The 1st Sunday of Advent was December 2nd. I’m late. I know.
This year we’re celebrating Love for the First Sunday of Advent. You may have heard of the saying, “God is Love.” Indeed, reference 1 John 4. But what exactly is that supposed to mean? In English, the word ‘love’ has a variety of applications which can run from the erotic to gastronomical. I ‘love’ green chile cheeseburgers, for instance. Not to worry, though, because we have the Word of God to explain this to us.
In Romans 5 we are told of the depths of love which was expressed for us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:6-11 ESV)
And in the well known John 3:16 passage we are explicitly told of God’s love for mankind as well as the implications of such love. Hence we celebrate the Advent of Love, a pre-existing love, which by its very nature, cannot have existed in a singular state – for who would God have to love?
One admonition I’d like to leave you with is that as you reflect on the Love of God, particularly in the Advent of the Incarnate Jesus, don’t make the mistake of trivializing said love by over-personalizing the concept. While God loves each and every one of us, the phrase “For God so loved the world…” should not be translated “For God so loved ME…” In our self-centered culture, that’s an easy trap to fall into. I recently heard an evangelist prompt the audience he was speaking to to repeat the phrase, “Jesus was born, just for me.” Besides being wrong on so many levels, such a phrase only serves to reinforce the individualistic mentality so prevalent in society. Remember Romans 5:8, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:8-14 ESV)