This is the final Reading that I have prepared for my Churchs' Advent Services. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging undertaking. I feel honoured to have been asked, but rewarded so richly as it has truly given me a greater understanding of the spiritual gifts of hope, peace, joy, and certainly the greatest of these: Love.
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-22
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about; His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, Because he will save His people from their sins.”
What is love? This word we use to describe feelings about our family and friends, a well-worn book upon the shelf, a treasured keepsake, or our favourite flavour of ice cream. We read about it, write long flowing odes to it, watch movies about it, and set aside one day a year, to celebrate it. Is this what it really means to love? For surely a new book, treasure, or flavour will be discovered one day. If this is love….why does it leave?
No wonder it is difficult for us to comprehend how wide, how long, how high and how deep is Gods’ love. Our actions suggest it is subject to change or certain conditions. Such love may cover us like a blanket; offering warmth, romance and security. But could it ever be big enough to cover all those hollow spaces?
God’s love moves like a river flowing through us. It goes over, under and through; getting in all those narrow gaps and shallow places we can never fill on our own. Love like this doesn’t just skim over the surface: it fills. It acts. Even knowing the price to be paid, it came down for the world to know; and stretching out its arms, showed us its full measure.
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