Advent thoughts from an ex-pastor: love

advent-loveYes I was once a pastor.  I may be a rebel, but my faith remains my foundation. I’m not Catholic, but my youngest attends a catholic school where they learn advent.  I was moved by the themes of the candles.  Christmas is a beautiful time of year, but many have questions of what it is truly about; a baby in a barn? Really? And how does Santa fit into that?

What I find most interesting about faith, especially Christian faith, is that many feel they know what it’s about without knowing a lot about it.  For example, the concept of God’s love.  We’ve heard about it enough, we think we have the low down on it, but the older I get the more I discover how mysterious God’s love is. The problem with “knowing” about God is we become obsessed with getting him right and ourselves right. Then when we feel the need to get others right.  We will never “get” him, at least not in this life.  No matter how many boxes we put him in, he breaks out of them all.  We only know God as we believe him to be, yet Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, then you’ve seen God”.  So, what’s your perception of Jesus then?

Jesus is my favourite.  If he’s what God is like, then God is a fav of mine too.  And if this is true, then God is a whole lot different than you and I imagined.  For example, who did Jesus invite to be at his table?  It certainly wasn’t those we would expect; the elite, the well put together, the ones who looked good.  No, the those at Jesus’ table were liars, doubters, sluts, criminals, double-crossers, misfits, rebels, and loud mouthed know-it-alls.  Not one of them asked Jesus if they could follow him, he sought them. He looked past what others perceived and SAW them.  Interestingly, all religious hoops we feel we need to jump through, if we reflect on who Jesus kept as close company and the fact he chose THEM not the other way around, perhaps there’s much more to his love than what we thought?

Jesus didn’t come to make “bad” people good.  He came to make what was dead come alive.  He didn’t look down from a heavenly place as to say to us humans; “Dance monkey dance” for affection and affirmation. And any faith based on “what I can do”, or “what I manifest” will always struggle with worth.  Christmas offers us this gift; instead of earning, we receive for free.  Is it really free?  Is it that easy?

I would dare to say after all my years of study, the answer is a beautiful “yes”.  It’s when we don’t believe it’s that simple that this beauty gets distorted and the perfect love being offered becomes twisted. The brave are called to simply believe the gift of love that’s been given and receive it.  Jesus didn’t pursue glory for himself, but gave it up and then gave it away.  True love is being willing to glorify another even when you are the more worthy one.  He takes his crown and places it over me.  Then he calls me “beloved”.  In Him I become.  I belong, because the king says so.  I don’t belong to his rules, I belong to his heart.

He never wanted to tame us, he wants to liberate us. This Christmas season I pray you find not only visions of the baby, but the lion who roars with love for your freedom.  Could it be he has already been seeking you?

I believe he has.

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