Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning “arrival,” is the four – week period prior to Christmas Day when we watch, behold, prepare, and rejoice in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The past year has been seen the increase of world-wide anxiety, stress, hopelessness. We need the Advent focus on hope, joy, peace, and love more than ever. I pray that these devotionals, posted on the four Mondays before Christmas, will help us all focus the arrival of Jesus among us, the proof of God’s love and care for each of us.
THE ARRIVAL OF LOVE
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).
I had a powerful dream a few weeks ago. I had been asked to teach a class at a church but given no instructions about who or what I was teaching. When I arrived at the appointed time, I learned that although no one had organized the program, dozens of people had gathered outside waiting for me to teach. I was frustrated because I had no prepared teaching plan. When I faced the crowd, I could only think of one thing to say: “God loves you. If you ever question that, read Zephaniah 3:17 which tells us that God takes delight in us and rejoices over us with singing!”
Suddenly I was wide awake. As I mulled over the dream for a few minutes, I noticed sunshine peeking through the blinds. November had been a rainy and dismal month, so I gleefully jumped out of bed and opened the blind. I was greeted by cloudless blue sky lit up by a brilliant sun. Without thought, I raised my hands and said, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
I had been pondering this Advent devotional on love for weeks. I suddenly realized: This is the only lesson we need in an Advent devotional about love! God loves us as a parent loves a child and because of that love, blessings flow all around us. We just need the eyes to see them. And our natural response to God’s act of grace is gratitude and awe.
Before that dream, I had been lying awake for an hour. Giving up on sleep, I turned on the radio to listen to BBC. A heart-broken reporter was describing the misery of the inhabitants of the city of Aleppo in Syria. Another bombing raid had laid waste another area of civilian homes. Parents had grabbed their children out of bed and scrambled out of the city, hoping to find safety in a crowded refugee camp. The camp was running out of food, water and medical equipment, especially the size used to treat children. Children were maimed by IEDs as well as the bombing. They were starving. They were terrified. And those who were there to help them were desperate.
God sings over these children, too – and their parents and grandparents. The “world” does not care about these refugees; the only impetus to help them comes from hearts filled with love. And our hearts are filled with love because God first loved us. He implanted the spark of love in us when we were created. However, it is quickly and repeatedly doused by selfishness and our need for control.
But love arrives again with the birth of Christ. Our grateful response must be to love others the way we are loved.