July 20, 2024

Advent Week 4”… She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” -Matthew 1:21-23

As I sit in the coffee shop writing and sipping my hot chocolate (it’s nearly Christmas, don’t judge me) I look at my coffee cup; it’s decorated with trees and hearts, and all colored red in honor of the holidays. I’ve seen a sweater or two pass by with red hearts on them as well.

It’s a fun time of the year that we get to focus on words like “love” and “joy”, and it’s painted on many of our faces, sold on our coffee cups and stitched into our clothing. It is fun, it’s happy.

And it’s easy. Far too easy in fact, for the “love” we discuss this time of year to slip into this vague, love of humanity sort of thing. Nothing specific, let’s just love a lot.
I wish we were generally concerned about love and joy and giving smiles to strangers all year long. I wish our vague love of/for humanity focus was the general condition of our species all the time, but that may be an article for another time.
We don’t celebrate this season because we simply want to have general love for all humankind (though we should at least do that much!) This season of love and joy and happy smiles is rooted not in broad warm emotions, but history. Events that happened two millennia ago in a small working class village just outside the bustling capital of an occupied kingdom during a time of political unrest and religious division and confusion. A people needed rescued. In that village of Bethlehem, a child is born to a young virgin named Mary in less than auspicious surroundings. He is that very rescuer. That God-wrapped-in-our-mortal-flesh rescuer came from a throne over all the universe, to be born, a helpless baby, to peasant subjects of a tyrant.

Jesus, who in nature is God, chose to empty himself, to step down to join us. That we might live, and be saved from our sins. This is love. This is what we celebrate, not only this month, but all year. In this ought our love for all humanity be centered.

Keep sipping hot chocolate from your heart-decorated red cups; just please remember whose love we’re celebrating.