When I was eight years old, I gave my heart to Christ, a direct encounter with God’s love. I’m not sure I understood this love as much as I simply took for granted that God loved me, just as my parents did. Years later, my college roommate and one of my dearest friends, in an act of sadness, took her own life. This event marked the first time I truly doubted God’s love and presence. How could such a talented and beautiful Christian woman arrive at this dark place? I could not understand God’s silence, or His distance. I could not understand what I perceived to be His lack of love. The death of my beloved friend shattered an ‘innocent’ and unrealistic view I held of God’s love – a bubble-wrap type love that would keep terrible events and true pain away.
Eventually, I met and married Brad, and a clearer picture of God’s love began to form. Brad loves me (and I love him) with an intensity and consistency that is demonstrated through action. Some of these acts are small – he washes the dishes before going to work because he knows I hate to wash them, for example. Other acts are large, like the two weeks he slept on the floor beside my hospital bed when I became ill. We love each other despite the fact that we are intimately aware of each other’s faults and bad decisions. We love each other even when we don’t feel like it. We depend upon this love, we trust it and we count on it.
However, the picture of God’s love for me did not become complete until Maggie first moved inside me. That day I felt a love so powerful, so terrifying, that it scared me. When she was born, I remember a wave of sadness because I could no longer hold her inside me – safe from the world. This mother’s love brought home to me the burden of God’s sacrifice, the pain He felt the moment Jesus left His side to become flesh. We focus on Jesus’ death on the cross as the moment God hurt, but I suspect God’s parental pain began the moment Jesus came down to earth; when Love came down at Christmastime.
Frankly, I don’t know that I could give Maggie up for humanity. Look at us! We are terrible. We are selfish, violent and miserable. What horrific things we do to each other! Even so, despite knowing all of our faults, despite all of our bad decisions and ugliness, God loves us. He loves us passionately, unconditionally, and forever. He loves us so much that He gave up His only Son and allowed that Son to live a life of poverty, of humanness. He loves us so much that He gave us His son as a sacrifice – in payment for us. An unbelievable cost, a price I dare say few of us would be willing to pay. And so this week we light the candle of LOVE – symbolizing God’s great gift of His love for us. Accept this gift. Let God’s love for all of humanity shine through your thoughts, your writings and most importantly, your actions.
Love Came Down at Christmastime
Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely; Love Divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave sign
Worship we the Godhead
Love Incarnate, Love Divine
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign