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Week Four: Love in realization

 

My daughters enacted the same wonderful scene early every Christmas morning. Rachel and Danielle, squealing with delight, would charge into my bedroom, bound onto my bed, jump on my wife and I, and awaken us to start our celebration. (One year this happened so early that we established a no-waking-until-sunrise rule.) Moments later JoAnn and I would watch Rachel and Danielle rush out into our family room to see their gifts wrapped and stacked under a traditionally adorned and glittering tree. Soon hugs and kisses were lavished amidst a paper-strewn floor. It was truly a celebration of love.

 

The gifts given and received on Christmas are (or ought to be) a sign of the love in our relationships—indeed, ultimately a symbol of the very love that God has lavished on us. This sort of love is based on an act of the will: a decision to seek the best for others in what we think, say and do. The gifts JoAnn and I gave our children were able to function as tangible tokens of love because we had established loving relationships with them. Minus the intentional loving relationships, the gifts lose any deeper significance.

 

During the Advent season, we focus on the reality of God’s love manifest in Jesus and his incarnation.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). (Matt. 1:21-23)

We experience the reality of God’s love because God has established a loving relationship with us. A relationship in which God wants, indeed, is not satisfied with anything less than our ultimate transformation into perfection. However, unlike human gifts, in the gift of Jesus, Immanuel, the symbol and the reality are one. The gift of Jesus enables our loving relationship with God and our love for others. So, let us allow Christmas to remind us that the truth of love is made manifest in our relationships, in our decision to want and to seek the best for those God brings into our lives.

 

— Rick Schaeffer, Ph.D. professor of chemistry


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