I wrote this post way back in 2011, long before most of you joined the party. I found it in my archives, my own words made me cry, and I decided it was worth dusting off and reposting. Because truth only gets truer the more it is tested. I said in my Thanksgiving post that I'm grateful He, the Father of Lights - as I wander and fall and change - stays the same. He sticks with me. Reading what 2-years-ago me had to say only renewed that gratitude.
As you probably know by now, I have - as my friend Mike says - "very specific feelings" toward many things.
Generally, I'm not a fan of unplanned sequels. Most movies or books that were meant to stand alone should stay that way. Nothing good can come from adding on. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, including Sister Act- in which the second clearly surpasses the first, due to the addition of Lauryn Hill; and The Might Ducks trilogy, which I don't even feel the need to justify. But, for the most part, sequels like Legally Blonde 2, Dumb and Dumberer and The Land Before Time (parts 2 through....13?) ruin it for everyone.
That being said, I was wholly against Shrek Forever After, the 4th installment in a series that was already pushing it.
But this is not a movie review blog. It is a blog about Jesus and I'm getting there.
In Shrek Forever After, Shrek gets a glimpse into what would have happened if he was never born. In a world without Shrek, Princess Fiona was never rescued and The Kingdom of Far Far Away is overtaken by the evil Rumplestiltskin. This beautiful and peaceful land falls into ruin - ravaged by famine, void of justice and patrolled by witches who throw molotov pumpkins. Good people are either forced into Rumplestiltskin's service or driven to exile.
It's all around depressing.
And it all caught up to me at Christmas Eve service.
I guess before this year and before Shrek 4, I always thought of Christmas as just kind of a pre-Easter celebration. It always seemed a little grotesque to celebrate the birth of a baby because we know He grows up to die for our freedom. But this year, standing in Christmas Eve service, caught up in that surreal warmth that the candlelight songs always give me, my mind kept looping back to Shrek and the idea of a kingdom without a Good King. If Jesus was never born, Goodness never would have been introduced to our human existence. Sin would still be free to ravage our world and our kingdom - chucking molotov pumpkins at our souls.
And I heard them read those words they read every year:
" the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. "
And I think the human heart can only bear so much significance, so much beauty, so much gratefulness, before it starts to spill out of our eyes.
So,as the music swelled and I looked out into a sea of tiny lights, I thought of a world ruled by a bad king, suddenly receiving it's true King. A king that ancient books say we will call Wonderful Counseler, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And I realized we're not just celebrating the eventual sacrifice of Jesus, but rather the defeat of a bad king.
The rescue of our kingdom.
The introduction of light and hope.
And so yes, joy to the world - not just because He came to die, but because He came to stay. We celebrate the birth of a God who is called Emmanuel. A God who has been, since that silent night, everlastingly, delightedly, firmly and decidedly AMONG US.
Because, just as darkness is merely the absence of light, hell is a kingdom absent of God. He will bring us GOODNESS AND LIGHT. He is very near and He is redeeming this kingdom.