What is Advent? Love!
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Different members of Rockland will be helping us maximize Advent this season in these emails. Today, Lori Fullmer helps us prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of Christ's birth!
The fourth Sunday in Advent is drawing close. This is the day when we light the candle of “Love”. It is this last week of advent which provides us an opportunity to reflect on the magnitude of God’s love expressed through Jesus. Without His love, there would be no Christmas story.
The fullness of God’s love descended from heaven on that first Christmas in the form of a sweet, innocent baby. That baby, Jesus Christ, God’s gift of love, arrived in the most unexpected way. He was born of a young virgin in the only remaining accommodations, the rustic outbuilding where animals were kept.
It is here in this moment that we see another important piece of the story. Mary’s love for Jesus. She wraps Him in swaddling clothes, then places Him in a manger. A feed trough made of wood, filled with rough scratchy hay serves as Jesus’ first bed. I can picture Mary intently looking at her son with a heart overflowing with a love like she’s never experienced before. We read of this love in Luke 2:19, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” A pure love that transcends from God through Mary.
Yet, the heart, the center, and the most important part of the Christmas story is God’s love for broken sinners, like us.
The angel’s announcement to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 presents a clear purpose for the child Mary is carrying: “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.”
God sends Jesus into the world an innocent child. Yet this baby grows into a man who walks among the people out of love; teaching, healing those who are sick or suffering from diseases, and preaching the good news of the kingdom.
Then Jesus, God’s perfect gift, is nailed to the cross. He endures death to serves as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Jesus willingly gave the gift of His life, all because of love.
As we enter this final week of Advent, may our hearts and minds turn towards the significance of the gift of God’s love that first Christmas.
“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NET)
As Linus said so accurately, “That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Kids and Connections Pastor
We now have 6 Christmas Eve services! Please join us at one of our beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve services as we celebrate God's gift to the world through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ! There are 4 on Christmas Eve (December 24th), and 2 on Christmas Eve Eve (December 23rd). You must sign up to attend or join us online at 4:30 on Christmas Eve!