Love is …?

Last Sunday, our preacher Stuart, asked us all a question, “What are you expecting this Christmas?” My immediate response, this year, would have to be the arrival of a new grandchild with our daughter, Beth, due to give birth any day now. (STOP PRESS: SHOLTO EZRA WAS BORN LAST FRIDAY!) This sense of expectancy has certainly helped to reinforce the meaning of Advent for me, helping me to focus on celebrating the birth of Jesus and also increasing my anticipation of the promised return of Jesus the King. Christmas brings a whole range of different expectations as people look forward to this one day; many will expect presents, or gatherings with family and friends, or even gaining a few pounds, or laughter. There are those who will also expect grief or sadness right in the midst of joy and celebration. The wise men and shepherds who visited the stable in Bethlehem on that first Christmas certainly expected to find a baby but I doubt if they fully appreciated the significance of this event or fully understood the impact this birth would have for the future of mankind. Christmas is about love, a love which transcends time. Jesus, Son of God humbled himself, becoming vulnerable in every sense to become one of us. Love came down at Christmas and its full meaning is found in the message of Christmas, John 3 v 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The challenge for us this Christmas is whether we too misunderstand its message of love and fail to grasp the good news gift that we have in our possession. As we direct our thoughts to Christmas, what then should we do with this love which has come down, what difference does it make to our lives? 1 Cor. 13 v 4 “Love is……..kind.” Augustine of Hippo, the great theologian of the 4th century became a Christian after encountering Bishop Ambrose of Milan, a superstar preacher of the gospel, and yet it wasn’t his skill with words that brought Augustine to Jesus. This is what he later wrote, “But at first it was not because he was a teacher of the truth………..It was because he was kind to me personally.” The truth is that it isn’t brain power that draws people to Jesus. It is in the way we reveal Jesus through our lives and Augustine had caught just such a glimpse of Jesus reflected in the good bishop. Let’s pray this Christmas that God would give us all opportunities to reveal something of the love He has shown us through acts of kindness that might just help someone on their journey to asking Jesus in to their lives. Bryan