7 Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 8 The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.
11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. 13 This is how we know we remain in him and he remains in us, because he has given us a measure of his Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. 15 If any of us confess that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in us and we remain in God. 16 We have known and have believed the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.
1 John 4: 7-16 (CEB)
(For use with the MORNING Daily Prayer)
Christmas is love. The season for giving gifts is itself the ultimate gift. Of love. God so loved the world that… Well, you know how it ends. Love so spectacular that the man behind it was willing to give his life in a divine effort to make ours better. Christmas is how it begins. Love so amazing that God reaches out through transcendence and takes hold of us and draws us close.
Reflecting this morning through the lens 1 John4:7-16, I see the love of Christmas in three beautiful dimensions.
In the first dimension, I see God. Breaking through. A desperate love to reclaim a cherished people. There is no doubt that we are broken. Separated from God. Divided from each other. Because of the choices we make, we push ourselves further and further away from being the kind of people God knows we can be. So far distant from God, we become vulnerable to other forces and powers. Captured. Imprisoned. And then, on that first Christmas morning, God breaks in. On this day, a child is born. To us. For us. To break us free to become the people God has always known we could be.
In the second dimension, I see us. Reaching out to God. Desperate to hold on, to be drawn back into relationship, to show that we are able to respond to the love of the Christmas break-in with the gratitude of our own boundary-breaking love. Where there are divisions that separate us from each other, where there are hurts that drive us away from each other, the author of 1 John seems to believe that we have the Christmas capacity to love as God loves. The author of 1 John seems to believe that we have the capacity to give the best of ourselves to make better the lives of those around us. If God is love and we are God’s people, then love is not only what we do, love is what we are. We so love the world that…well, you know how it is supposed to end.
In the third dimension, I see the Spirit. Because God’s Spirit dwells in us, we are God’s own. Christmas day is every day for us because every day we celebrate that God intervened for us and remains with us, sustaining, encouraging, reclaiming us. This is a gift beyond compare. The gift of Christmas. And we have it. Every day.
A Prayer for Christmas Day
Thank you, Dear God, for the gift of your love, incarnate in the life of your son. Help us, through the presence of your Holy Spirit, to cherish his life by living his life in the way live our lives. On this Christmas morning, may we not only remember your love; may we not only celebrate your love; may we live your love.
Brian K. Blount
President of Union Presbyterian Seminary
and Professor of New Testament