She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:21-23
The final Sunday in Advent is all about love. I wonder what you think of when you think about love? Is it your family? Friends? Church community? Romantic comedy movies? Fairy tales of princes and princesses? If I was to be honest, I think my view of love, off the bat, is a more fantastical one thanks to all of the films I’ve watched growing up! But upon deeper reflection, what do you consider to be love?
I can’t imagine the enormity of the love of God for us. Let’s tell ourselves the story of that love one more time:
God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) creates a world, pours out His joy and even His own image into this creation finishing with the crowning achievement – humanity. He rests, seeing it is very good. This doesn’t last though, as His greatest creation rebels against Him, fracturing forever that relationship and ushering brokenness, injustice, and evil into this very good creation. Does God turn His back? Not at all! He presses in, working to draw His creation back to Himself. No matter how far from Him the creation falls, no matter how marred the image becomes, He doesn’t give up! He calls a man, makes him into a great family, to be the catalyst for this reconciliation, and then when all this has not worked out, He decides to come Himself, to empty Himself and to enter the world as a human, as one of His creations.
The enormity of the weight on the shoulders of Jesus is something that I will forever find incomprehensible. The task to save the cosmos! What a massive responsibility to bear! But He chose to come, He chose to give up equality with the Father, and humbled Himself for us. Here we remember that His first coming, that Advent all those years ago, was the embodiment of true love. It is not simply an emotional reaction to something that happened, but rather a deliberate choice to give up one’s rights and privileges, to sacrifice oneself for others, to pour a life out in the service of others. That is what true love is, and that is what we celebrate today, that is the standard that we must live up to as well, in every area of our lives – marriage, friendships, children, parents, and even with those we disagree with – we are called to LOVE our enemies! If we did this, served, and sacrificed for our enemies, what a different place the world would be! How hard would it be to hold a grudge against someone if they served you, cared for you and put you first? What a revolution we would start! This is what God – in Christ – began when he came as a child in Bethlehem, and may we never forget that!