Advent II – Love

I am linking up With All Manner of Inspiration for Sacro Speco (sacred space).

Today is the second Sunday of Advent.  Churches and Homes around the world will light the candle of Love.  This is the season of anticipation of the arrival of the Christ child.  Of course this is symbolic as we know he came long ago.  For believers this also represents the anticipation of his second coming.

Love takes us to Bethlehem where we find the Christ child in a manger.  Today, I share an advent devotional with you that I wrote for the Fern Creek Baptist Church Advent Devotional Booklet a few years ago.  It has been edited with some additions.

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Love Him, Love Others

There is a song that I remember singing in high school choir.

 Love Came Down at Christmas, Love all love divine,  Love came down at Christmas and I know, I know that love is mine.

It is a beautiful song, but it is more than just words.  It is truth.  Truth about unconditional love.  The love God gave us in the gift of his son.  He came to us via a manger.  He was new life that offered new life to us via the cross.  

He was fully God and fully man.  He knew no sin.  Yet, he lived among us, walked among us and showed us how to love.  His life started humbly encased by pieces of wood.  His life on earth ended in humiliation nailed to two pieces of wood.

The story doesn’t end with his death.  He rose again on the third day and now he is at the right hand of the father.  Part of the celebration of Advent is anticipating his return to redeem his children. It will be victorious and he will be crowned the King of Kings! We will reign with him forever and ever.

How can we respond to the gift of the Christ child?  The answer is found in the gospel of John Chapter 13.  Jesus says, as I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Sounds simple and easy. On a good day.  The reality is not always that simple.  Think about it.  He died on a cross for us; He gave the ultimate sacrifice – His life.  If we’re honest, that’s not really how we want to love others; not with our life.

We want love to be flowers and candy and nicely written sentiments; we want to give hugs and have good times, but we don’t want to be bothered to stretch beyond the niceties.   Deep abiding love is so much more.  It is unconditional, self-sacrificing, forgiving.  It puts others first.  It means loving with our life.  Maybe not literally with our life, like Jesus did, but sacrificially, with our time and resources.

How do we live a life that honors God by loving others?  We can’t on our own. The first step in loving others as he has commanded is to love Him. We love Him because He first loved us.  He pursued us and lavished his love on us in the gift of the blood of Christ shed for our salvation.  When we accept His love and cherish it we are so full that love spills over into the lives of others.  We are not capable of unconditional, sacrificial love on our own.  But with Christ all things are possible.  

As you are Celebrating the Christ of the manger, during this Christmas Season, remember the love on the cross. Ask Jesus to help you show his love to others.  The best gift you can give someone, is to love them unconditionally, to love them with your life. As Christ has loved you.

Loving because of grace,

Teresa

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Joy Came Down At Christmas

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,                          so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”                    Romans 15:13

The joy of Christmas is set against the bitter cold of no room at the inn.  It is reflected in the brightness of the star that shone into the starkness of the stable only to become a mere reflection compared to the great love that was lying in the manger.

Joy catches the light of the Savior’s love and penetrates deep into our soul to fill us with unspeakable majesty.  We cannot fathom it, but even in our deepest despair it is there as the foundation on which all our hope is built, pointing the way to eternity.

An eternity made possible by the darkest hour in all of history, when the love born in the stable was hung on a cross and joy sliced through the sorrow of our sin and brought freedom to our souls.

Joy and sorrow have always resided on opposite sides of the same coin.  You cannot have one without the other.  Joy remembered makes sorrow bearable and sorrow reflected in the pool of joy rides on wings of hope and restores our faith.

Even when the world doesn’t see joy, there is comfort in knowing that it is all around us in the presence of the one who came so long ago for the very purpose of bringing us the gift of joy.  That is why we can shout from the depths of our souls: “Joy to the World”.

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Joy in Grace,

Sadie