The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8 CEB
God is love. Wow, what a wonderful reminder for this time of anticipating the Christ Child’s birth!
Sometimes I look at my children and feel an overwhelming love between us, it’s an amazing feeling. I wonder what Mary felt when she looked at Jesus the first time. I wonder if her feelings of being overwhelmed by the love of this tiny baby in her arms was the same as mine or intensified by the fact that this child WAS love, in the flesh.
Christmas has become a time in which love is equated with the number of gifts under the tree and dollars spent on said gifts. Let’s take some time today to remember that love has walked among us on this earth. That God loved us so much He sent His Son in the form of a tiny baby. That Jesus is love and will provide an example of how to love one another as God intends us to. What a wonderful Christmas gift!
Loving God, open my eyes to see love in this world, to act in love as you taught us and accept the love you freely give to us. Help me to shed the scales from eyes and see the true miracle of love this Christmas and know, without a doubt, that the gift of love is the only thing I truly need. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories I returned to work after a wonderful vacation visiting family. As I look through my email, I quickly piece together that while I was away, one of my patients died. This patient chose to go home and respect the life she had left. She was old enough to make decisions and she was educated enough to know what each option meant. For her, death was not the worst thing in the world. She returned home and thrived in the short term, and then her body began to shut down. Doctors wanted her to return so they could attempt a radical treatment, the same treatment she refused a few months earlier due to the agony and suffering attached. My patient was able to identify what she needed; family to be present and medicines to help with pain. She died peacefully, surrounded by love.
Our culture fears death and, as a society, we do everything in our power to avoid death. It would be frowned upon to give burial preparations as a baby shower gift yet that might have been exactly what one of the Wise Men did. In the time of Jesus, myrrh was mixed with aloes and anointed as part of the burial ritual. Life is limited and the next day on this earth is not guaranteed, even Jesus experienced death. Can we turn away from the fear of death and embrace our life as a complete beginning, middle and end? Can we respect one another enough to embrace each moment of life, even the last moment?
—Loving God, thank you for each moment, from the first breath of life to the last. Help me respect the entirety of lifetime and provide strength when life becomes difficult. When fear starts to take hold, I pray for peace and comfort. When I am gone and my loved ones are grieving, God, breathe life into my memories. Do not let my end become their end. Amen.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. Matthew 2:1 CEB
“Man down! Man down,” my son exclaims entering the living room. “Wiseman again,” I ask? “Of course, Mom. Those guys are too close to the edge.”
He refers to the nativity scene on the fireplace mantle. Our family favorite among the collection of crèches we bring out each Advent is a modern Scandinavian rendition of the Nativity. Like Flat Stanleys jigsawed from smoothly planed pine, each character is lightly engraved, then stained in shades of tan, blue and creamy tangerine. The beauty of their simple lines compels me to give them center stage each year, fully aware that the half inch edge on which they stand guarantees they will topple.
Mary and Joseph, the manger with Jesus’ arms outstretched, even the shepherds holding lambs are cut more squat; bent and bowed they gather in close to the miracle. The wisemen, though, stand tall and erect, arms outstretched with gold and gifties. They are still searching, still traveling toward the mystery, seemingly following the packages which protrude from their center of gravity. It is a precarious place to be, carrying all that stuff in this territory on the edges of the story. They fall. A lot.
I could keep them in the box, of course, or crowd them into the scene of Christmas morning. But that is not who they are. That is not who we are. I am glad to be reminded that the wisest travelers seeking the Christ sometimes fall. No. They fall a lot.
—Oh Lord of all, When we fall: Help us learn, help us up, help us grow, and help us keep moving. Amen.