Friends, we would like to thank you for joining us on this special Advent journey. These moments of shared prayer have been very meaningful for all involved in the planning, preparation, and times of devotion.
Now, as we wish you MERRY CHRISTMAS, we would like to offer a special devotion from our Richmond Student Government Assembly, our future alums.
Grace and Peace to you today and always!
Union Presbyterian Seminary
Alumni Development and Church Relations
7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
1 John 4: 7-16
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” And the Lord has come in the most humble, most beautiful of ways, in the face of God’s only Son who entered creation as truly human, truly divine, who set up a place within humanity where all would be held in tandem with the Word of God made flesh in a child born in the humblest of conditions. JOY to the world, indeed.
This year in early November the Union Advancement staff set up poinsettias and wreaths on the staircase in Watts to prepare for the annual Christmas card from the Board of Trustees. They kindly left a note that read “No! We are not decorating for Christmas two months early, this is a temporary installment for the Christmas card photoshoot.” The note got a chuckle out of many students and a sigh of relief – Christmas cannot come before Thanksgiving afterall!
Or can it? Can we live into the spirit of Christmas all around the year? No, not through Christmas lights and trees and poinsettias, although such rituals are beautiful and bring us together. I mean in the continual remembrance of God’s loving action in Jesus Christ who dwelt among the brokenness creation, eating with sinners and loving the loveless, tending to the brokenhearted and proclaiming the joy of the beloved community that is the kingdom of God? I believe we can live into this every day of the year, and the words of 1 John attest to this. For this author, we love because of God’s act of love in Jesus Christ. We are invited to love because we have experienced such great love given freely and undeserved, “12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” Love flows out of us because God’s saving act in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. We respond to love with more love, we can love one another because we experienced the abundant and effervescent love of God.
Today, on Christmas, we celebrate this. We gather together and remember the light and love that broke into the world, that called us “beloved.” And we remember that because of this love, we can only respond in an abundance of gratitude and seek to love one another. When we experience the joy that is God’s love that seeks us over and over again, we cannot help but begin to address one another in love. We cannot help but be different, all year round, because we proclaim a God who found us in the condition of mortality and divinity. Who loves us still, who seeks us still, who meets us in love at every juncture of this life.
Friends, on behalf of the Richmond Student Government Assembly, Merry Christmas from the Union Presbyterian Seminary student body.
And now, Beloved friends,
May you seek to know the love of God,
and in knowing may you proclaim the joy of God’s grace.
May we hold one another in hope,
abiding evermore in the love of the triune God,
until all who feel estranged from such love might find it in us,
Not for our glory, but for the joy of the Beloved community,
the community that is defined by the light and life of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Laura Kelly (M. Div., 2016)
2015-2016 RSGA Clerk