This is my fourth and final Advent post. We've prepared our hearts to welcome Christ with hope, peace, joy, and now with love.
What is love? Such a big question! Poets and philosophers and theologians have tried to answer it, but their attempts seem somehow inadequate, don't they?
The Apostle Paul makes a valiant effort to define love in 1 Corinthians 13 when he writes, "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
Hmmm. Somehow, even Paul can't nail this thing down satisfactorily. I suspect love is just too big, too much for words to define. I can't say what love is, but I know it when I see it.
I know love when my husband rubs my shoulders that are so very tight with the stresses of the day and when I rub his shaved noggin as he goes to sleep at night.
I know love when people pray for me and when I pray for them.
I know love when my mom listens while I talk myself off a metaphorical ledge and when I listen while she talks herself off one, too.
I know love when someone trusts me with their pain and when I trust someone with mine.
I know love when a friend sends me an email with a link she knows I'll enjoy and when I send a link to a friend.
I know love with every hug and handshake and smile.
I know love a million times a day, a give-and-take love that feeds me and others with kindness.
But sometimes love comes in ways that I don't deserve, can't repay, or can't help.
I know love when Jack's teacher tells me he needs more one-on-one time with her and asks if she can keep him after school for at least an hour each day. She brings skills, knowledge, and instincts to educating Jack that I could never provide for him.
I know love when the hard work and wonderful gifts of the musically talented in our church bless the worship service with heavenly voices and instruments. Trust me. No one wants to hear me sing.
I know love when professionals who are good at what they do bless me with their talents...from the plumber to the banker to the auto mechanic to the physician to the x-ray technician to the barista at Starbucks.
I know love when soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines serve my country and protect my freedom, and when any person or organization anywhere does anything to further freedoms for all.
I know love when police, firefighters, and emergency responders do their jobs...any time, any place.
I know love at Christmas when we celebrate how Love came down to live and walk among us, live with us, die for us.
Jesus came into a world where people had forgotten the most important lesson of God. He came into a world where priests walked past broken and beaten people lying on the side of the road without touching them because they had to stay ritually "clean." He came into a world where the poor sat starving outside mansions full of over-fed guests. He came into a world where kings committed injustice to preserve their power at all costs. He came into a world that had forgotten spiritual things are more important than material things.
He came to teach us how to love...to love God and to love each other as we love ourselves. And He came to love us, undeserving and ungrateful as we often are, with a perfect, gracious, merciful love, bigger than anything we can even imagine.
Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift.
Food for thought...and feel free to share in the comments! How do you know love? How do you show love? How do you experience Christ's love today?