Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas Love

Today the last purple candle in the Advent wreath is lit representing love. Love adds to the message of hope, peace and joy.  As the candle shines out, the lectionary invites us to read the beginning of the Christmas story. It is the story of love.

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
 (Charles Wesley: First Seen 1747)

Those two lines sum up the Christmas message. It’s all about love.  The text (Matthew 1:18-25) is just seven short verses explaining how the infant was conceived. It doesn’t really matter how one interprets the details. I know there are differing understandings. Details simply make a story exciting and readable. It is the core truth conveyed therein that is important. So, today, I want to ponder that core truth. For me it is about love — divine love and human love. What can be better?

This story of love is so important that it restarts time. Hope, peace and joy are redefined. Everything changes because of this one story. 

As always, I want to consider how this story of love affects me. Obviously, there are many outward aspects of the celebration of the Christmas story. I have up my Christmas tree, I have decorated the house, I am displaying my Christmas cards from old and new friends, I am listening to Christmas music, I have purchased Christmas gifts for friends and family, I have my Christmas pudding, I am planning our Christmas lunch. I love doing all these things. 

I’m sure many others have similar Christmas traditions. Traditions are very important. They build stability and continuity for the next generation. Traditions demonstrate the cyclic nature of life — the ebb and flow of seasons.

Christmas traditions keep the story of divine and human love alive. And it is not just by the outward signs but by a deep inner working of love. As in this story love is often manifest in giving, of ourselves and of our possessions. Often social media portrays a negative view of society, but this week it has been full of an outpouring of love. People sharing needs, and others responding to the need. Clothes, food and shelter being provided for the homeless, shelters trying to get homes for their animals for Christmas, money being raised for a whole variety of charities. It is love being spread around. The message of that first Christmas — love made manifest — is still very much alive over 2,000 years later. 

So, as we ponder love, I close with the words of a well-known Christmas song that has been recorded many times by many different artist —

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes
Love is all around me and so the feeling grows
It's written on the wind, it's everywhere I go
So if you really love me, come on and let it show
Come on and let it show
Come on and let it show
Come on and let it show
(Reg Presley, 1967)