Advent with Abstract: Love

There are several things that I wonder/worry about with this blog. Is the message clear? Does it sound too much like the sermon it’s based off of? Are the stories I tell interesting enough? Do I discuss the same scriptures or themes too much?

I don’t know for a fact that anyone saw this post was about love and rolled their eyes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if anyone did. I don’t know if I talk about love too much, but I do talk about it a lot. To me, God’s love is important, overwhelming, and transformative, but I realize other people might want to hear about hope or joy or mercy more because that characteristic of God is special to him or her.

So if you’re tire of reading about love here, I’m sort of sorry, but brace yourself because it’s happening again.

It’s really easy to be cynical around the holidays. (I would say from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but it’s more like mid-October to Christmas since that’s when most stores start putting out decorations, bags, wrapping paper, etc.) It’s easy because someone will punch you for a gift just because it’s on sale. And the giving can also seem like less of an expression of love and gratitude and more of method to earn someone’s adoration or envy.

Part of the reason why Charlie Brown, The Grinch (both the cartoon and live-action movie), and Elf are so great is because they prove that the best parts of Christmas – Jesus, family, loving your fellow human beings – can’t be paid for in any sort of store. And yeah, that might mean that some people won’t want those things, but that’s their issue and not yours. (You can offer it to them, but you can’t make them accept it.)

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the songs, the lights, the colors. I like candy canes, especially the Sweetart ones, I love the generous outpour, the giving to one another, especially to the needy. I love all of the traditions I participate in, both old and new, and I have a lot of good Christmastime memories with loved ones who’ve passed away. Of course, I’m thankful for the birth of Jesus, and that’s certainly a part of why I love this holiday, but it’s all these other aspects added to it that make it my favorite.

For me, everything I enjoy about Christmas can be traced back to love. Isn’t that what Christmas is about? Isn’t that what Jesus is all about?

Jesus said in John 13:34-35 (NLT), “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

The context of this scripture is this: Jesus is talking to His disciples not too long before His arrest and crucifixion. It’s Passover, and it’s the Last Supper. Jesus knows what’s coming, and He just told the disciples what’s coming. So Jesus is saying all the big, important things He wants to before He leaves, and this scripture is part of it.

The question then is: Why would the world know they were Jesus’ disciples because of the love they showed?

Jesus said to love as He loved. If you read the Gospels, you’ll see how that was, how it still is. It was unconditional. He loved those who didn’t believe in Him and even those who actively hurt Him. It was bold. Even if it meant bad stigmas or a bad reputation, Jesus demonstrated the same love for others publically as He would have if no one else knew or was around. It was empowering. Jesus’ love changed the way people saw the world and themselves. It was constant, it was free, and it was bottomless. The love that Jesus showed while on Earth was so pure and genuine. There was nothing like it, and there hasn’t been since.

So if we love with a love like that, Jesus must be the source of it. It’s easy to identify and trace. The world won’t have to guess because it’ll be evident. A deeper love comes from a higher power, and the most exceptional love comes from God.

Christmas itself is the perfect example of that richest love.

Imagine sending something incredibly near and dear to your heart, the most beloved part of yourself, to a dirty, ungrateful people. You know it will largely remain unrecognized and will often be unwelcomed. You know some will do everything they can to destroy this gift. But you send this gift, this perfect and priceless gift, as a path to reconciliation. Because those far from perfect people? You actually really love them. You love them more than they could possibly know, every last one of them.

That gift? He was real. He slept in a manger because there wasn’t room for Him anywhere else. He looked up at His mom and beheld the sky above her that His Father made. He was there when God formed the Earth that He had come to.

Just as Jesus was God incarnate, He was also love incarnate. One element of God’s character is equated with His whole being in the Bible, and that one element is love. It’s simply who He is.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we should remember that it’s an occasion meant to celebrate love, no matter how society might try to change it. Let’s think of the love God showed us, the imperfect beings we are, when He sent us Jesus. And most importantly, let’s show that same love to everyone else.

By Carrie Prevette

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