the very end there is an extra bonus scene.

Marvel isn’t the only folks to do this kind of thing. In fact, it’s got a pretty lengthy history in film-making going back to franchises like the Muppets and James Bond. One of the very first movies to do this was Ferris Buellers Day Off. A cult-classic movie. It ends, the credits roll and wrap up, and then we get one more scene. That scene has received a lot of hype because it breaks through what is called the 4th wall. The character in the movie actually addresses and talks to us as the audience. Other after credit scenes take on a different approach.

Their job is to tease the next movie coming out. This is the route Marvel takes with all of its movies. And maybe it’s because I’m such a movie buff but when I was thinking about this message for the past few weeks the thing that kept popping up in my mind was these kinds of after credit scenes from a movie. Every single one of us has now come through Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We’ve enjoyed those precious experiences of Christmas carols and candle lighting and waking up on Christmas morning. I got to see my son, Isaac, enjoy Christmas morning in such a new way. Apparently, Christmas is a bigger deal when your two and a half than when your six months or one and a half. And now I pose the question of: What’s next? Not logistically. I know we have dinners and gatherings and traditions ahead of us.

My family has a trip back to PA starting right after this service. I’m not talking about what will be on your table for Christmas dinner or where you will stash all the gifts you already want to return. I’m asking “what’s next?” in terms of our identity as children of God and followers of Christ. To start to answer that question, I want us to keep reading in Colossians from where we left off last night. We’re going to start in Colossians 1:21-23 and then jump to Colossians 2:6-7. Last night’s text, Colossians 1:15-20, that was the movie and main event.

Christmas Day, that’s the main event. This text following in Colossians is the follow up. It’s the teaser and post credit scene that links us to the next big act in God’s production and plan. Last night our text in Colossians 1 and the nativity story in the Gospel of Luke gave us our opening glimpse of Jesus Christ. The child born in a manger and the image of the invisible God. The tiny infant who would be placed in a wooden manger and the Savior who would be placed on the wood of a cross. This text here this morning, this text calls us to imagination and participation. Because of Christ’s birth and life and death we are no longer enemies of God.

We are given new life because of the birth and death of Christ. We are presented as holy to God and given new identity and purpose now. And then the text in Colossians 2 shows us what that means. Now that we’ve received Christ. Now that we’ve celebrated the holiday marked by His birth. Now that we’ve been reminded of the truth and the power of that birth. What do we do? Paul starts off fairly basic: Continue to live your lives in Christ. This is one of the things I think we sometimes get confused by and discouraged by. Having a breakthrough moment in our faith or a conversion experience changes everything but it also doesn’t take us from where God has placed us. When we have a profound experience of Christ’s love we are still wearing the same clothes, we still have the same name, and the same events are still written in our calendars. But now we do and live that life in Christ. Paul says to live our lives rooted in Christ, built up and fortified by Christ, strengthened in our faith, and overflowing with thankfulness. In the clip I referred to earlier, Ferris asks why the audience is still there. The movie’s over. Go home. That is exactly the opposite of what we should do today as we celebrate Christmas.

Yes, we’re going to go home and we’re going to do all the things that makes Christmas a meaningful day for us and our loved ones. But our understanding of Christ should be different now, renewed at the least, and that means we should live our lives in a new way. In the way Paul talks about. With a new foundation and source. With a new strength and a heart filled with overflowing thankfulness. As the credits get ready to being rolling when this day is over, we should all think about what it is God is calling us to be and the work He is calling us to take part in.

And in the spirit of all my talk about teasers and after credit scenes, I recognize it wouldn’t be fair to not offer one of my own for all of you. Some of you might be wondering, “How do I do this? How do I live out a life changed by what I know about Christmas and about Christ? How do I do the things Paul talks about in Colossians?” Well, Larry and I will give you some possibilities with our new sermon series starting on January 15th – a series entitled, “Who Is My Neighbor?” Let’s pray.