Love in the Unexpected | Advent Week Four
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son...From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” ——John 1:14, 16-17
In the fourth and final week of Advent, we meditate on love. We have been readily awaiting Jesus, rejoicing and placing our hope in the peace that he brings. And now, as we peer down into the manger, we see that love is at the heart of it all. The Word that is and always was has entered into our lives, showering us with ineffable adoration and compassion.
For all our preparation, the love made manifest through Christmas is unexpected. This love embraces weakness and powerlessness, uplifting teenage mothers and impoverished shepherds. Our limitless and magnificent God takes on the frailty and vulnerability of a human infant. This love is unfailing—almighty—but it extends to and includes the humble and lowly.
When we imagine the perfect gift is this what we envision? As we get ready for Christmas, do we feel compelled to hide away the messiness of our lives—to present a picture-perfect version of ourselves? The beauty of the love of Christ is that it is found even in the disarray of our lives. Available not only to the elite or the exalted but also to the modest and fallible. Love leads us into the restoration and renewal that is to come; it welcomes us into this rebirth as we are.
John reminds us that it was love that prompted the “gracious blessings” of God that we build our hope upon. Love drives God’s vision of peace, of Shalom, here on earth. Love moves us to shout for joy because we know that Jesus cares deeply, intimately, and unequivocally for us.
As we give thanks for the immeasurable love Jesus has for us, may we reflect this love to each other; “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35). May we uplift one another, support our communities, and show grace and compassion to all, even those we may perceive as enemies. When we reflect the love of Christ, we must be willing to love people in the face of their brokenness and imperfection, just as Jesus does.
Embracing love, allowing it to define who we are and how we live, is the very means for how we experience a beautiful, connected life. We are made in the image of God and God’s love is for us all. Let us look for and live out love in the unexpected places. Amen.
Words: Emma Tweitmann
Photography: Max Okhrimenko, Eberhard Grossgasteiger