Tag Archives: Advent

Advent – Week Four LOVE

My Advent Prayer: As I ponder the mystery of this last week of Advent, help me, O, Lord, connect more deeply with Your love for me and for every person whose story has, is, or will intersect mine.

     This final week of Advent, Ron and I lit the candle of LOVE. It joined the three previous candles, symbolizing Hope, Peace and Joy.

     If I were asked to describe God in only one word, I would choose LOVE.

     My favorite name for Jesus is Emmanuel—God with Us. One of the things I love most about the Gospels is that through the stories and words of Jesus, I see—in a way my humanity is able to comprehend—the love of God through the example of how Jesus did life in his humanity.

     A spiritual understanding of divine love is not a one-time event but an ongoing journey.

     In today’s post I’d like to highlight a Christmas hymn with which I wasn’t familiar until last year. I appreciate the profound simplicity of these lyrics written by Christina Rosetti (1830-1864).

Love Came Down at Christmas[1]

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the 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 to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

     In her poem, Love Came Down at Christmas, Christina personified LOVE as the babe born in a manger.

     No ordinary baby—this baby of whom angels sang—this baby whom shepherds and wisemen worshipped.

     This baby was the incarnation of God.

          Love coming down at Christmas took on human body and human nature.

               Love that came down at Christmas would travel through infancy, childhood, the teens, and young adulthood.

     Then, in only three short years of ministry, Love that came down would illustrate what God’s Love looks like.

     In his death and resurrection, Love who came down at Christmas built a bridge between God and humankind.

     You may be immersed in all the last-minute details of this lovely but hectic season. You may be asking, “How in the world can I get everything done? Or, as one overwhelmed young mom commented with a sigh, “I don’t even know if we’re going to have Christmas this year!”

     Won’t you, along with me, take a moment today out of the busyness to reflect on the amazing gift of the incarnation—LOVE that came down at Christmas?

God, bless us with a mere glimpse of the LOVE that came down at Christmas this final week of Advent.

Sue Reeve

 

  1. https://www.songandpraise.org

Hope Helps Me Hang On…

“Every day I put hope on the line.”

(attributed to Eugene Peterson)

     In Monday’s post, the first of Advent season, we recalled the hope of the nation of Israel. For hundreds of years, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah.

     The Jewish nation hoped and waited for a savior for a very long time. More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, foretold the Messiah’s birth,

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

     “Some scholars believe there are more than 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. These prophecies are specific enough that the mathematical probability of Jesus fulfilling even a handful of them, let alone all of them, is staggeringly improbable—if not impossible.[1]

     The ancient Christmas hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel summarizes beautifully the hope of many:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

     While the Jewish nation stumbled through many dark seasons, hope concerning the coming Messiah helped many hang on to their faith. Others lost or discounted the power of hope. They ignored the prophets’ words. Instead, they chose to listen to voices that led them into even deeper darkness.

     Hope is huge! Hope helps you and me hold on during dark days, or even long, dismal, seemingly hopeless seasons.

May hope be kindled in your heart this holy season of Advent…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html

Advent – Week One HOPE

As I enter through the gates of thanksgiving into the kingdom of Advent, reign in love on the throne of my heart… Amen

(Centering Prayers, Peter Traben Haas)

     Thanksgiving arrived late on the 2019 calendar. At our house, the Christmas tree was up and much of the house was already decorated on Thanksgiving Day. Because some family members will not be with us for Christmas, following dessert, we transitioned from Thanksgiving into a mini-Christmas celebration.

Back row: left to right: younger daughter, Sarah, her hubby, Brandon; son-in-law Jon and older daughter, Angie; my mom, Kathryn; second granddaughter, Mackenzie and boyfriend, Gavin; Sue, Ron. Front row: left to right: younger grandson, Reeve, youngest granddaughter, Emmi; Merci, our pooch, and Freddie, Angie & Jon’s dog, all decked out in their Christmas outfits. Missing: oldest granddaughter, Sydney and her boyfriend, Bryan, and older grandson, Jackson. Love, love, love, my people!!

     If you know me well, you know I love everything Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the scents of the season fill me with excitement—and, I admit, sometimes, exhaustion.

     In my non-liturgical faith tradition, little emphasis was placed on Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. A couple years ago, I downloaded an Advent devotional, which I read daily until December 25th.

     I loved this newfound dimension of Christmas and determined I’d delve more deeply into the sacred meaning of the holy season. Last year I created an Advent wreath for our home as well as blogged about each week’s Advent theme.

     During December 2019, I will be reprinting many of those posts in the Listening on the Journey… blog. Each week, the focus will be on a traditional theme of Advent:

     There are variations of the order in which each week is symbolized. This order may differ from the one you’re using. The weekly designations I’ll use are:

     Week One, symbolizing HOPE;

     Week Two, symbolizing PEACE;

     Week Three, symbolizing JOY;

     Week Four, symbolizing LOVE.

     On Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids will light a fifth, taller candle, symbolic of Jesus, the true reason for this lovely season.

     This first week of Advent reminds us of the long-hoped-for Messiah, the arrival of Emmanuel (also spelled Immanuel), through the mystery of the incarnation.

Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus. Strip away the season’s hustle and bustle, the trees, the cookies, the extra pounds, and what remains is a humble birth story and a simultaneously stunning reality — the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

This incarnation, God himself becoming human, is a glorious fact that is too often neglected, or forgotten, amidst all the gifts, get-togethers, pageants, and presents…[1]

     In Thursday’s post, I will focus further on the importance of the hope of Emmanuel. Until then,

Blessings as you ponder the mystery of the incarnation and the hope of Christmas…

Sue Reeve

  1. Joseph Scheumann, www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-truths-about-the-incarnation