Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Season of Waiting: Week 4 - Where It All Starts

Christmas is just around the corner and I haven't been near a mall - and I don't even care! But I feel so laden with good things in what I've learnt and been given over the past few weeks that I honestly don't need anything from any shop to make this a wonderful Christmas. 

It was my beautiful Krista who set me on the journey for Advent this year, with an email asking if I would do a spot of proofreading for the truly worshipful Advent booklet she created for church. It is her assignment of subjects I have followed, and I have derived such richness and insight from pondering the readings and praying the prayers.

I have in this month received the following gifts:

Hope - because the One in whom we hope can see the end from the beginning
Peace - when activity swirls all around me
Joy - from appreciating the motivation behind the kindnesses shown me

And now we come back to the beginning. None of this would have been possible without examining the motivation behind the whole Christmas story.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

It all started with love.

Dad spoke of this at our last Tuesday gathering at the Manor. He said that Christmas is first and foremost about God's love. Behind the incarnation - the Nativity scene, God coming down in flesh as a little baby and spending His first night in a manger - is God's love.

The other John 3:16 - this time, I John 3:16 - written probably about 90 years after the night of Jesus' birth, says this:

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us ..."

Despite all that we do that falls short, all that we are that is not great, God loved us enough to be born as one of us and enough also to die for us. As Dad put it, "God's love that cannot change, cannot cease, cannot be measured, gave us His very best - His only Son."

We have hope because of this love.
We have peace because of this love.
We have joy because of this love.

Is it any wonder that the poet who wrote the great "love chapter" of the Bible, I Corinthians 13, said with such conviction that he could be an eloquent speaker, he could be a prophet and a philosopher, he could have enormous faith, he could be a great philanthropist, he could even become a martyr ... but all of it would be absolutely pointless, absolutely worthless, if it were not motivated by love.

Dad remarked, "We well know a gift is often measured in worth by the spirit behind the giving of the gift."

So at Christmas, when I open my presents and I eat the delicious meal and I spend time with those I love the most in this world, I want to be ever conscious of the love behind every gift, every gesture.

And I want to be sure not to lose sight that all of it - no matter how wonderful - would be absolutely pointless, absolutely worthless, if it were not for the love of God for me.

The greatest of these truly is love.

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