Because God first loved us
By Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div.‘14)
As we begin this Advent season, I find myself thinking quite a bit about love. This is the time of year when we intentionally focus on the greatest of all forms of love, the physical embodiment of God’s Love in Christ. We find ourselves both anxiously awaiting Love’s arrival while celebrating Love in our midst.
I have been encouraged by Love quite a bit recently. I have found Love in places that I did not necessarily expect.
Just over a month after beginning my current Call, I found myself telling a group of middle school youth “Behave! I love y’all.” I didn’t know all of their names yet, but as I sent them off to their cabins for bed at the presbytery-wide retreat, the words just spilled out. The next day a youth asked me why I said that and I wasn’t sure how to answer other than, “It was what needed to be said.” For some, that might have been the only time that day someone said those words. For others, those words might have been the encouragement needed to face a scary first weekend away from home. For all, I hope it was encouragement that even though I didn’t yet know their names, they held a special place in my heart already.
Last week at the close of our Advent Fair, a mother from one of our ministries came up to me as we prepared to leave. She embraced me in a hug, thanked me for eating dinner with her and her children, and told me she loved me. I knew only her name and her children’s Christmas wish list, but those words built a bridge that will forever connect us. I pray I see her again, but there is no guarantee. In that moment, however, we were family and an incredible love was shared.
I think on these and so many other moments in my ministry and I find myself sitting in awe at the power of God’s Love. I find myself craving that Love and anxiously awaiting another moment to share that Love. I find myself gazing at my nativity set pondering that powerful Love that sent Christ to us; the powerful Love that embraced our needs, desires, and faults all at once and answered our every prayer with the ultimate Love.
This season, we await so much more than a baby boy. We long for so much more than a day of celebrations. We await a beautiful, sacrificial, forgiving, life-altering Love that can only come from God. We celebrate a Love that has already been shared with us despite our misgivings and has been taught to us despite our hard-headedness. We strive to share a Love that we can barely begin to comprehend, yet we crave so deeply in the midst of a darkened and struggling world. We long for a Love embodied that will change our world, bringing Light and Peace with it once again.
Looking at my decorations, I let my gaze settle on a figurine of Santa kneeling at the manger and I am reminded of the many forms this Love can take. I am reminded of our call to share that Love with all who we meet. I see that Love embodied in two different ways and wonder where my place is in this scene… and it seems to me that it just might be shouting through that screened-in cabin porch to a group of youth who I don’t yet know or embracing the woman who I might never see again. I linger on that figurine and I know the answer to that youth’s question…
I told you I love you because God loves you. I told you I love you because God loves me. I told you I love you because that is what I heard Christ say. I told you I love you because that is exactly what I am called to do.
In this season of Advent, I pray that we can find these precious moments to see and celebrate the Love that we both find ourselves waiting for and the Love that we see all around us. I pray that we will embrace that Love and shout that Love so that we no longer find ourselves waiting for Christ and instead see and celebrate Christ among us.
In this season of Advent, where in your congregations do you find God’s Love embodied as you await the birth of our Savior?