BUV Christmas Devotions: Faith, Hope, Love
by Rev Chris Barnden
As the weeks and months of restriction wore on, I’m sure we wondered whether Christmas would ever come! And yet, here we are, the season now well upon us!
Last week, on TV, I was watching reunions at the airports as borders opened again after these many months. I must admit I became quite emotional as I watched families and individuals, separated from their loved ones for months, reunited in loving, tearful embrace – the power of love that kept each partner going until they could be in each other’s arms again.
Perhaps this is even more significant this Christmas, because it’s love that usually powers family reunions and gatherings at Christmas, as families who have been separated for whatever reason during the year, endeavour to get together with loved ones to celebrate Christmas and being together once more. How much more this Christmas!
For Christians, there is a whole other dimension of love that we think about when we think of Christmas. However, it’s interesting that very few of the Christmas carols that we sing at Christmas actually mention love.
The Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Saviour which are so dear and so full of meaning for us, don’t mention love. The stories of the coming of the Saviour in Matthew and Luke don’t talk about love.
So how can we be so sure that, as Christina Rossetti wrote in her carol, “Love came down at Christmas”?
Well, the love we talk about has a different character than that which the world normally associates with Christmas time. Let’s be clear, it’s God’s amazing love we’re talking about. And of course, this love is not simply the warm feeling you may have looking around the table at your loved ones on Christmas Day, being together for perhaps the first time after a long time apart.
God’s love at Christmas is of a different character, and we need to visit verses like John 3:16 to discover the nature of this love we’re talking about – “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)
Or, Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”. (NLT)
The coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas is, without doubt, God’s incredible act of love. However, this is no mere warm feeling of sentiment we’re talking about! This is a love which acts with great intention, is determined, and overcomes great opposition, yet which is also gentle, forgiving, and compassionate – willing to sacrifice all for its beloved. God’s love is motivated not for God’s own warm feelings but solely for the welfare and blessing of those who are loved.
God’s love, demonstrated at Christmas, is a love that takes action to break down barriers in order to rescue, to invite, to include, to bless, to save, and to do something for us that we could not do for ourselves, to bring us back where we belong – to the loving embrace of a loving God.
Thus are we able to confidently and gratefully sing, “Love Came Down at Christmas”.
- Which aspects of God’s love described above have been most important in your own life?
- During this Christmas and holiday period, what aspects of God’s love would you like to discover more about?
- What opportunities might you be able to take up to express God’s love to those around you, to those in your friendship circle or to those in your street?
- In these last three weeks we have looked at the meaning of Faith, Hope and Love in the context of the coming of Jesus among us at Christmas. How have these devotions both enriched your understanding of his coming, and strengthened your motivation to share these truths with others?
BUV, Regional Pastor – Metro