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The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Four purple Advent candles burning

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

DEVOTION

December 19 is the fourth Sunday of Advent, the day we light the candle of love—love that lived for the sake of others. As we wait for the birth of our Savior, we are reminded that Jesus came to show us a more excellent way, the way of love. Jesus showed the world what true love looks like without restrictions or barriers, without conditions or exclusions. Jesus showed us love for all people. Today we are reminded that God loved us so much that God sent this perfect gift so that we might know what love looks like with skin on. Emmanuel- God with us, love with us. The Work of the People says it this way: The only way we can live is through love. Once we reconcile the fact that love is difficult, but it’s the only thing of value in life, at that point, we love, period. A period is a dot at the end of a sentence that lets the reader know that there is nothing you can do beyond that dot except what was stated right before the dot occurred.” Jesus was love, period.

Many of us know these Advent scriptures well. We know, trust, and believe that God is going to do this incredible thing again. God invites us to not miss the point this year. If we believe these stories, we are called to live them. We need to be as Jesus was, love, period.

What does love, period look like in your life? If you’re not sure where to begin just look at the stories of Jesus who was Emmanuel, God with us. Love with us. Love that included, welcomed, and extended the table. Love that healed the sick and fed the hungry. Love that emptied itself for the sake of others.

I was talking with a friend recently about the line from O Holy Night: “a thrill of hope. The weary world rejoices.” In unison, we both said, “I cry every time.” In the midst of Advent joy, many are weary. Some people are living this Advent season with unbearable grief. Others do not know where their next meal will come from. Some are lonely. Some are paralyzed by the need to be perfect and have everything just right. The weary world is longing for a reason to rejoice, for a thrill of hope. We know the reason to rejoice is coming. We wait with eager longing for Christmas morning when we can declare that the one who is love is born into the world once again. But as we wait, may we prepare our hearts to be love as well—to take that love and pour it out for the whole world. Take that story, and shout it out for the world to hear. A thrill of hope. The weary world rejoices. Love, period.

PRAYER

Holy God, as we wait with eager longing for the birth of your son, help us to embody love the way that Jesus did. Love, period. Amen.

IPC'S ADVENT DEVOTIONAL GUIDE

Please subscribe to be emailed daily Advent devotions incorporating scripture, prayers, and reflections. Printed copies of the devotional will be available soon in various areas around the church.