"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV) John 3:16
It is hard to believe that this is the last Sunday of Advent and that Christmas Eve is just a few short days away. How have your preparations been coming along? Today was "wrapping" day and I'm happy to say that we are all done!! Yet, the gifts have been abundant this Advent well before the day of Jesus' birth.
It has been a difficult four weeks. As I mentioned earlier, the chaos of Christmas was in full gear. Yet, also in full gear were the wonderful "love blessings" I received throughout the chaos. There were words of encouragement, to me and from me. I don't know about you, but many times, when I try to share encouragement, I believe "I" am the one that is more blessed. Whether it be words written down or spoken, all of them have had great meaning. Then there were the moments of peace and praise at church during this Advent - times when the Holy Spirit truly touched my heart and I could feel Jesus' love.
God shared His son with us - the people he loved so much. He knew, from before creation, that we were going to need a savior. Someone who would save us from ourselves. Someone who would care for us. Someone who would love us dearly. Someone who would die for us. The love chain of Jesus is so incredible to view. Please take a journey with me . . . .
God loved us so much he sent the angel Gabriel to speak with Mary. Mary loved God so much she took on the role of Jesus' mother - unconditionally. She never said, "Let me think about it," like Jonah did. She loved her Lord and would do anything for Him, that's real love. Joseph loved Mary and his Lord so much that when he had an opportunity to walk away, he didn't. Despite ridicule, Joseph stayed with Mary, and became Jesus' earthly father. Moving forward, Jesus' disciples stayed with him during his ministry - and saw blessings beyond comprehension. Jesus loved Mary Magdalene so much that he stopped the behavior she was enduring and showed compassion and love to her. In return, Mary followed him through his ministry as well. I know, there are so many more examples of the love chain that I could write a novel. Yet, there is one more link that has to be shared.
The greatest example of love comes from our Jesus - our savior. His love is so great for all mankind that he was born in the most humble manner, a lowly manger. That first Christmas had Jesus not joining this earthly world in the comfort of a palace but in the discomfort of a stable. Yet, his love was so great that he came - for you and for me. His love is so great for all mankind that he died the most humiliating death, so that we might live with him in paradise. Such love, to us, is incomprehensible. Yet, he did so with you and me and billions of others on his mind - so that we could experience the freedom from sin, and the warmth of his love.
His love is so great for all mankind that he will come again, this time in glory. What a glorious day that will be. His love is with us each and every day. We have been blessed with the Holy Spirit, who takes residence in our hearts, and continues to help us understand God's love. We see this love in the faces of family, friends and even strangers. We feel this love in each touch. We hear this love from the lips of those around us. We read of this love in God's word. His love is all around us - blessing us, reaching us, showing us that the chain of love cannot be broken. Experience God's love - give the gift of love to those around you.
This Advent we shared the gifts of the Advent Candles: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. I pray that this Christmas you experience all four of God's gifts in abundance. I pray that the humbleness of our Lord is shared by you each day. I pray that your faith in God brings you the hope, peace, joy and love that only Jesus can bring. May you all have a very Merry Christmas.