According to tradition, the fourth candle/week of Advent, represents Love. This is the week which leads up to Christmas Day. You probably don’t need to do a lot of guessing as to why the fourth and final week of Advent focuses on love. Love, as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13, is the greatest of virtues.
But what about the Christmas story reminds us of love? Or, how should the Christmas story spur us on toward more love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)?
First, there’s the one which may appear to be more obvious. God’s love for us. This is shown by his exchanging heaven for earth in sending his Son, Jesus. Jesus embodied love in his teaching and actions. He showed us the high value of showing love for God from our hearts overflowing into action and attitudes – how are you growing in that, by the way? – He showed us the high value of loving our neighbors (and enemies) – how are you accomplishing these this holiday season? – He told us that the world would know God because of our love for one another (John 13:35). Jesus taught and exemplified God’s great love for us, his kids, and went to the cross.
A second place we see love show up in the Christmas narrative is in Mary’s love for God. Mary modeled a deep reverence, fear, and trust in God. This event didn’t just happen to her, it happened, in some sense, because of her. Look…
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” -Luke 1:28
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. -Luke 1:38
God looked into Mary’s heart and saw deep faith. There is something beautiful and visceral about Mary’s response. She loved God. She didn’t wait to understand or until things panned out. She simply stepped into the moment with trust, obedience, and loving expectation of the things God was doing in and through her. What do you think God is waiting to do in and through you in response to your deeper steps of trust and love for him?
The third thing you may notice in this story is Joseph’s love for Mary.
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. -Matthew 1:19
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. -Matthew 1:24
Here we notice Joseph’s obedience to the Lord and also his love for Mary. At the risk of family estrangement and social humiliation, Joseph moved forward in love. What God thought of him was a higher value than what others would think of him. How Mary experienced Joseph’s committed (not circumstantial) love was more important to him than acting on impulse. It’s a beautiful and messy example of neighborly love in response to love for God.
White Oak, in this next season of ministry, where is God calling you to love your neighbor like that? Here is a way you can immediately put this into practice:
Kentucky Disaster Relief Opportunity!
As we are all aware, many disaster relief drives have been set up across the nation to assist the businesses and families of western Kentucky hardest hit by last week’s storms.
There is an opportunity to donate needed supplies in Colerain Township this weekend! These supplies will benefit the Bowling Green area directly. There will be a semi parked at our fire station on Kemper Rd. this Saturday and Sunday. Here is what you need to know to help!
When: Saturday, December 18, 2021 – 5pm-8pm
Sunday, December 19, 2021 – 9am-2pm
Where: Colerain Fire Department-Station 109
2850 West Kemper Rd. Cincinnati, 45251
What: Bottled water, diapers baby formula, hats, cots, gloves, children’s clothing, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food items, blankets, hygiene supplies, batteries.
The semi will depart Colerain Township on Sunday afternoon and head directly to Bowling Green, Kentucky.
God loves you! Consider how God is calling you to respond to his love. We have urgent and messy things to accomplish in this next season. I need you and me to step into it with love.
Don’t forget to pre-register for Christmas Eve services and be sure you are inviting! You can find out more here.
Also don’t forget, we are not meeting in-person at either of our campuses Sunday, December 26. We have a very special online worship experience planned for you and your family going live at 9:00 am and on demand after that. Be sure to check out Facebook or Youtube.
Lead Pastor, White Oak Christian Church