Do you know you are loved? No matter what your situation, no matter the things you might think you know, no matter what people tell you, God expresses His love. John, in 1 John 4:7-11 argues this point to those of us who might get confused, off-track or downcast (thinking we are not loved) ... "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other." While this is not a normal Advent passage, you see the expression of God's love in the person and advent of Jesus Christ. God "so loved the world" and His love is clear and personal.
One of my favorite Christmas experiences was during my first appointment at Prattville 1st UMC. I was "low man on the totem pole" and was assigned duties that the senior pastor didn't want to do. That year I was charged with going to the United Methodist Children's Home in Selma, Alabama (we will have an offering for them on Christmas Eve) to deliver gifts and supplies we had collected. One of our youth, a troubled young girl from a broken home, went along to help. When we arrived we unloaded the supplies and were talking with the director when we heard a wailing cry from one of the rooms. My inclination was to let the people at the Children's Home deal with the problem, but the young girl with me went without hesitation to the room and found one of the children in a closet, crying out of fear, loneliness and despair. My young friend did something I will never forget. She didn't talk the child out of the closet. She didn't really say all that much. She got into the closet with the child and held her hand, letting her know she was there and to not be fearful. In about 10min. two young girls walked out of the closet, talking about life and all the things little girls talk about.
That event re-taught me about what Christmas was about. Not the stuff we carried over in the church van, but the love that we brought. How Jesus came down, got into my closet full of fear and bad thoughts, held my hand and talked to me about the stories of life. If I hadn't seen this happen before my eyes, I would have thought it was a parable. But I was reminded that this event, like that first coming of Jesus, was the reality of life and love that we hold in these broken vessels of clay. Paul said, "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like
fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear
that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (2 Cor. 4:7)." It is a beautiful thing when this light of God's love shines out ... in a closet in Selma, Alabama or in an office, church, home or restaurant in the Wiregrass. Yes ... love comes from God and we are the ones who can allow God to send out His love in us. I am thankful and blessed! Randy