dec. 21 - love

by Rev. Brett Opalinski, Christ UMC Ft. Lauderdale, FL

First, read John 3:16

This is what I call the “football passage." It is the one that you always see on television behind the goalpost whenever someone is kicking a field goal. It may be the most widely known passage from the New Testament. Even many non-Christians can quote this verse.

Most people think that this is a passage about how we should believe in God (and that is true), but it strikes me what comes first, “God so LOVED the world!”  This is a radical passage. How many times has God been portrayed as angry with the world, or disappointed, saddened, outdone, add whatever pejorative adjective you wish. Yet, it tells us in this most basic and simple way that God came in Jesus for no reason other than love. That is beautiful!  

For us, then, when we believe (or the better word may be “trust”) in this basic truth of God we discover what it means to truly live, not just on earth but eternally. Too often we say we “believe” but we live out something different:  anger, fear, judgment, condemnation. When we truly trust our hearts become like God’s heart, filled with a deep and radical love for the whole world, not just the people we like or agree with. God loved the whole world, not a select few ... as Jesus followers this is our calling, too.

This Advent, make room for love. I don’t mean this in an overly sentimental, sappy, or bad country song kind of way. Change your lens of vision to see the world through God’s eyes of deep love and trust in that vision. Know that everything with God begins and ends with love and all else flows from there. For that is what we are waiting for this Advent season ... God’s love to be born among us, today. 

God of Love, help us to love like you do. Help us to anticipate your love being born into the brokenness of our lives and the world. Help us to live as if it were already fully here. Amen.

Litany for the Fourth Week of Advent

In these days of Advent waiting,
Love is the best of all.
In twinkling lights and joyful songs,
Love is the best of all.
In waiting children and weary adults,
Love is the best of all.
In serving hands and caring hearts.
Love is the best of all.
In the warm care of family and friends,
Love is the best of all.
In greeting the stranger with familiar kindness,
Love is the best of all.
In peaceful words for anxious hearts,
Love is the best of all.
In acts of peace in a war torn world.
Love is the best of all.
In a baby born in Bethlehem,
Love is the best of all. Amen.

On this Sunday of Love, open your jar of M & M candies marked, “Love” and read the litany together from today’s devotional. While you eat, talk about what love means to you.

There are all kinds of love. There’s romantic love, family love, friendship love and the unconditional love of God. Our number one job as Christians is to love God and love our neighbors. Talk about the different ways you show love to one another and to the world. Take time together to pray that all might know the wonderful, unending, “no matter what” love of God.