Christmas and love

Our pastor has been taking some time each Sunday in Advent and at our Christmas eve service to talk with the young children in our church about what the candles on the Advent wreath represent. When he asks them if they remember what they stand for they enthusiastically shout out Hope, Love, Joy and Peace and that the one in the middle is for Jesus, the Christ.

The one that has stuck in my mind has been love. We commonly think of love as a feeling, either in the romantic sense or in the sense of the affection that a parent has for a child. I can identify with those as I think of my love for my wife and her love for me that we express in the time we share with each other as well as the gifts that we give at this time of year and as I enjoyed having some of our children and grandchildren with us the past two days.

But even though the love expressed by God at Christmas involves his affection for us you have to get down to the fourth definition in the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary before you get to the kind of love that Christmas really represents. That is the definition that says “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. One of the most amazing things about Christmas is that Jesus chose to let go of the glory of his eternal co-existence with the Father and Spirit and take upon himself the limitedness of a helpless human infant born to a poor mother who was thought to be having an illegitimate child and who had nowhere other than a stable to give birth to her son. That is the meaning of being selfless. And he did it for our good. He knew that we would be unable to know God unless he came to earth to be one of us and then die for us so that we could be cleansed from our sin and be transformed into children of God. John says in his first letter that God is love, and what Jesus did at Christmas and beyond have shown that to us.

Let us respond by loving one another in selfless benevolent concern for our fellow human beings.

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