Love (Week 2 – Dec 6)
Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 53, Luke 2:1-7, 1 John 4:7-12, Revelation 11:15-19, 14:1-7
The promise of the coming Messiah, Savior and King, is woven throughout the biblical story. This promise is perceptible evidence of God’s love for humanity, “for God so loved the world.”
In the chaos and uncertainty of our reality, God’s love continues to lead forward. This love is our call, our anchor, and our certain guide. In the middle point of Advent, we pause to reflect on this reminder of God’s love for us and our call to love others in return.
Though Israel was caught in self-destruction and oppression that led to exile in a foreign land, God still showed faithful love for Israel by providing a way forward with the hope of the promise of a Messiah. Several instances in Isaiah this figure is seen as a servant, one who would come to bring justice, healing, and restore the covenant relationship of Israel with God. The Messiah’s service would be marked by humility and suffering, with the image of a lamb led to slaughter, imagery that is echoed in the picture of Jesus as the slain Lamb in Revelation.
The arrival of Jesus is a joyous, hopeful celebration of this love, the fulfillment of this long-held promise. From God’s perfect love, the very Son of God is born in humility, a servant of human flesh, living among his people, pointing them to the grace and mercy of God. The love of God is evident in the life of Jesus, always pointing toward the here but not yet kingdom, ministering to a hurting, marginalized and broken people. In Jesus’ death, resurrection and assurance of return, this ultimate act of love provides a new way forward toward the final and complete fulfillment of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.
As John is describing the various visions of judgements in Revelation, we are reminded of the way forward in our participation as God’s people in bringing about the kingdom. We are called to love by proclaiming and participating in, the sacrificial love of Jesus. John makes it clear that our participation does not preclude suffering, but out of love God does promise that the Lamb’s victory and promise of restoration extends to God’s people seen first through protection symbolized by the command of John to measure the temple (i.e. God’s people) and then by the resurrection of the two witnesses, killed as they proclaim the word of God. This results in repentance of many in the nations, revealing that the mission of God’s people is to show mercy and love to others by imitating the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb. We later see God’s people, again symbolized by the 144,000, participating in worship of God and proclaiming the “eternal gospel” to the nations.
In the darkness of waiting, of a future that feels precarious and unsure, God’s deep love for us provides a way forward, a way to navigate through the uncertainty, to live out the certain promise of the here, but not yet kingdom of God. We are invited to not only love God, but also to join in Jesus’ kingdom work with the exhortation to live out the truth of God’s love for us by generously loving others. We pass on our future hope of the culmination of the kingdom when our love points forward to the kingdom that his here through Jesus’ death, and resurrection.
To celebrate and honor God’s love we must accept the truth of God’s love into our lives, but also give it to others. This Advent we remember that we are part of God’s story of love that is for all people. We look back at the evidence of God’s love in the birth of Jesus. Because of God’s love we look forward in anticipation to the culmination of this love, when Jesus will return to complete the work of restoration and redemption that began with the death and resurrection of Jesus. We live out this truth in the present by extending God’s love to others. We recognize that we face a lot of challenges as we choose love. Yet we celebrate the power and depth of God’s love that enables us, in God’s strength, to point the way to Jesus through love.
Are their ways you see God’s love as a path forward in your life?
What areas of your life do you feel God inviting you in to participate in loving others?
Are you sensing any resistance or obstacles that are keeping you from accepting God’s love and loving others?
Identify 1 or 2 people you are sensing God is inviting you to reach out to this week to convey God’s love to them.
Father, Son, and Spirit I praise you for all the ways you love me. Your love is so great I cannot adequately understand the breadth of it. I thank you for the truth of the love you have shown me through the birth of Jesus, his death and resurrection. I thank you for the hope you have given in the promise of your return. I recognize how much I need the reminder of your love in my life. I acknowledge that it can be hard to always love others, but know you have called me to love my neighbors even when it is challenging. I pray you will give me eyes to see people in my everyday spaces who need your love. Show me how to love them in the power of your love. I pray that those I encounter this week will see the truth and depth of your love in me. May your love for me and in turn my love for other define my life. In your name, Amen.
Light the purple Hope, and Love candles.