Advent Devotions 2017
Day Sixteen
December 18, 2017

Love is a Verb

In Knoxville, Tennessee this summer, it came to me for the first time: the four Sundays of Advent flow in a logical, and to my way of thinking, a needed sequence. The youth camp Unidiversity where I helped chaperone a dozen of our young people took the themes of Advent one day at a time instead of for a week; and at that pace, eureka! I put it all together.

Consider: hope and love can be verbs or nouns, but joy and peace can only serve as nouns. Until we take the actions of hope and love, neither we nor our neighbors will experience the states of joy and finally peace. A Sunday School classmate for many years has disagreed with Saint Paul.  For my friend, hope, not love, is “the greatest of these.” Hope is a prerequisite for faith which, in turn, enables us to love. I see his point and can’t disagree.

This hope is not a Pollyannaish, pie-in-the-sky exercise in wishful thinking, like “I hope the Redskins win the Super Bowl come January.”  No, it is a hope based on past experiences which we and others have enjoyed.  We can rightfully hope that things can be made right in this world; and that hope is based on experience: God has promised it and history is replete with examples of God keeping His word. How many promises has God kept in your life and mine?

And so, this week we come to “love.”  We have the hope that if we risk loving our fellows as God has loved us, God will be with us. We have the hope, or realistic expectation, that if we love unconditionally, it will make a difference in our world.  We have the hope that if we only ask, God will supply our every need enabling us to love with confidence.

As the years go by, I have come to learn it really is better to give than receive.  Don’t tell my grandkids, but I take far more pleasure in giving them presents than in receiving their gifts.  Francis of Assisi (whom legend credits with creating the first “live nativity”) was on to something centuries ago when he prayed, “God…grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love.”

Advent is often associated with watchful waiting and anticipation. But as for loving, the world cannot wait. The presents under the tree may stay unwrapped until Christmas morn, but our loving presence in the word must not wait.

Hope is a verb.

Love is a verb.

Just do it, and the joy and peace of Christ will follow.

Written by Scott Leake
Art by Townsend