Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 21, 2009
Accept the gift of love, like the gift God gave to you at Christmas
The message of Christmas is simple: God is love. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3.16).
Love is not just an attribute of God, such as omnipotence, all-knowing or infinite, but is the core of his being. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a divine Trinity, one in being through an outward-reaching, always-giving communion of love. It is only fitting that this God of love would reach beyond himself to bring into being even more love - to create a universe and to create a people formed in his image and likeness.
It is also fitting that the God of love would not only visit the people he has created, but do so by becoming one with them through sharing in their nature. For him to go that far and then become a king in a castle would make little sense. So God chose the humblest way to be born - born of a virgin in a remote, nearly forgotten part of the world and laid in a feeding trough for animals.
God chose to live the humblest of lives and to die the most ignominious of deaths. He did it not for himself, but for us.
Why? Because he is love, absolute and complete.
There were philosophers who maintained that God created the world, but had little to do with it afterwards. He started the mechanism running and then went to sleep.
This is not the God revealed to us. The God revealed to us is Love. If we worship this God - and what other suitable response is there? - then such worship must consist in love. It must be a worship that in some small way tries to reciprocate the love God gives us. It must be a worship of offering and thanksgiving. It must also be a love that imitates the love God gives. It must be a worship of service and communion.
The opposite of love is the life focused on the self. And how our society does call us to this self-focused life! The self-focused life offers a vision of ever-expanding possessions and ever-expanding self-fulfillment.
But it lacks the simple ability to accept a gift. Everything is entitlement. The poster child for the self-focused life is the wife in the commercial who gives back the Mixmaster her husband has given her for Christmas because the woman next door was given a car. What she can have, I deserve too.
To accept a gift, freely given, is to acknowledge the spirit of communion out of which it was given. It is to realize that the giver is not trapped in his or her self, but has crossed over from the ego and offered the bond of friendship. It is to realize also that I too am not an isolated being, that the fullness of my being comes through relationship with others.
God is love. Worship that God of love and become love too. Move out of self and enter into freedom and spirit. That is how to celebrate Christmas.
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