The Beauty of Love

Text: 1 John 4:10   Theme: The Awesome Beauty of the Love of God — Pastor Don Mossman

Introduction

Away in the Manger, a favorite Christmas carol.  While in AA, I was a member of a Lions Club that had the tradition during the Christmas season of going to a lower income retirement residence to distribute a gifts and sing Christmas carols.  I was volunteered to choose and print a number of familiar Christmas carols.  One I chose was “Away in the Manger.  However, somehow the resulting title came out “Away in the Manager.”  Manager?  I had some explaining to do.

I.  Naughty or nice

     A.  Just look at the words.

  1. Now you might also call me a Grinch (or a Scrooge) by my choice of a non-favorite Christmas carol. That would be “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.”  Why you ask?  Well, let me explain.  (Read portions of lyrics)  I find it a little creepy that for 364 days of the year Santa Claus is checking on our bad deeds.  For youngsters, that can be a bit terrifying.  That applies to adults as well.  Yes, all those naughty things you’ve done are being recorded and brought up to the North Pole and Santa.  And he’s checking it twice!  Scary, isn’t it.  (Today he probably uses twitter, text, email, or Instagram…)
  2. And to top it all, there is apparently “Elf on the Shelf” characters that are Santa helpers.  Each night they zip up to the North Pole while you are sleeping to tell Santa about those “naughty” things you’ve done in thought, word, and deed, and thus earning those dreaded lumps of coal in your stockings.

     B.  We don’t need Santa or his elves to check who’s been naughty or nice.

  1. We’ve all been naughty, that is, we have failed to live the lives of God’s people who speak of Jesus as Lord and Savior. In our busy lives, some which may resemble chaos this time of the year, we forget the reason for the season.  It happens.
  2. Sign in kitchen “Love spoke here…” Family of four young children plus two adults.  Apparently, they needed the reminder among the children as well as adult parents.

II.  The love of God that erases all sin.

      A.  Reassuring Christmas cards

  1. We received a picture Christmas card from our son, daughter-in-law and three-year old granddaughter. Simple, yet expressing love.  Their daughter appeared comfortable, happy, and loved, yes, so very loved.  And there was no way that she could fully know the height, the depth, or width of the love that she generated in the hearts of parents and extended family. Yet she lived securely in the glow of that love.
  2. That’s the way it is with God’s love for us. We acknowledge the love, we welcome it, we speak of it, and it is warm and deep and real.  It is as beautiful as in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world…”   And with us, there is no way we can fully know the depth of the Father’s love or us 24 x 7, every day, every hour, a love that doesn’t change or diminish.  Christmas expresses and shares a picture of that beautiful love in the person of Jesus, born of Mary, born to the world.  See LSB, #425, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, verses 1, 3 and 4.  “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”    

      B.  A love that does not diminish.

EG: Some months ago, I went into my stash of handwritten letters that I had received from my wife when we were dating.  Yes, I still have them.  I’ve read a few of them to her after dinner in the evenings.  On occasion my wife would say, “I said that?  No way!”  Letter after letter reminded us both of the love that we received from each other then and the love we now live in.  (By the way, all the letters I had written to her, she threw away.  Seriously!)  And we have had to be reminded of that love a few times in our lives.  As Shakespeare said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream “The course of true love never did run smoothly.”

  1. Our Lord Jesus will take your sins to the Father and say, “Here’s what I found, and here’s what I am going to do with them. I am going to pay for them, and take their names off the naughty list and place my name there instead. In exchange I will give them mercy, forgiveness, peace of heart and mind, and the promise of eternal life.”
  2. So today we bask in the beautiful love of God, a love that never wavers, flickers, or goes out. There is no one whom he doesn’t love, no one who has been so naughty that he would turn his back on them or deliver a lump of coal in the manger. No one!

Conclusion

In place of “Santa Claus is coming to town”, substitute “God loves me dearly.”  Read 1st and 4th verses.  Nobody telling on you or gossiping about your naughty behavior.  You are loved dearly.  Toss the elf on the shelf out the window.  Free up your children.  Free yourself.  “Unto you this day in the city of David is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

sdg

 

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