“…. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
himself for me.”
We have celebrated the first three weeks of Advent by lighting the candles of Hope, Peace and Joy and on this fourth Sunday we light the candle that arguably ties these things together; Love.
Love is perhaps the most under appreciated word in the English language. Unlike Greek or Hebrew, we have only the one word to describe all the shades of affection.
The truth is that we can have affection for anything or anyone. It is a feeling we express about a movie we have seen. An attachment to a particular object that has special meaning. And of course, we love people in our lives, family, friends, even some we may never meet. There is nothing wrong with any of these feelings of attachment that we describe as love, but it does make it harder to express the kind of love that we read of in the Bible.
What is this “love” of God? In the gospel of John, we are told,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”
What an amazing statement. The creator of all things loves His creation enough to sacrifice everything for that creation. This is where hope comes in. To know that our Father is so deeply committed to us, His creation, that He would send His true son to the cross for us puts the power in hope. It is beyond imagination that we could be so cared about. Our hope is built in the loyalty and devotion that our Creator has for us.
It is this love, that flows freely upon us that assures of peace. Contentment that does not come from the world or circumstances we find ourselves in, but in the indwelling Spirit that is now upon us. Christ’s promise has been fulfilled and the Spirit guides us to a place within our own beings where we can find calm. When we live in Christ, a sense of wellbeing, even in the most difficult times, is possible. This too is a gift of God’s love for us.
When we trust in the promise of the Father, we find the Son and we find Love. What joy we have in the knowledge that Jesus not only “emptied Himself out” (Philippians 2:7) to come to us as a babe, but that He grew into the man who would sacrifice His very life so that we might know what love really is. The story does not end there, it is with great rejoicing that on the third day He rose again. When we live in this belief, joy overflows our spirit and spills out into the world, shedding love all about us.
Love. It ties all of the lights of Advent together and brings us into the grace of the Lord of All Things. And when we let the light of hope, peace and joy filter deep into our being we begin to live in the love of Christ more deeply. That love then flows from us brings the light of love to a broken and hurting world.
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