As you may have noticed, our overall theme this Advent Season is “First Light.” Throughout the ages, the imagery around the birth of Jesus has often included the dawning of a new day, or the first light of a new dawn. So during our Advent sermon series we will revisit this imagery as we explore the four traditional emphases of the Sundays of Advent: Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace.
Now, as Christians we certainly don’t claim that prior to the birth of Jesus there was no love, hope, joy, or peace in the world. Rather, we celebrate during the Season of Advent and Christmas a new dawning of love, hope, joy, and peace in our lives and in our world today. This dawning is radically new: God coming to us as an infant. Each year we celebrate the love, hope, joy, and peace that Jesus brings to our lives and to the world through our lives.
On this first Sunday of Advent our focus on Love will begin with the first letter of John, verse 4:8, that boldly says, “God is Love.” Our scripture then goes on to proclaim in 1 John 4:9 that the birth of Jesus is the dawning of the light of God’s love in our world: “This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him.”
When I consider the words of one of my favorite Christmas hymns, “Love Came Down at Christmas” (#242 in our hymnal), I think it perfectly illustrates this dawn of Love. Even though it was written in 1885 by Christina Rossetti, I think it still holds up in our world today:
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and neighbor,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
In Jesus, God comes to each of us in a very personal way. To use the oft-quoted words of St. Augustine, “God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love.” As we face the things we all experience in our everyday lives — the joys, frustrations, opportunities, and challenges that are common to all of humanity — by consistently loving in all of these situations we demonstrate this power of Love.
Especially during Advent and Christmas, we are reminded that the power of Love can transform darkness into light. So to prepare ourselves for the first Sunday of our First Light Advent Season, let’s all ask ourselves these questions:
When have I personally experienced Love as a powerful force for bringing light into darkness?
In my own time of darkness and confusion, when has the light of Love illuminated my path to show me my next steps?
When has the power of Love led me through difficult circumstances?
I look forward to exploring these questions with you — and greeting the new dawning of Love for each of us this Advent Season. I’ll look for you in the Sanctuary this Sunday in Traditional Worship.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor
1 John 4:7-9
Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him.