In our church we celebrate the Advent gift of Love today.
There has been a distinct lack of love in the rhetoric we’ve heard this week.
- Stopping people at our border and preventing 25% of the world’s population from entering our country does not seem a reasonable way to promote world peace or enhance greater understanding among God’s people.
- Amidst reports of a Muslim women in Florida being shot at following worship and another being nearly run off the road, it must be terrifying to be a Muslim in our country these days – despite our promise to provide freedom of religion for everyone.
- The harsh words and threatening stances promoted by too many politicians cause more division among people. This is not a pathway to love.
Not much has changed in 2000 years.
Mary and Joseph were forced from their home so they could be counted, set aside, isolated.
Today our Sunday School children will perform the annual Christmas pageant. It is always a moment of merriment when door after door gets slammed in the face of the wandering couple. “No room!” one pajama-robed innkeeper after another bellows, relishing the fact that they can finally yell in church.
Parents and audience members chuckle at their enthusiasm, but I wonder if this year those harsh words may seem a bit more poignant. Here is a young refugee couple desperately seeking shelter yet finding no compassion.
How can we celebrate God’s message of love and assurance in the midst of the world’s terror and violence?
How can we not?
We need the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid” now more than ever.
They are words spoken to those who need it most – the rejected, those pushed to the margins, the ones who are quietly trying to live out their faith and follow this mysterious God.
People may justifiably wonder, “Where is God?”
The answer is the same as it always has been.
- in the stable.
- in the cold and dark.
- among the outcast.
- sending angels with words of hope and invitation.
- inviting us to seek out the miracles that are too easy to overlook.
God is always where there is the greatest need.
Love is not always found in the safest places.
Love weaves its way in where it is needed most.
This is not hearts and flowers, mushy, all-sweetness-and light love.
This is God’s love
- offered to all of God’s people
God is love. Where there is love, new life emerges and hope is born.
That is what we celebrate today.