Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul. These instructions are not things one can neatly wrap in pretty paper and tie with a bow.
Long-time friends (and now guest bloggers!) Tracy and Terry Moore wrote this invitation to Advent prayer to the Lumunos Prayer team, the group that intentionally prays monthly for persons in our network. It was so well said, we want to share it with you.
Advent, what an interesting season this is. As a child I don’t remember it being of much importance, in fact, I’m sure I didn’t even know this time of year had a particular name. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were strictly a time of waiting for Christmas morning and what gifts there might be under the tree – oh and of course a trip to the Hudson’s store downtown to see Santa. Strange, as I went to Sunday school regularly, one would think I would have gathered some information about Advent there.
That was long ago – now we have three Advent candle wreaths; two were gifts, one we purchased. The one we are using this year has a word written by each holder – Peace, Hope, Joy, Faith and Love. It feels comforting for me to sit with the idea each week represents. This week is Peace and in the midst of this weeks announcement that another large contingency of troops is being deployed, Peace for our world seems far, far away. This is not anything new for Christians and for our Hebrew ancestors. Peace most often seemed only a dream, a promise always waiting to be fulfilled. Next week is Hope and I am reminded of the Hebrew Testament stories of Hope – Hope for an heir; Hope to be freed from slavery; Hope to arrive safely in a new land; Hope for a Savior who would bring about Peace. Joy and Faith are still a couple of weeks away and I look forward to discerning what they mean for me this year.
Christmas Day brings Love and at first glance, this seems an easy one – family, friends, pets, and all those things we say we love – like ice cream and cake; chocolate; a favorite sports team; a game, like golf; our neighborhood, our community, our country. In our language and culture the word ‘love’ is thrown around like confetti at a parade. Yet for us who are to be Christ-like, Jesus taught us that Love means much more. Unconditional and abundant Love is what we are to strive for. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemy. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul. These instructions are not things one can neatly wrap in pretty paper and tie with a bow. They are not – nice and easy does it. The Baby whose birth we celebrate each December 25th represents those in our society, in all societies who are marginalized, homeless, outcasts and untouchable. The gift we are invited to accept is to LOVE all these, unconditionally and abundantly. In the person of Jesus we see how to live and love divinely. Though this is no small task, we believe it is the one thing that will someday, somehow, bring each of us to the heavenly place where there is always Peace, Hope, Joy, Faith and Love.