“Look here, I am doing something new just now. Do you not see it? It’s like streams in the desert or a path through the darkness.”
This time of year we often read this passage from the writings of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. At the heart of life is this movement, this transition — the turning of old into new, of absence or loss into being found or connected, of hard times and difficult moments into something more meaningful or sustainable.
This is love as I see it. Not the experience of sentimentalism or the temporary happy endings of movies so ubiquitous this time of year. And not even the smiles and laughter of the child that got just what he or she wanted under the Christmas tree. These are all good, of course. And we long for such moments.
But the real gift of this season is simply the reminder that the persistence of love lies just beneath the surface and at the very heart of all of life, all of the time. It is that new thing being done that maybe we can’t see just yet. This time of year, when we remember love incarnate in the world in the form of the Christ child, is a reminder to go on a scavenger hunt. But instead of looking for where the good stuff is planted, or for which packages under the tree have our names on them, we’re the ones hiding love for others to find. We’re the ones curiously wrapping up love and writing others’ names on the moments found.
That is love. Not so much to reinforce our comfort zone or opinions or even to find strange comfort in old, self-destructive patterns. Love is always this new thing seeking to be born in us. Love is always this new thing at the heart of things, especially when things seem desolate or dire. Charles Wesley called it “love divine, all love’s excelling, pure and unbounded.” Christmas is an invitation to go on a scavenger hunt, inviting others, to participate in the finding.
Perfection and happiness are not the point of love, or Christmas, really. Love is what we let go of… and what frees us up to be present to the new thing in our midst, be it our child after school or a stranger on the street or our job of 10 years or our spouse of 25 years or the exhausted, distant woman behind the Walmart check out stand.
Love is so much less about receiving than it is about connecting. It’s the new thing in each moment that offers itself to be cultivated, experienced, and shared.
This Sunday, December 16, we take a look at love
and welcome Minnesota singer/songwriter Peter Mayer!
It’s going to be a fun and inspiring morning of stories
and songs of wit and wisdom.
I hope to see you Sunday!
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven