Hard to believe that the week is slipping away and I failed to continue reflecting on Advent. The season swamped me and the hope, joy and peace of Advent almost got lost in the last minute push.
But, I cannot tell you how excited I am to share that the final message of Advent isLOVE.
Consider this: Week 1—hope.
Those who walk through Advent season and acknowledge how the weeks guide us in a review of one’s belief, there is only one word that can add all these themes into one more–love.
Returning to the Oxford On-line Dictionary, the definitions of love, as a noun, helps us to understand the immensity of this final week’s theme:
1. An intense feeling of deep affection.
2. A great interest and pleasure in something.
3. A person or thing that one loves.
But it is the definition of loveas a verb that pulls all of Advent and Christmas together:
1. Feel deep affection . . . for
Once one experiences the three concepts introduced through Advent—hope, joy and peace—the need to act develops. There is energy that comes when there is hope, joy and peace that begs to be used and when loveis a verb, that energy becomes the force that gives the noun love.
The theme of love is repeated in so often in Advent studies and other devotions putting a new twist on it can be difficult, but as we have done the past weeks of Advent, review the origin of the word:
Old English lufu, of Germanic origin; from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit lubhyati ‘desires’, Latin libet ‘it is pleasing’, libido ‘desire’, also by leave and lief.
Interesting that all three different origins still contribute to the understanding of the fourth week’s theme of love. The verb love takes the noun and moves it into action.
Traditionally Christmas becomes a time when love is visible through the practice of giving gifts to family and friends. The action symbolizes the relationship that has developed between two individuals. The relationship has so many different faces:
- Spouse to spouse
- Parent to child
- Child to parent
- Friend to friend
- Work peer to work peer
- Cousin to cousin
- Grandparent to grandchild
- Brother to Sister/Brother
- Sister to Sister/Brother
And the list continues to grow.
Gift giving is a tangible way society has identified to express the intangible noun definition of love. No, the giving is not necessary, but it is a tangible way to say to someone how they fit into you life, how loved you are.
But gift giving is an event, the lovethat fills our hearts moves into action in so many ways. As an operating system, love fuels our lives to do for others, to give to others in all types of ways.
The verse so often referenced is I Corinthians 13:4-7:
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)
Even though this familiar reading is so often used in reference to weddings, think about how broad its scope really is if loveis translated into an action towards anybody. No one would have an enemy. No one would judge another person. No one would . . . I am sure you can fill in the blank.
This leads us right up to the end of another calendar year and the beginning of a new year. There is hope. There is joy. There is peace. And now there is love for one another.
During the coming year(s), move that hope, joy and peace into the energy to love others. Love them just as you want to be loved.
There is no better gift than to give love to others freely, with no strings attached. Christmas as a traditional celebration is a spot on the calendars of our lives that remind us how to loveby giving. But giving love is a verb that does not have a box around it with gift wrap and ribbons. Love, the verb, is a lifestyle of loving others regardless of any distinctive, identifiable quality. Loveis living life each and every day doing all that you can for all you can in any way you can at any times you can. Love, the verb, is a lifestyle that exudes hope, joy and peace.
Please join me in prayer:
Dear Loving God
the father, the son and the Holy Ghost,
Thank you for the greatest gift of love
you have given to each and every one.
You knew that we did not understand
how to love one another
so you joined us in the form of Jesus
to teach us how to love.
The prophets tried to prepare us over and over
keeping hope alive in the darkest of times.
The shepherds shared the news the joyously heard
from the angels right out in the open fields.
The wise men came and saw, too, giving gifts
leaving in peace not wanting to sound alarms.
Guide us to know that love is all that is needed
To live in this world,
To experience peace,
To be filled with joy,
To fuel us with hope
So we, too, may love one another as you love us.
In the name of you the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Common Lectionary Readings:
4thSunday of Advent: Micah 5:2-5a
Christmas Eve: Isaiah 9:2-7
Christmas Day Isaiah 52:7-10
Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12)
December 30 I Samuel 2:19-20, 26
December 31 Ecclesiastes 3:1-13