(CROSS POST FROM ADVENTAGAIN.BLOGSPOT.COM)
Your job is done! The presents have been unwrapped and hopefully the smiles abound. All those precisely chosen gifts have been given and received...yes, your job is done! And as clean up looms and the grand Christmas meal awaits, let's pause just a second to reflect on what YOU received. Perhaps you received a long-awaited gift or another shirt you really didn't need or a scarf that you will never wear but I bet you agree that the gift-receiving wasn't about any specific item. Was it about watching others open their gifts? Was it seeing the great surprise in someones face? Was it seeing and hearing the squeals of the children as they delighted in their treasures? Is that what you received?
Let's take one last look at our Advent scripture, Mark 12:29-31: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
But furthermore, The Message translates the verse like this:
The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
We've pondered these verses for one month and eight writings. I'll be honest and tell you that I'm still struggling to apply these verses in my life. I'm struggling to even understand the words and how to love in such a manner. The Message translation helps me a bit but still makes this verse very difficult to apply today and every day. Love with all my heart-passion, with all my soul-prayer, with all my mind-intelligence and with all my strength-energy. And if that is not enough of a challenge, love God, my neighbor and myself in this way. Whew!
So on this Christmas Eve as I sat in my home struggling to write and trying to compose some words that might make sense to someone else, I received a gift. Far away from the Christmas tree and the tinsel but in the quietness of my writing room. Just a whisper of a thought that maybe everyone else has already realized but me...these verses that we have pondered for weeks were perhaps not only written as a commandment but as a description and reflection of God's nature. It is how He loves....me, you, and everyone! The King, the Saviour, the I AM loves me and you with all His heart, with all His soul, with all His mind and with all His strength.
And He comes to teach me that as I attempt to live and love in this same way it is only in reflection of Him for we are made in His image. And in loving people and myself in this way, the world will see HIM. God never asks us more that He's already given and shown. For His very essence is love....not rules, not commands, not condemnation, not arrogance, not selfishness but all love with His whole being. And somehow the shepherds who visited Jesus in the manger saw this love, knew this love, recognized this love and that's why they felt compelled to "spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed.."
What a gift we have received today...the delight He feels is seeing the joy on our faces. His delight is seeing the completeness that His gift gives us. It was the perfect Gift picked out just for us. I love a surprise! Can you see it? Do you recognize the gift? Are we compelled to spread the word? Who can we tell what we have received this Christmas Day?
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