[#pictureAdvent] December 13: LOVE

By Cathy C. Hart     
Palm Harbor UMC           
Palm Harbor, FL

First, read Zephaniah 3:14-17

One of my favorite words in the English language is Love. It is also one of the most misused and misunderstood. We say “I love chocolate,” or “I love Star Wars,” or “I love Disney World!” We use it to describe our feelings for our friends, our families, and even our pets.

I love my dogs. Recently, I read an article about how to know when your dog loves you. It listed such things as being able to see it in their eyes or facial expressions, getting excited when you come home, wanting to be in the same room that you are in, and wanting to sleep in the bed with you. These are all behaviors that I have experienced with my dogs; especially the last two. It is such a great feeling to know that my dogs love me and want to be with me.

In our passage today it says that God is in your midst. Emmanuel. God with us. Through the birth of the Christ child, God came and dwelt among us. The hymn Love Came Down at Christmas speaks of this wonderful love. “Love incarnate, Love divine.”

God wanted to be with us. That’s how much we are loved. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son!” (John 3:16). We can rejoice knowing that God is with us, not just at Christmas time, but all the time.

God is love (1 John 4:8). When God is in your midst, you are in the presence of love. Zephaniah 3:17 says “He will create calm with his love.” Our hearts and minds can be so filled with fears, anxiety, and stress which seem to be amplified during the Christmas season. But God’s love quiets our fears, as stated in the ESV translation “he will quiet you by his love.” Take time today to rest in God’s presence and love.

Prayer: God of love, thank you for loving us so much that you sent us your Son, Jesus. Calm our hearts and minds with your love and open doors of opportunities for us to share it with others.

Wanshel, Elyse, 10 Surprising and Secret Ways Your Dogs Say “I Love You.” http://www.littlethings.com/secret-ways-dogs-say-love-you/

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. How do you define love?

2. Describe a time when you felt loved by a family member, friend, or pet.

3. When have you felt quieted by God’s love? How can you share that love with someone else?