Day 22: Fourth Sunday of Advent
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)
“Love is blind.” At least, that is how the saying goes. The phrase means that when love is in play, a person is prone to overlook, or just plain fail to see, the problems within the person being loved. There is some truth to that, but the kind of love we all deeply desire is a love that truthfully sees everything about us and still loves us. Love that is blind—that turns away from reality—is false love, while love that sees—that leans into reality—is real love.
John 3:16 is such a well-known Scripture passage because it describes God’s love as real love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). In the midst of a world stuck in the cycle of death, Jesus the Son of God comes to bring liberating life. Even as the world could potentially be condemned because of evil and injustice, God takes a different route by sending Jesus to save the world. Jesus Himself echoes this later when He says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). We see in Jesus the Messiah that God’s love is an eyes-open love, leaning into the reality of our world and our lives. Jesus shows us just how far God will go to hold us in His loving embrace.
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing God’s plan to bring the Messiah to birth through her, Mary was astounded. Her question, “How will this be?”, was both a question about the manner of the Messianic birth since she was a virgin and simultaneously a question about the possibility that something like this could occur in human history. When Gabriel emphasized God’s decisive plan to intervene through Jesus as Messiah, such knowledge eventually leads Mary to erupt with praise: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation” (Luke 1:46-47, 50).
That little word ‘mercy’ is an echo of the Hebrew word hesed, which refers to God’s uniquely steady and faithful love. Mary grasps, and shares with us today, that God sees what is really there in the world and still chooses to love humanity from generation to generation throughout the earth. Mary becomes a picture not only of humble obedience to God’s call, but also boisterous praise of God’s love. As we draw close to Christmas Day, let us join Mary’s wondrous call to praise our God whose love is not blind, but rather eyes-open about us and our world. Let us draw near with anticipation to experience once again the tenderly tenacious love of God found in Jesus the Messiah.
- What difference does it make to you that God loves you—no matter what, just as you are?
- Who in your life needs to hear that God loves them…absolutely and completely? How and when will you tell them?
A Prayer for the fourth Sunday of Advent (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
O God of Elizabeth and Mary,
you visited your servants with news of the world’s redemption
in the coming of the Savior.
Make our hearts leap with joy,
and fill our mouths with songs of praise,
that we may announce glad tidings of peace,
and welcome the Christ in our midst. Amen.
Use these “Family Talk” sections each week with younger children
What were you like, as a baby? Did you cry a lot? Were you a messy eater? Did you start crawling and getting into everything? Ask your family to tell you a few things they remember from your baby days.
Babies can be funny little creatures, and if you have a baby brother or sister, you know this already! Babies don’t know that they should be quiet and sleep all night. Babies get really excited about eating their birthday cake, but sometimes, they get more cake in their hair than in their mouths! And, babies are fearless explorers—they get into a lot of trouble and need us to watch them.
No matter how much work babies can be, there is one thing that’s sure—their families LOVE them! Babies don’t try to “be good” and earn their parents’ love, and they don’t have to. Their parents already love them with a fierce “no-matter-what” kind of love.
This is how God looks at you and me. No matter what we do, God continues to love us, to forgive us when we do wrong, and to care for us until we meet Him in heaven. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for this kind of love is hesed.
Mary understood God’s hesed, and she was amazed by it! She was amazed that God was sending a rescuer to die in place of His people, and she was amazed that she was going to be a part of the plan—the mother of Jesus! When you see a baby this Christmas, think about God’s hesed, “no-matter-what” kind of love for each of His children—including you!