A few weeks ago I went to visit my grandfather. My parents & I sat down in the living room after a lovely dinner & began to watch a Hallmark movie. About thirty minutes into the movie my grandfather walked in.
He said, “Are we at the conflict yet?"
We all began to laugh & said, “What do you mean?"
He replied, “Everyone knows that every Hallmark Christmas movie starts out joyfully, then there is a conflict, and finally everyone ends happily in love or with a 'Christmas miracle.'"
As we all began to laugh at his observation (because we all knew it was true) it made me think about what these different Christmas movies are teaching us about love & happy endings. My friends are still in wild debate over whether Love Actually or The Holiday is the best Christmas love movie of the season. (We all know it’s The Holiday, but we won’t go there)
In these movies we are taught to see love as something that is magical, desired, and happened upon. It falls into the laps of the characters & they are seemingly naive until they realize they are deeply in love. This love is very different than the love we learn about in Scripture.
In Scripture we see that love is a choice, rather than a feeling or coincidence. It is purposeful, powerful, and overwhelming. It is by God, for God, and is the very character of God himself.
During the fourth week of Advent, we are called to reflect upon God’s love. His love for his people & the choice he made to bear Jesus into the word as a manifestation of that love. Read Ephesians 1:1-12 and reflect upon God’s love & will for us as his adopted sons & daughters.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Isn’t it amazing to know that God chose us before we were even born? God made an active choice to love us & provide a Savior for us because he knew that we would need Jesus. Through Jesus, we are redeemed, forgiven, and reconciled to God to live joyfully in relationship with him.
Our lives are not a Hallmark movie where we have to wait until the end to see if we will be loved & if all will end well. God is actively pursuing us now & wants us to receive the love that he freely gives. The birth of Jesus is the ultimate love story because it is a love story of sacrifice for a people who don’t really deserve to be loved at all.
As you enter into the fourth week of Advent, how do you need to respond to the love that God may be extending to you? How do you need to continue to reflect, consider, and meditate on Jesus’ birth & God’s pursuit of you in this Advent season?
Creator God, you who love us more than we can know who chose us from the very beginning to be family. We praise your holy name. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Word become flesh who dwelt among us and was sacrificed for us. We praise your holy name. Holy Spirit, present and power in our lives. From the moment that we first believed. We praise your holy name.
(Prayer from www.faithandworship.com)