Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas at the Movies: Elf

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all thing things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” – Luke 2:20

This month, our church has been going to “Christmas at the Movies”–taking a look at some of the most-loved Christmas films of all time, based on a vote from our attenders. Our second-place vote-getter tells the story of a baby boy named Buddy who is raised at the North Pole by one of Santa’s elves. That movie, of course, is “Elf.”

Buddy the Elf didn’t really fit in. He was twice as tall as all the other elves, so the chairs he sat in were too small, the doorways and ceilings were too short, and when it came to making toys … he was A LOT slower than the other elves. Now, Santa’s elves liked Buddy. They thought he was a nice guy. But at the same time, they thought he was a lousy elf. He was a round peg in a square hole. Have you ever felt like Buddy–like you didn’t belong?” Well, you’re not alone.

Take a look at Luke 2:8: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” But everyone else was in town, registering for the big census. What’s up with that? Well, at the time Jesus was born, shepherds had become outcasts in Jewish society. Because they worked with dirty sheep, they were considered ceremonially unclean, and they were banned from entering any Jewish synagogue. They could not testify in a court of law, because the ruling class thought that they were liars who weren’t trustworthy. They were basically considered to be less than human, so why count them in the census?

Jewish society looked at the shepherds and decided that they just didn’t measure up. In a similar way, the North Pole elves looked at Buddy and decided that he didn’t measure up. And, honestly, many of us have had our families, friends, teachers bosses look us over and decide WE don’t measure up either.

Finally, at the age of 30, Buddy learns the truth: He’s a human in an elf world. He decides to leave and search for acceptance somewhere else. So, he sets out on a bold adventure to New York City to find his biological dad. Buddy dreams of being accepted with open arms. He envisions days filled with sipping hot cocoa, eating spaghetti with syrup, ice skating and snuggling with his dad. But when he gets to New York City and find his father’s office in the Empire State Building, Dad has him thrown out of the building. Poor Buddy! He doesn’t fit in at the North Pole, and he doesn’t seem to fit in with his dad either.

But instead of sulking, Buddy takes the security guards up on their snarky suggestion and walks across the street to Gimbel’s department store. He finds the toy department—labeled “The North Pole”—and that’s where Buddy the Elf really stands out. Surrounded by bored, grumpy store employees who have absolutely NO Christmas spirit, Buddy’s childlike enthusiasm and joy are off the charts. But when their fake Santa arrives the next day, Buddy confronts him … and ends up getting assaulted and slapped with a restraining order.
Do you know who the workers at Gimbel’s remind me of? They remind me of some Christians on a Sunday morning. The manager, the fake Santa and all the other elves weren’t really excited about Christmas. They were just going through the motions to get their paycheck. But for Buddy, Santa’s visit was personal. And in a worship service, far too often, we aren’t really excited about Jesus, are we? We may go through the motions with very little enthusiasm for singing to our awesome God, for communion, prayer or studying God’s word. Imagine if we were as excited for Jesus as Buddy the Elf is for Santa. Let me encourage you, church, to be a little bit more like Buddy as you worship and serve Jesus Christ.

In Luke 2:8, the Bethlehem shepherds were a few miles outside of town watching their smelly, dirty sheep. It was a normal night. Until suddenly “an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” And the angel made those shepherds the first messengers of the ultimate good news: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (v. 11). Then hundreds of angels filled the night sky and sang praises to God. The angels announced “good news of great joy,” and the shepherds embraced that “good news” and that “great joy” and they ran with it.

They couldn’t believe it! They were nobodies in society. But evidently, God thought they were somebodies. No matter what people thought of the shepherds, they mattered to God. And so do you! What matters most is not whether or not people think you matter, but whether or not God thinks you matter. And here’s some good news: God thinks you matter.

Why did God choose to announce Jesus’ birth to shepherds? Why didn’t he choose priests or rabbis? Why didn’t he choose some other prominent citizens? I believe God chose shepherds, in part, because He knew they wouldn’t just get the message right—they would get the enthusiasm and joy right. Verse 20 tells us, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all thing things they had heard and seen.”

Let’s take a lesson from the shepherds, from Buddy the Elf and from our own kids. Let’s get excited about Christmas! God has brought us good news of great joy. Are you going to celebrate and share that good news with enthusiasm? God has chosen to bring this good news of great joy to YOU! Don’t squander it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with enthusiasm and joy!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for church every Sunday at 10 a.m. at the new Dr. Ralph Baker School in Victorville. For more information, visit

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