On this fourth and final Sunday in the Advent Season, we pause to light another candle on our Advent Wreath—the Candle of Love. So many poems and plays and novels have been written about love, mostly the romantic kind, that the word easily loses its vibrancy and becomes a mere shadow of itself.
What then is this thing called love?
Perhaps this is the opportune moment to explore the many facets of love. Actually, that is an impossible task in a blog post (there isn’t enough space!), let me just articulate a few important aspects that I believe define love.
- Love is never about possession or control. No one can own or control another person, no matter how much we might love them. Love is always about freedom, the freedom to be fully who we are in the presence of the person we love.
- Remember that old, old movie starring Ryan O’Neil and Ali McGraw (this dates me!!)? It was called Love Story and one of the most memorable lines from it was,“love means never having to say you’re sorry.” What a crock! Love, in fact, is about being willing to say you are sorry when you hurt another person. And not in the way that Rob Ford says he is sorry, but with a genuine remorse and an intention to do better in the future.
- Love is about vulnerability, not fearing judgement from the other person when we show the vulnerable parts of our hearts and souls.
- Love is about trust. Placing complete trust in another person is a beautiful gift and one that is to be cherished and valued.
- Love is unconditional. Too often love comes with “strings attached.” Religious groups are particularly good at this one and can often be heard to say, “God loves you……if you believe the same things that our particular faith group believes.” That is not love. That is dogma. Challenge any church that peddles dogma rather than love.
- Love is life changing. When we live in the messy, marvellous, morass of loving others, we are changed and transformed.
If I review the above list, how does the Christmas story love measure up?
Some have called it the greatest love story ever lived. A pregnant teenager and a man who is defying all the cultural taboos of his culture. She is pregnant outside the bonds of marriage and lucky that she was not stoned to death for her perceived promiscuity.
But this is not a story of romantic love, although some elements of that could perhaps be read into it. Rather, it is a very human story of real human beings caught up in the agony and joy of bringing a new life to birth. It is a story of vulnerability and openness to change and it is certainly, above all, a story about trust—between two people and God.
As you listen to or read the Christmas Story again this year, I invite you to search for the glimpses of love that shine across the centuries to touch our hearts today.
Blessings and love, Linda
p.s. Read all the previous Advent blog posts: