I’ve been looking forward to this Sunday in the Advent season. Today we focus our minds and hearts on love. It seems like reflecting on the love of God through Jesus is its own little wrapped gift after working through the other weeks of Hope, Peace and Joy. They all lead us right here….where we try to wrap our heads around just how outrageously loved we are by the maker of the universe…. the maker of us.
When I learned I was finally pregnant with my first child, after beginning to resign myself to the idea that motherhood might not be part of the plan for my life, it was the most glorious surprise! As I felt my boy grow and learned what foods or positions made him give little kicks of protest, I responded with care. Long before I ever saw his sweet face, he was forever mine (well…my husband’s too!) Before his arrival on the day of his birth, I dreamed and cared for him with a fierce love I could never have imagined, and for the first time I saw Mary, the mother of Jesus, from a very personal perspective. This woman who is integral to every telling of the Christmas story, angel messenger and all, was also a mother… just like me. And we both were surprised by and blessed by our sons, who would forever change the course of our lives.
And this is where I am often struck by the similarities of the seasons of Advent and Lent. While we rejoice at the birth of our savior, we also know from this side of history that just as Jesus entered the world in the humblest of ways, he would leave it by the lowliest means of execution. I know that’s not what we want to picture at Christmas! But it’s what gets me to the thoughts about love that have been swirling around my heart the past few days…
The entire God story is not only full of uncompromising, inexplicable love….it is love for his creation….love for US.
And I am reminded of Mary and I, and the incredibly deep love we had for our baby boys before they had ever drawn their first breath. And I type through blurry eyes now because we also both learned that on the other side of that love is the potential of unimaginable grief…
My list of specific beliefs and ways to understand God has grown considerably shorter in the years since the loss of my son. But what remains is pure gold, and one of those core beliefs is that God loves me – and you! I also believe with all my heart that all of the pain, grief, war, violence, hatred and division that seems to have seeped into all of the broken places of a broken creation has an expiration date, and that it will all be redeemed in the culmination of the greatest love story ever told. In fact, the redemption is at work even now!
I think in her mother’s heart, Mary knew that too, and maybe it helped with the sting of loss some, knowing she would see her son again one day and get to wrap her arms around his neck and maybe even remind him to eat something. =)
If your heart is turned more toward Lent than Advent this Christmas season, that’s OK. There’s just a hair’s breadth in between, in my opinion, and both are drenched in love – in the coming of Jesus, and in his suffering and sacrifice. Ultimately, both were acts on our behalf to gather us back to what creation was intended to be all along – perfect union with God.
You are loved…. I am loved…. we are loved!
And if you are having a hard time believing that truth for yourself today, it’s OK – I’ll believe it for you until you can open up to seeing how deeply important you are to God.
So much love,