Dearest Sisters and Brothers, we have to bid a very consequential and challenging Advent season goodbye, and pass over to the Eve of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ…or do we?
This final Advent reflection crescendos with Love, the theme of the final Advent candle. Popular voices clamor that all we need is love, that love is like oxygen, that love lifts us up where we belong (oh what a wagging musical cinematic reference THIS is! Anyone? Bueller? Anyone know the movie?), to make you feel my love. Love is referenced 686 times in Holy Scripture, only half of Sin’s 1,364 references but a million times more important! I vote with Paul….the greatest of these spiritual gifts is love. Or John….for God so loved this world. Adam and Eve’s first love-making begets the human race in love’s biblical introduction, and those who love falsehoods so much they cannot enter the new heavens and new earth conclude love’s appearances in the last verses of Revelation. And while God is Holy above every other attribute in the Old Testament, in Christian scripture the Johannine epistle writer states plaintively, God is Love. All of Advent’s themes, collects, music, personages and messages find their meaning in God’s overwhelming love. Hope, Peace, Joy…none have any purchase apart from God’s love. Advent compels us to love both ourselves and our neighbor as God loves us. 613 Torah commandments, and Jesus immediately chose the two with a command verbal form to love! The Gospel is essentially love come down to us in the person of the Babe in that Bethlehem manger.
Dear readers, pandemics can rob us of so many creaturely comforts, cherished holiday traditions, certitude and safety. Political tumult springs hourly from the very reason our scriptures cite sin over 1,300 times! But no power on this earth or in this cosmos can deprive us of God’s love! Paul said it best, For I am convinced that…nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Babe in the Manger is the Man on the Cross, whose miraculous birth, horrific death and creation-breaking resurrection guarantees Paul’s bold statement of reality for every Christian believer. It’s not postulation but proclamation! God loves you more than anyone ever has. Tonight we receive the greatest gift we have ever received or will ever receive. Love come down to us, God-With-Us, Emmanuel here and now.
I thank you for journeying with me in this ofttimes arduous daily devotional reflection. Thank you for your patience with my tedious vocabulary and frequent interruptive tendencies. Thank you for your warm encouragement when we have spoken. I offer my love, received as the greatest gift in my own life, to each and every one of you tonight in return. We all journey together now to the manger, in that cave (yes, it is! Get back Francis of Assisi, you’ll get your turn soon enough!) through the deeper magic of our worship. The most important in-person person tonight is already there. We may not able to be in person tonight, but believe me, He is here in the mansion God has been preparing inside of us. Love come down to be born anew in the mangers of our hearts.
- I find my own faith to be so deeply aligned with and reflective of everything Advent that I am in fact an Advent Christian! I cannot simply exit this season as God’s love does not exit me from this place, at least in not right now. What church season best reflects your faith? With which season do you most deeply align?
- I pray for each of you, and will seek myself, that stillness and darkness tonight after everyone else is asleep. I will light that Fourth Advent Candle and look out for that Convergence star tonight. Would you join me?
- And now we turn to a 12 day Christmas season called Christmastide! Yes dear readers, I mean to continue providing daily devotionals until we reach Ash Wednesday, where I began these reflections earlier this year. So please join me back here daily as we navigate the 12 Days of Christmas, 12th Night, and the wonderful Epiphany season beyond!