December 23, 2020
Dreams of Love
Invocation and Reading
Like a child love would send to reveal and to mend,
Like a child and a friend, Jesus comes.
Like a child we may find claiming heart, soul, and mind,
Like a child strong and kind, Jesus comes. (“Like a Child” Daniel Damon, st. 1)
1 John 4: 7-19
Knowing God Through Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Seeing God Through Love
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
The Consummation of Love
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
May the Lord bless the reading and understanding of His word. Glory to God in the highest!
The message seems so simple – the message of God’s redeeming love for us and, in return, our love for Him and all of His creation. Yet, we are so often confounded by situations around us that we know could be thoroughly resolved if only guided by love. I’m sure many of us share these feelings, especially in today’s distressing world. We often wonder how such a crucial aspect of Christ’s teachings – love (agape) can be so elusive.
Of course, it is up to each one of us to decide how we convey this love to God, and to the world around us. And so, my wish this Christmas is that each of us “amp up” our dreams of a world guided by love, and seek new ways to encourage it all around us.
The beautifully simple text for “Love Came Down at Christmas” (UMH #242) states the great love of the incarnate Jesus, and that this divine love prompts us to love one another in return. Based on our reading from 1 John, Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) authored the poem ca. 1885. Dr. C. Michael Hawn, professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, notes that Rossetti was a writer of deep faith, and though the poem was not originally intended for congregational use, it first appeared as a hymn in the Oxford Hymn Book (1908).
Here’s a musical setting by Edwin Fissinger that sets off the text very nicely I think. I hope the different tune will aid in hearing the words anew – words of love.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
“Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
Offered by Joche Wilmot, Director of Music Ministries