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4th Sunday in Advent- LOVE

A few weeks ago, I was given a plant. That is always a dangerous thing to do since I am my mother’s total disappointment. While my mother could make anything grow, I can kill even the most resilient plant. But the card with the plant promised that it needs “NO care.” So now I wait… with the plant unattended in my living room window. It is an Amaryllis “in a wax ball”, with directions that say that it does not even need to be watered. Could this be true… a plant that needs absolutely no care… offering a bloom with no love given?
While this Amaryllis may need no love in order to bloom, people are far different. From the moment of our conception ‘til the day we meet our Maker, we desperately need loving care. Even those of us who are determined in our independence still need human contact to thrive. We have learned the importance of our human connections through the isolation of this pandemic. While separation may have kept many of us safe from the virus, that same separation has darkened our days and stolen away precious moments with those we love. We need each other… we need love! How fitting that the last week of Advent celebrates the ultimate gift of love.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son… John 3:16

This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. I John 4:10

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! I John 3:1
Love is the best Christmas gift ever!!! But lest we be satisfied with just reveling in this wondrous gift, keep in mind that this gift is intended to be shared. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) John echoed Jesus’ command as he wrote: “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” In fact, not only is this gift of love designed to be shared, but it is also fully realized when we share. John continues, “If we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is made complete in us.” (I John 4:11, 12) This call to love flies in the face of our Me-First culture. How often we hear the cry for “me and mine” … “my rights” … “my choice” … We hear those chants in discussions about masks and vaccines and how we should care for our children in school. I am not surprised when the world shows itself to be selfish, but I am saddened when we hear that same me-centeredness coming from the lips of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This past Thursday the Philadelphia Inquirer carried a story of one Christian who even quoted the Bible to justify his ‘my rights-over your safety’ attitude. I guess he missed Jesus’ words: “Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) St. Paul described this call to sacrificial love simply: “Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)
But Friends, this ugly culture of self-centeredness does not have the last say! This past week, the leaders of Deacons, Mission and Help-a-Family gathered to prepare the Christmas Outreach gifts for distribution. We were left speechless in the face of your generosity! You gave 307 books to bless our preschool children so that they will learn to love reading. So many of the books you gave shared the good news of Jesus. You also gave over $22,000 in donations and gift cards to help 39 of our preschool families who are struggling, and over 100 families through the Barclay Elementary outreach. Your sacrifice… your willingness to honor others above yourself… will make a difference in hundreds of lives this Christmas. I am so blessed to serve with a faith community who knows how to love! And I know you will continue…
Christmas Eve we will bring gifts for baby Jesus. Those gifts will bless little ones born into the Cradle of Hope community in Glenside. There young mothers are cared for as they learn to care for their babies. Your gifts will help them with the basics so that they can work on the fundamentals of parenting without economic concerns. How wonderful to celebrate the birth of Jesus who was born into poverty and homelessness by blessing little ones who are born into poverty and homelessness. I know that you will yet again leave me speechless in your generosity. God is so good and His goodness shines through you!
With you learning how to love as Jesus loves,
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