As we celebrate Advent and Christmas, we're fully aware of where God's love is leading us. The love might begin in the softly starlit manger, but it inevitably will lead to the harsh noonday sun reflecting on the Cross. God knows this, of course, but does not shy away from the pain that is coming. God's extravagant love is demonstrated in God's willingness to give sacrificially. God bestows the most precious gift, God's Son, knowing that this offering will not be appreciated, honored, or at times, even recognized. Yet God also sings, "can't regret what I did for love," as this love which is freely given is leading God's beloved children home.
The price is great, almost beyond measure. The gift of Christmas is that God looks at the cost without blinking. God does indeed care enough to send the very best. The best is the gift of Christ, this bundle of love wrapped in cloths hastily assembled in the lowliest of birth places. It's the gift --
- that makes the angels sing,
- the shepherds run to attention,
- the magi travel to worship and adore
- and it's the gift that continues to bless us even today.
God's love is an "always" love; the psalmist assures us that God is steadfast in devotion and faithfulness. This covenant is reminiscent of a marriage vow; the divine promise is to be faithful until parted by death and even beyond. This is not a conditional love. It is not a careful love. There is no prenuptial agreement here. This is dive in, take no prisoners, head-over-heels, no-holds-barred kind of love. God is willing to give Jesus the beloved on behalf of this fickle, unappreciative world. This is what God would do for love: God will offer that which is most precious.
The ferocity and strength of this love should bring to mind the pledge, spoken or unspoken, of parents across the globe when they catch the first glimpse of their newborn child. In that instant an unbreakable bond is formed with the understood vow, "I will always be there for you." It is fierceness like that of a tigress or a mother bear -- I will fight for you, if necessary. I will defend you with my blood, with my life and with all of my spirit.
Although this love will seek to protect and promises never to abandon, it does not and cannot promise an absence of danger, loss or stress. There will be foes, enemies and wicked ones who want to do harm. God promises that the love of God will never end; the evil that exists cannot prevail. It's not a gilded path free of pain or sorrow, but rather the accompaniment of faithfulness along a precarious journey; it's the promise of a love that is steadfast, strong and true. We can count on this love, no matter what comes. (--from Homiletics, December 18, 2011)