Final Preparation. This Advent season we’ve been using Paul’s love chapter from 1st Corinthians to get us ready for the Advent of our Lord. This text isn’t normally associated with Advent, but it sure seems to fit perfectly. Advent is about having FAITH in the promises of God to deliver us from sin. Advent is about having HOPE because we know God’s Word is true and sure. Advent, as we’ll see tonight, is the culmination of all these as God makes His love real and undeniable. Advent is readying us for Christ’s coming at Christmas so that we can behold the suffering servant who will free us from sin out of Love. Advent is preparing us for the time when Christ will return as the King of all creation in glory to make eternal life a reality because of Love. That’s why even though this whole text from 1 Corinthians 13 spends a fair amount of time talking about spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues or moving mountains, they pale in comparison to Love. Simply — If you don’t have Love, you have nothing. Love trumps every spiritual gift or every miracle God may work through us.
What Is Love? God’s coming into the world is God revealing the full extent of His Love for us. But that takes some preparation to understand. More than that, it takes patience to appreciate. In 1 John 4:8, we see that God is the very definition of Love. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Our Lord’s coming at Christmas 2000 years ago and in the untold future is a portrait of Love. Jesus IS the role model on how to Love. Paul uses the word "agape" to describe this godly love. It's so much more that romantic or sexual love, "eros", which, for the record, also come from God. It is more that the friendship bond of "philia" which comes from God as well. Agape is a sacrificial Love which seeks to do what is best for another. For God so loved the world (loves us), that He gave Himself totally. Agape love is giving love. This is the love that Advent seeks to help us understand, appreciate and embrace. It is what God did by coming into this world. It is what God will do by bringing us into His eternal realm. Love In Action. God’s Love is revealed and proven by His coming — then and in the future. It put our needs first. This is the kind of Love that serves, that builds us, that helps. Does the world need this kind of Love? More than anything, especially at a time when more & more people are separating themselves from God. Advent us trying to help us see how much God loves us. God gives His love to us, and wants us to share it with others. The fact is God commands us to love one another as He has loved & still loves us. John 13:34 has Jesus speaking those very words to His disciples & to us. The first letter of John tells us 5 times “You must . . . love one another. If Love is commanded, then it must be important & just maybe, the greatest of all.
Keep the faith. Don't lose hope. Above all else, let your lives be filled with Christ's Love. If we can do this , Advent has done its job - then we are indeed ready for Christ's coming.
Let us pray. Dear Lord, thank you that you are the very definition of love. Help us to receive your love shown first in your coming and then most visibly at the cross. Help us to take that most perfect model of love and pass it on to others - those we like being around and those we do not, those who love us and even those who hate us. We need your help to do this, God, so we commit ourselves to you, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Pastor Lee R. Harder