Today’s Word: ‘LOVE’ as in… Love is going to change you this Christmas. That’s the gift!
While I’ve always tried to draw an imaginary line between Advent as the “Season of Love” and Christmas as the “Season of Gift,” it’s difficult for me not to blur them into one big season of “Love/Gift.” How very binary of me, right?
Advent is the “Season of Love” –
The season of love that encourages us to think more about others than ourselves; the season of love that motivates us to consider how we might enrich the lives of others; the season of love that moves us to offer gifts of love with a little surprise added.
In chapter 2 of Luke’s gospel, Mary’s Magnificat captures the essence of the gift of God’s love in Christ with these words:
My soul sings in gratitude. I’m dancing in the mystery of God. The light of the Holy One is within me and I am blessed, so truly blessed. This goes deeper than human thinking. I am filled with awe at Love whose only condition is to be received…It’s the Love that we are made for, the reason for our being. It fills our inmost heart space and brings to birth in us, the Holy One.”
Christmas is the “Season of Gift” –
The season of unwrapping the gift of God in Christ; the season of discovering the extravagant lengths to which God is willing to go to show us amazing grace and awesome love; the season of opening ourselves up to the radical nature of “the Word becoming flesh and blood, and moving into the neighborhood.”
Both Advent and Christmas are filled with wondrous gifts. But a gift isn’t something we get for ourselves; that’s called a purchase. A gift is an act of love that is shared with others. That’s called a sacrifice. And yet, a gift of sacrificial love for someone else is going to demand that we give something up. We give up part of ourselves to make room for the gift that love creates.
Love is costly
In my family we often to those beautiful moments when we’re sure we can’t possibly love each other any more than we do at that moment as “knowing high cost of loving so deeply.” Love is costly. When we go all-out for the sake of love, some will think we’re nuts to give of ourselves so unconditionally, so extravagantly without any expectation of something in return. And yet, there’s a gift in that.
Love is painful
There will be times when we want to quit. There will be times when we look in the mirror at ourselves and think “You don’t have it, you never did. It’s not going to work. You’re an imposter. Go back to bed.” And yet, there’s a gift in that.
Love is inspirational
Love is what happens when the Spirit breathes into us – literally “inspires” us to do what we do for the sake of love. When we feel as if we’re nearly out of oxygen, can’t go one more step, Spirit blows in us, through us, reminding us that every breath is a gift.
Love is healing
When we give ourselves away – when the love of God in Christ is birthed through us into the lives of others, birth happens, new life happens. Others “come back to life” when we embody the love and grace, the compassion and mercy that God breathes through us to others.
Love is transformational
Love changes things. Love changes the world. Love changes others. Love changes us. Love changed everything when Jesus, the Bread of Life was born in Bethlehem – literally, the “House of Bread.” Bread becomes the gift of food that God provides out of love for all humankind, so that we, in turn may partner with God in that love for one another.
For thousands of years and for millions of people, the gift of Advent/Christmas love continues to change everything one moment at a time, one person at a time, one gift at a time.
Love is going to change you this Christmas. That’s the gift!