Advent Meditation: Without Love …

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
— 1 Cor 13:1-7

 

In Luke’s Gospel, it is the Jewish poor, the shepherds, who first see and recognise this birth as a manifestation of God in their midst. Perhaps this reflects the experience of Luke’s community and its emphasis on Jesus’ outreach to the marginal ones. In Mathew’s Gospel, it’s the Magi, these Gentile outsiders, who see a mysterious star and follow it. They recognise that the promises made to the chosen people are being fulfilled. How unlikely that they would be the ones to see and understand, while others who are much closer to the revelation are indifferent, or even hostile, to it.
— Mark A. Villano from Time to Get Ready

Without Love

These words on the primacy of love (1 Cor 13:1-13) can help the church in conflict understand that there are some things more important than being right or powerful or honored. If those within the church do not do what they do in the spirit of love, then all religious talk, knowledge, piety, and sacrificial giving add up to nothing. Without love, Christians are like the salt Jesus described as having lost its savor and not good for anything except being “thrown out and trampled under foot” (Matt. 5:13). Those who think they have gained everything by standing on principle, dominating others, or by being right, have lost it all.
— Lewis F. Galloway from Daily Feast

God Is Faithful

… Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom, but it was the church that came. All these years later, the way many of us are doing church is broken and we know it, even if we do not know what to do about it. We proclaim the priesthood of all believers while we continue with hierarchical clergy, liturgy, and architecture. We follow a Lord who challenged the religious and political institutions of his time while we fund and defend our own. We speak and sing of divine transformation while we do everything in our power to maintain our equilibrium. If redeeming things continue to happen to us in spite of these deep contradictions in our life together, then I think that is because God is faithful even when we are not.
— Barbara Brown Taylor from Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

God Is Love

God’s love is infinite — full of tenderness, full of compassion. The way we touch people, the way we give to people, that love we have for one another — it is His love in action through us. Do small things with great love. It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love is put in the giving.
— Mother Teresa from Mother Teresa (film)

Let Me Not Keep Christmas

Let me not wrap, stack, box, bag, tie, tag, bundle, seal, keep Christmas.
Christmas kept is liable to mold.
Let me give Christmas away, unwrapped, by exuberant armfuls.
Let me share, dance, live Christmas unpretentiously, merrily,
responsibly with overflowing hands, tireless steps and sparkling eyes.
Christmas given away will stay fresh—even until it comes again.
— Linda Felver from Book of Christmas, Nashville: Upper Rooms, 1988

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