As we light the fourth candle of Advent, we consider the love embodied in the arrival of Jesus. As a reminder, I’m using Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu as my Advent devotional this season.
The Arrival of Love
The season of Advent draws to a close as Jesus’ birth is imminent. It’s that long-awaited event that stretched out for Mary far longer than the four weeks of Advent. Luke tells the story of the arrival of love this way:
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
Love Laid in a Manger
There’s a funny thing about waiting. While you are in it, the waiting seems like it will never end. But when the thing you are waiting for arrives, it feels like it’s always been there as a part of you. I bet Mary felt the same way when she saw the face of her baby. She had waited nine long months, and who knows how long she was actually in labor. But all of a sudden, there he was.
Jesus came as love wrapped in the moment that every mama loves – the birth of her baby.
And she laid him in a manger. I can imagine her sitting and looking at him, marveling at every eyelash, finger, and breath. That’s what I did the night my firstborn arrived. I couldn’t have gone to sleep if I’d wanted to.
The Driving Force of Love
“For God so loved us that He gave His only begotten son.” Love was the driving force. The testimony today is that God’s love shows us that He was willing to go to any length to restore our relationship with Him. It’s this same love that compelled Jesus to serve us with His very life. And it is this same love that flows through us to those who need to know Him.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this season, may His love compel us to share the story with all we meet.
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