During Advent we will be focusing on the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that Jesus brings when He “arrives” in our life. Each week we will have a devotion from someone in our church body to help encourage you along the way. This week’s devotion is written by Sherry Maddock.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
As I think about my life’s work in mission over the last 20 years, I can say that the driving belief behind it is this – God loves this world, not as it should be, but as it is. The story of Jesus’ life begins and ends with God’s love for the world. This love is like no other force in the universe – God so loved the world that he sent his only Son. This love of God’s is compelling – literally creating and putting life in motion. It is also sacrificial and tireless. It is without boundaries and wholly unconditional. This is the love that repairs relationships, restores families, heals pain, recovers what is lost, makes things out of nothing and changes the world. This is the love that captured me years ago and has never failed me.
During this Advent season, I am meditating on two aspects of love: vulnerability and proximity. Love, as a reality in the coming of the infant Jesus, is first and foremost vulnerable. The Saviour of the world does not come in power and invincibility. This little One with soft skin and no way of protecting himself enters the world at a dark time and in a dangerous place. And not only that, this new family fled as refugees, carrying him across a border to an unfamiliar place to escape harm and danger. Secondly, according to the nativity story, God’s love is love that come close. We say and sing Emmanuel each Christmastime – literally, “God with us.” Not “God cheering for us from the sidelines.” Not “God sending some of his most trusted emissaries to check in on how we are coping with life.” This is God actually drawing so near as to belong to a family, breathe Middle Eastern air, taste bread and drink well-water, walk dusty roads, and sit and visit with people like you and me.
In Jesus, God reveals to us an enfleshed love – avulnerable and close love. While I long for Christmas morning, my thoughts and prayers are focused on how I can manifest this same kind of love for my neighbours and the people God sends into my life. This transforming force of love is at work right now, nearby, in us.