This week, we light the second candle on our Advent wreaths. To the Hope we found last week, now we add an Advent of Love. Love of the Father who sent us His Son. Love of the Son who humbled himself to be born into our humanity. And Love of the Holy Spirit who travels with us each day on our journey to the Nativity.
Man, that sounds lofty, though, doesn’t it? I look back at those words I just typed and think, yes, it’s true. But it’s also kind of grandiose. So, how do we make the leap from the theological to the real? The existential to the experiential?
Well, let me tell you a little story about this past weekend.
Last Thursday, Greg and I packed up our oldest son and sent him off for four days at a rather prestigious music camp about three hours from our house. He was so excited to go!
The weeks leading up to this camp were filled with practicing chair audition pieces, getting all of the right forms signed and packed away. We had to make sure he had a pair of jeans that fit him and that his concert attire a) still fit him and b) was clean. (No small feat, am I right, moms?)
The day he left, we packed him, his bag, his horn, and a music stand into the back of his friend’s parents minivan and off they went.
An hour later, our younger son got sick. Norovirus, it seemed, had descended like a plague upon their entire high school. Within hours hundreds of kids were sick. The next day, less than 600 of the 2300 students actually showed up for school. And what had we done? Sent our kid to a camp filled with other teenagers. Was he going to get sick? What about the other kids from his school that were there? Were they going to infest the whole camp with this nastiness?
There was nothing to do. We just had to wait and see…and hope.
Well, I’ll save you the suspense and happily report that our son did not, in fact, get sick. Nor did any of his friends, thank God!
They did, however, have an absolutely marvelous 4 days together. Playing, learning, practicing, growing, meeting new people. What a joy for them!
And on Saturday, after our other son recovered and we were (mostly) sure that our girls were going to stay healthy, Greg and I made the trek across the state to attend the big finale concert on Sunday.
I’ll spare you all of the musical details. Suffice it to say that the concert was phenomenal; I’ve never heard a group of high school kids play that well in my life.
But here’s what I will tell you. I kept getting caught up in wave after wave of love for our child. I delighted in just laying my eyes on him for the first time in four days. It made me so happy to watch him walk across the stage, to see his eyebrows shoot up and a smile light his face when he caught our eyes from the audience. When we finally got to hug him afterward and tell him in person how proud we were of him, hearing his voice and his laugh did my mama heart such deep, deep good.
And do you know what I realized? This thought kept bubbling up, resurfacing over and over again in my mind…
This immense love I have for my child, this all-consuming delight in him, is only a shadow of the Love that God has for me…for you…for us.
Believe me, friend, I know how hard that is to believe sometimes. I know how absurd it can sound. But I also know this.
In two weeks, we will celebrate the Love of the Lord made manifest in the simplest, humblest form possible…a tiny, helpless baby. If it’s possible God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for us (John 3:16). And if we can look into the eyes of our children and feel a love for them so great that we can’t put it into words — can’t it also be possible that that same God loves us infinitely more than we can imagine?
It is more than possible, my friend. It’s real.
This week, I pray for an increase in LOVE in your life. May the God that IS love bring you to a deeper understanding of the true, unfathomable, and abiding love he has for you. And whenever you delight in the mere presence of someone you love, I pray you receive a glimpse of the delight our Father takes in you, too. May this be an Advent of Love for you.