LOVE: ADVENT DEVOTIONAL by Andy and Erin Lurker
But the Angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
The culmination of the Christmas story… the response to the waiting of advent… Christ born unto us, the incarnation of God’s LOVE. Emmanuel: God is with us. God came to us and took on human form, to dwell among us. The fullness of God’s LOVE could not be expressed at a distance. Behold Christ in human form as a babe and experience the mystery that God’s LOVE is reflected in the eyes of a baby and my identity as a human is wrapped up in that. He has revealed himself in my form. He came down. God is with us. HIS LOVE IS HIS PRESENCE. With us. In us. Among us. “The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14
Jesus gave up his rights, privileges and comforts to be present with us. Jesus chose to put himself at the mercy of imperfect people, his very life and wellbeing in the hands of a young carpenter and a teen mom. What does it say about God, who was willing to become that vulnerable in order to connect deeply with us? Perhaps, a valuable question to ponder this Christmas is are we willing to do the same? With God? With ourselves? With others?. Jesus’ birth and his life story illuminate for us a life that is at home being homeless and okay with being misunderstood, all for the sake of others. This kind of being in the world is only possible when one understands fully the LOVE of God on his/her behalf.
The finale of Advent, God’s loving presence revealed and celebrated, is nearly upon us. There is something sacred, perhaps, in the rhythm of seasonality to our lives. The repeated patterns of the seasons give us an indication that this order of things is purposeful, expected, needed. Can I learn in one revelation the fullness of God’s LOVE for me? Perhaps I need a reminder, a call to come back again and again to a posture of receiving, beholding, responding in awe-filled worship. Can there be a freshness in this Advent season for me? An awakening in my spirit? An experience again year after year of the LOVE that advent announces in this revelation of God with us? The incomprehensible LOVE that would lead the God of the universe to bring the divine down and enter into our humanity. The LOVE that defines our identity. We are the beloved. He has come. God is with us.
And God’s unique, loving presence remains with us to this day. In Acts 1 Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to come onto His followers and commissions them to take His presence out to the ends of the earth. The incarnation of God flows from Jesus into His believers. We, as Spirit-filled disciples, are now the physical form of God’s LOVE come to earth. LOVE casts out fear… it doesn’t make me reckless but empowers me to be free from fear of self-sacrifice so that I can participate in the world in a way that actively seeks the good of others. Love casts out self-centered fear… self-interest, self-protection, self-obsession. I am freed to love because God’s love has so filled me up.
A pandemic Christmas seems like a contradiction; sickness and death don’t conjure up images of LOVE, light and new life. But the truth of it is that Jesus chose to enter into a sick and dying world, ultimately demonstrating a LOVE that restores it all. These are unique and trying times, Church, but IN THE NAME OF JESUS we speak a blessing over you in this season…
We bless you with LOVE balanced on wisdom, in defiance of both negligence and fear.
We bless you with HOPE for a world restored, and a spark for your role in its restoration.
We bless you with JOY that is deep, rooted in an identity and destiny beyond our present circumstances.
We bless you with PEACE that is deeper than the absence of conflict, centered in the justice of heaven whose terms and timing may not be our own.
In the name of Jesus we bless you with His presence today and until the final day.
Merry Christmas Mountain View Church. Go and LOVE well…for you, God’s children, are well loved!
Activities for further worship and reflection…
How am I (or how could I learn to be) aware throughout my day of God’s presence with me?
Does the love of God toward me motivate me to action? How? Where?
If love is presence, who can I be present to in this unique time and place?
O come, O come Emmanuel (This hymn originated in the 9th century in the monastic tradition.)
View this artwork: Our Lady of the Night – 1934 oil painting by Sr. Marie Pierre Semler