During this Advent season of waiting, we have reflected on the gifts of Hope, Peace, and Joy. Today we can sum things up by paraphrasing the words of St. Paul in I Corinthians: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, abide these four, but the greatest of these is Love.
Without the radical love of Jesus for the least lovable among us and yes, even for our enemies, there is no hope for peace and joy in our hearts or in our world. Without love for God and God’s way of being in the world we are doomed to keep waiting for the blessed community to appear out of thin air. Love is a verb, it is a call to action to treat everyone else as we want to be treated; but it is also a call to love ourselves as God’s redeemed and beloved children. Without love for ourselves we have no love to share with our neighbors.
Love for ourselves and for others is the whole point of Christmas. God so loved the world, all of it and all of us, that God came to show us that love in the form of a helpless infant. Without the loving care of his young mother, of a kind innkeeper, and the trust Joseph had in God’s messengers baby Jesus would not have survived infancy.
Today we celebrate the greatest gift of Love ever given–the perfect love that alone can cast out fear. And with grateful hearts we light the candle of Love.
[Light 4th Candle]
Pray with me please: O Holy and loving God, with grateful hearts we give you thanks that faithful and patient waiting for you is always rewarded. Your promises are trustworthy and true. In these final busy days of Advent help us keep our eye on the prize and the only reason for this season. We are always amazed and challenged by the depth of your unconditional love for us. Prepare our hearts and minds this week to humbly receive the amazing love you have for us. Let us not take that gift for granted, but may we reflect your love for the world in all we say and do in this special week leading up Jesus’ holy birth. In his Holy name we pray. Amen
Northwest United Methodist Church, December 18, 2022