Love is all you need – or so the song goes, right? From sappy chic flick movies to over-the-top seasons of the Bachelor, our minds and eyes and thoughts and hearts are filled with how love “should” look. Passionate kisses in the rain, angry fights in the rain, friends running towards each other in the rain after finally figuring out they loved each other. Seriously, what is it about rain that seems to make every scene that much more romantic?
But what happens when that love doesn’t pan out how it “should”? Or when our only perspective on love is found in The Holiday or The Notebook?
Craziness right? We become crazy when loved ones fail us, when spouses mess up, when our children don’t respond how we think they should – actually, it often feels like it’s the “shoulds” that screw us up the most. Something “should” look this way, act this way, respond this way, buy flowers this way…but they don’t always do that. And when we place our expectations of true love on those who are human or who have unrealistic expectations placed on them, well it becomes just that – unrealistic.
Can you extend me a little grace for a moment as I go totally cheesy? Because an advent love, love from God through Jesus, is one million times better and deeper and stronger than any feeble love Hollywood could promise us.
Throughout this month, we have been walking through the four themes of advent – hope, peace, joy and now love. Advent is a time of waiting, pausing and yearning for the Savior to come our world. It is a time within the Christian calendar to slow down – kind of ironic to have this season when the rest of the world is absolutely crazy, right? (My great friend Blair wrote a sweet blogpost about minimizing the crazy right now.)
The reality is that at any given time our world feels anything but loving or lovely. Whether it’s Aleppo or Flint, Michigan or our own broken families or natural disasters, the world is full of brokenness, hurt, and division.
What is remarkable to me is that even amidst this brokenness, Jesus came. The world 2,000 years ago was not much better than we are today – there was still genocide, great persecution, enslavement, and brokenness. And just as Jesus was born then, so he continues to come, to reach out, to meet us today.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
God did not create the world thousands of years ago, set it to spin, and then settle in for an iced tea and football game. He created the world, formed us out of dust, breathed His life into us. He saw (and sees) brokenness, pain, and sin. And He sent His Son, His only Son, into this world to be a profound example of love, of true love.
Jesus’ life is bookended with humble love. In humility, He came lovingly as a baby to grow up a carpenter’s son and learn the world around us. In humility, He willingly walked to the cross, crucified out of deep love for the world, so that all may come to know the profound hope, peace, joy and love that God freely offers.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 62:5 – 6
One of the reoccurring themes throughout this advent series is this: No matter our circumstances, no matter our past or future, no matter our pains or brokenness or sore spots, Jesus sees, heals and redeems. He came into this world to bring hope, peace, love and joy. Our circumstances may influence our emotions or actions, but at the core we can be unshakable because of who Jesus was and how His birth, life and death changed the course of history forever.
That’s true love! Jesus’ love changed history forever. Like, we literally count time differently because of His birth. And that, dear friends, is far better than any Christmas Hallmark movie or romantic reality show.
A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
(taken from the Book of Common Prayer)
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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