Fourth Sunday of Advent: The Candle of Love

Hello Friends,

TOMMORROW…IS…CHRISTMASSSSSSSSS!!! Are you excited? The day you have been waiting for has finally arrived! The day when you get to open beautifully colored packages with ribbons and bows! The day when you get up early and stay up late examining your new gifts. The day when you gather with family and friends and possibly neighbors to have a meal together. Christmas Day is certainly filled with a lot of excitement. But we can’t let that excitement cover up the true meaning and reason for Christmas. “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Today, we prepare for the birth of the Messiah by lighting the Fourth Candle of Advent: The Candle of Love. But before we talk about the meaning of this candle, let me remind you of what candle we lit last week. Last week, we lit the Candle of Joy. God through Jesus Christ, has given us joy that trumps all our frustrations, stresses, worries, and anger. This joy is down in our heart, down in our heart to stay; and our heart is the very place where Jesus stays.

However, sometimes we forget about the joy of Jesus. We forget to sing “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.” We forget about the words of the Prophet Isaiah who shared with the people, “And the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10,NIV). We forget about the words of King Solomon who wrote, “A cheerful (or joyful) heart is good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22). We forget that “joy comes in the morning,” that every morning God gives us a new sunrise. Jesus is our joy; and our joy comes from Jesus. Do you have the joy of Jesus down in your heart?

Now that we have talked about the Candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy, we can now talk about the Candle of Love. I need you to use your imagination. Picture that I am holding two gifts–one wrapped in plain old brown paper and one wrapped in extravagant Christmas wrapping. If I were to let you choose, which gift would you pick? On Christmas morning, we may wake up to find brightly-colored packages tied up with pretty ribbons and bows. If on Christmas morning,  you found a package with your name on it that was wrapped in plain brown paper and tied up with string, what might be your reaction? We might not be excited about a package like that.

Maybe that’s why so many people have missed out on God’s gift that we celebrate at Christmas. God’s gift of Jesus, His only Son, didn’t come in fancy wrapping. Jesus’ mother was a young virgin… His earthly father was a poor carpenter… He was born in a stable. Not a very pretty package, is it? Despite the wrapping, Jesus is the greatest gift the world has ever known. He offered us salvation and eternal life with God!

The Bible tells us when Mary found out she was chosen to deliver God’s gift to the world, she was filled with joy. She hurried to Elizabeth’s home to share the good news. Elizabeth was also pregnant, and when she heard the news, the Bible says the baby she was carrying “leaped” inside of her! She exclaimed in a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”

Through Jesus, God sent us the gift of His love, but some people are so busy unwrapping the beautifully wrapped packages this world offers that they have missed out on the greatest gift of all. The greatest gift of all is Jesus and with Jesus in our heart we are forever loved, protected, and granted forgiveness. Jesus’ gift of love reminds us that “he first loved us” (1 John 4:19) and will never stop loving us.

Don’t be afraid to open the not so beautifully wrapped gift this year because it might be the best gift of all!

Let us Pray: Dear Father, we are thankful that You loved us so much that You sent Your only Son to be our Savior. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Your Friend, Holy Spirit!

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