One of my favorite themes for Christmas is “love came down.” It is something I visualize in moments of worship and spiritual reflection. It is the enactment of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” Jesus. This is at the heart of the Christmas story, but only part of the story.
You have undoubtedly heard me say the phrases, “Love God by loving others,” and “We love God best when we love others well.” This is the other side of the story, and I see it exemplified in the lives of Mary and Joseph. It was Mary’s love for God that empowered her to say, “Yes, I will love this child that will be given to me by God.” This act of love ultimately turned out to be an act of love toward the whole world in giving life to the Savior. Likewise, it was in Joseph’s love for God and for Mary that he said, “Yes, I will raise this child as my own son.”
Embracing love isn’t always pretty. When we truly love we take risks, saying yes to others before ourselves. Even though Jesus became our example in this, I believe he also followed the example of his earthly parents.
We hold up love as the highest virtue and plumb its depths for glimpses of beauty. This beauty is rarely found in airbrushed romantic vignettes, but in the nitty-gritty rub of everyday life when we are pushed to give just a little more than we thought possible, that is where we find beauty in love. I know that is what Mary and Joseph would say as they embraced love to become Jesus’ parents. In the counter-intuitive nature of the God’s kingdom, love given is love received and love received empowers us to love yet again. It is from God that love came down, and “we love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
May you experience God’s love as you love one another this Christmas!
Grace and peace,