9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Well, we have arrived! The birth of Christ is just a few days away. This Advent we've taken a look at the themes of Joy, Hope and Faithfulness and now, in our final week of preparation, Love. There are strands of this theme, love, woven into so many parts of the nativity story. There is the love and commitment we see in Joseph and Mary's relationship, the love that must have existed between Mary and her newborn child, and the love that was shown this newborn child by the Magi and the shepherds.
In thinking of so many different kinds of people gathered around the Christ-child, I am reminded of the greatness of Jesus' love and how this love, even as a babe, brought people to him. God's love is a powerful, mighty thing.
In this passage from John 15, we hear Jesus saying that just as his Father loves him, so he loves us. Stop and appreciate that for a moment- the love that exists between God the Father and God the Son is available to us. We can share in that powerful, mighty love and share in that bond. Christ then goes on to say remain in my love(think: continue to exist in my love). This statement makes me think, yes...but how?
If you keep my commands, you will remain (exist) in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain (Exist) in his love...My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
In different times in my life I have been very aware of just how merciful and forgiving the Lord has been with me. I fall: once, twice, seventy-seven times, but always the Lord takes me back. Remembering his mercy and forgiveness makes it easy for me to commit myself to him, because time and again he has shown his commitment to me. This point in the year is an excellent time to take stock of the Lord's blessings from the year and a great time for us to recommit ourselves to him.
Let's take time today and over the next couple of days to remember the Lord's goodness and love and personally re-dedicate ourselves to him. Here are a few you could do to get started:
- Name all the blessings from this year, start with the easy ones (write them down!).
- Now, think about the hard things for this year. Especially think about your reaction in the hard times: did you cling to the Lord or run from him? Did you blame the Lord or ask for his grace and mercy in the situation?
- Remember: our relationship with the Lord is a dynamic one, meaning that it will be a relationship that includes change, activity and (ideally) progress. Sometimes this means that the Lord will give us trials in order that we might grow, develop and deepen our relationship with him. All things are opportunity, all things are gift. We have a Lord that truly, deeply cares for us.
- After considering these things, take some time to surrender all of them back to the Lord, whether through thanksgiving or honest conversation. At the end, set your list and thoughts aside and rededicate yourself to your Creator and King. Here is a prayer you could use:
Lord Jesus, I praise you for being a God that desires a relationship with me and wants to be involved in my life. Thank you that you are not distant, but are close. You care, for me and about my life. This coming year, I want to give you my life again. I believe in your truth and power and want to live my life more fully as a daughter of Christ this year. Help me to cling to you in all circumstances and to see the ways that, this coming year, I can be a better, more faithful daughter. I want to exist in your love and be a keeper of all your commandments. This year, Father, let me love as you do. Thank you, Lord, for your great love and for inviting me into the dynamic, loving relationship that you have with your Father. I love you, Jesus.