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Christmas a story of redemption

The movie Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards in 2009 and gained popular acclaim.

The movie Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards in 2009 and gained popular acclaim. The story's poverty, violence, crime and child exploitation provide a backdrop for a tender story between Jamal, a young man from the slums of Mumbai, India, and his unwavering love for Latika, a beautiful girl he met in the same slum. Jamal and Latika are tragically separated for years, and after they see each other briefly, she's taken from him again. Yet he never stops trying to find her.

Against impossible odds, in the last scene of the film Jamal and Latika finally reunite. He pulls back the long yellow scarf wrapped around her face and sees a long, captor-inflicted scar that disfigures her face. As she looks down in shame, Jamal, his eyes full of tears, holds up her face and kisses her scar. Not first her lips, but her scar. It's as if the scar itself is at last redeemed, and somehow made beautiful (Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good, Multnomah, 2009, pages 368-369).

Stories of redemption resonate with all of us. They stir something deep inside of us and cause us to respond with strong emotion.

I believe that's because two things are true of every person on the face of this earth.

No. 1: we each personally identify with a backstory of pain, dysfunction, estrangement, despair, the feeling of being lost, or all the above. We live on a planet where sin taints every single one of us. We are intimately familiar with what's wrong in this world. And that's reason No. 1 we find stories of redemption so compelling.

Reason No. 2: we were created by God to be redeemed. The need to be brought out of the messes of this life - both those inflicted on us and those of our own making - is hard-wired into every one of us. We want to be redeemed, because God created us for the purpose of living for and with our redeemer.

Christmas celebrates the coming of that redeemer. Jesus left the glory of heaven so many years ago to enter our world and deal with the problem of our sin. The Bible says in Second Corinthians 5:21 that God "...made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Jesus, who is God come in the flesh, experienced the full weight of the sin of the world and paid its rightful penalty - death - so that you and I wouldn't have to. Like Jamal's tenderness toward Latika, Jesus offers to make our lives beautiful again, despite the scars that sin has afflicted.

And that's why we celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is the beginning of God's plan of making a way for us to be redeemed; the beginnings of God demonstrating His deep love for us by offering the possibility of forgiveness, restoration, and peace with Him.

Christmas really is a story of redemption.