My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen):
Love is complex and ever evolving. Love, in every aspect of my life, requires so much from me, whether it’s love for God, my partner, my children, my neighbor and even my enemy. It both stretches and binds me, it uplifts yet grounds me. Somehow love weakens then simultaneously strengthens me. I can’t see, touch, or hear it but I feel it without using my hands. There is evidence of it all around yet it leaves no footprints. It is invisible to the physical eye but when it is absent it is apparent to even the blind. It requires the giver to be both resilient and vulnerable and the receiver to be wise yet forgetful. What a complex and beautiful thing love is!
When I read the story of the shepherds and the angels I wonder: Do they realize the act of love occurring at this very moment? I’m not sure that one realizes in the midst of a miracle the depth of love displayed. For example, does a spouse know the act of love a wife displays as she is giving birth to their child? Or does a child know the magnitude of love a parent has as they walk them through the trials of life? I think it’s probably something that we reflect upon and begin to understand as time unravels.
As I reflected on the birth of Christ, I began to see the depth and gravity of love it took for God to come to earth in the form of a baby. God placed him/herself in a state of ultimate vulnerability — a fragile infant. God could have come to earth as an adult, tall, strong, and fully mature. Yet God chose to walk the path we all walk, bear the trauma of birth and enter this world the same way we do. God could have called legions of angels for protection or had temples built for the arrival but no, Jesus was born in a manger. I read this passage and began to see the example of sacrificial love that God is showing me.
I know that there are many different opinions and beliefs over whether God is three spirits with one connected consciousness or one spirit with three separate extensions — or some other sort of variation. I admit my mind cannot grasp the concept of God’s existential make up. But I do know that the birth of Christ was divine, Christ himself is divine and loves us more than I will ever fathom. Sometimes I feel so silly when I think I’ve done something to interrupt God’s love for me and then I read and contemplate on acts of love like this. God’s love for us is everlasting and immeasurable.
I always tell my kids “There is nothing you could ever do or say that would make me stop loving you.” Now if I, in my faulty human flesh can be sure of that, how much more does God feel that way about us? Try saying this in the mirror “There is nothing I can do or say that will make God stop loving me.” Say it until you believe it — because it’s true.
Prayer for the day: God, please help us remember the beautiful and miraculous act of love you did for us by coming as a baby. Please help us to feel with our hearts and understand how much you care for us. Help us to then take that example and begin to show it with our loved ones and enemies. Give us strength to be vulnerable and sacrificial as we show our love to others. Open our eyes to your acts of love from the daily rising of the sun to the one time only birth of Jesus Christ so we can be constantly reassured of your love for us. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.