Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent 2012: Love

This year, we are looking at the traditional themes of Advent: Hope, Joy, Love, and Peace. However, to prove once again my imperfection, I accidentally switched the weeks of Joy and Love. Traditionally, Love is the third week of Advent instead of the second, but I'm a rebel like that, so we're going ahead with the second week of our Advent: Love. Our verse for this entire Advent season is: 
"Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." from Matthew 24:42.
Our reading for this week is from Psalm 13:

 “1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
                    _  _  _  _  _  _  _ 
But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.”

Because the Lord has been good to me,
I will sing His praises.

My heart rejoices in your salvation.
I trust in your unfailing love.

When I was in college, I went through a time of being really disillusioned and disappointed and angry with God. I was out from under the shelter of my parents’ faith and trying to figure out why it seemed the world was such an ugly place to live. Did God really love everyone? It didn’t seem like it. Why did so much evil happen in the world? Was God really going to hide His face forever? The enemy of my soul had triumphed over me for so long that I was trying to switch sides. I wasn’t asking God “How long?” anymore; that seemed too childish. I had moved past that to anger that He hadn’t showed up yet, that He didn’t love as well as I’d hoped, and that injustice seemed to rule the day. I wasn’t looking for Him anymore. I was done with waiting.
So often in life, we find what we’re looking for. I was looking for reasons to blame God for everything wrong. And I found them. I was looking for hate in the world. And I found it. I was looking for hypocrisy in the church. Yes. There it was. I found what I was looking for. I wasn’t really looking for love in the world, but at the same time, I was angry that I wasn’t finding it.
But, happily, Someone Else was doing some looking, too. That Person was named Love. He had always been there, even though I wasn’t really trying and couldn’t see Him. He had been a good listener to all of my angry outbursts during my times alone with Him, and just so I could see it, he put on the flesh of friends in my life to show me His heart towards me. One night, after hours of listening to me accuse God of being unloving, one of them said, “Lezlie, if love doesn’t exist, then what are we doing here?” And so Love had found me.
We can trust in God’s unfailing love. We rely on it. Even when we are fumbling around in the darkness, we can trust that God will find us. This time of year especially, we remember how he put on the flesh of a Friend so we could all see just how far Love will go to pursue us.
I’ve asked the little children of our church to share with us, because the truth of this morning is simple and we should never try to outgrow it: God is Love. We look for Jesus as little children – trusting He is there – or we don’t find Him at all. In this season of Advent, let us set aside the troubles we’ve encountered as we’ve grown older. Not that those troubles aren’t real; they just aren’t as eternal as God’s Love. Let us focus instead on the Light of the World making his Love known to us. “Keep watch, therefore, because you do not know when the Lord will come.”
Today, we can praise God even now because of his Love that never fails. We may fail, but God’s love is perfect. Praise Him, because He is love, though others are not. Praise Him, because He is love no matter whatever else may happen.

The Bible says, “Seek and you will find.” Look around you, because God is everywhere. Look around you, because even though we may live in dark times, God has us living where we do “so that [we] would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’” We are swimming in Love. Look around you and take hope, because God is Love! His love will not fail.

Look around you, because God’s love is still in the business of taking on flesh. If you can’t see Love around you, pray that you will have Him in you.
For those who look – and even, perhaps, for some of us who don’t – we will see Him coming! He is coming for us! Through faith, we can even see it now. See Him coming! There He is – and there – and here. We can all look back or around or ahead and see Love’s presence showing up in our lives. He has not left us. He is here with us now. He will come and rescue us. See Him coming! God is Love!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19

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