Open to Love - A Meditation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Blog Post December 15, 2021

A Meditation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent:

Open to Love

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ~ Matthew 22:37-39

Let all that you do be done in love. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

My grandmother, Flora Belle Stott, who served along with my grandfather as a Methodist missionary in Japan in the 1930s, lived to be 100 years old. She was a woman of deep faith, kindness, strength, compassion, commitment, persistence, and most of all, love. For most of my life, into her 100th year, I can remember her so often saying, “tell the story of Jesus and His love”. It was God’s call on her life. I heard her say, and watched her live those words over and over again…in conversation, in leadership, in actions, in prayers…every single day of her long, faithful journey as a servant of Christ. She inspires me, even today.

During this season of Advent, as we ponder the coming of God’s greatest gift of love, our Lord and savior, Jesus, how we can be open to love in our daily lives? How can we tell the story of Jesus and His love? What would it look like in your life to be open to love?

  • Love for ALL children of God, ALL made in the image of God? What if we as individuals, and we as a church lived our lives remembering that we will never look into the eyes of someone that God does not love?
  • Love for our neighbors…the poor, the refugee, the outcast, the persecuted, the other?
  • Love for our neighbors…the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned?
  • Love for our neighbors…with whom we agree and disagree?
  • Love for our neighbors…by caring for God’s gift of creation, and being committed to climate justice?
  • How do all these things call us to action?

As I think about my Grandmother’s life, especially during this season with so many precious memories of being together, I can connect her faithful example to all of those questions. She loved God, and she loved all of God’s children. She shared that love, the love of Jesus, with family and friends, and with her neighbors that she might meet, and those around the world that she would never meet. She put that love into action in countless ways throughout her life, even in her 100th year as her health was failing. She volunteered. She was a leader. She was a teacher. She was generous. She used her voice to mentor, challenge, and encourage others. She cared deeply about feeding the hungry in our community and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the CROP walk. She cared about God's creation. She was a prayer warrior with a deep and active faith. She lived a life that told the story of Jesus and His love.

One of my favorite Christmas hymns and choral anthems, Love Came Down at Christmas, is based on the beautiful poem written by Christina Rossetti, in 1885. It speaks of the gift of love that we wait for during this Advent season, the gift of love that makes all the difference when we are open to it, the gift that my grandmother spent her life sharing.

Love Came Down at Christmas

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

May the incarnate, divine love that was born at Christmas be born anew for you this year. We live in a world waiting, needing, even aching for that love. May it stir you to action and compel you to love your neighbor…seen and unseen, near and far, even in radical and new ways. And, may YOU tell the story of Jesus and His love, every single day.

Open to love,

Lynne Gilbert, District Administrator
Northern Piedmont District

Open to Love A Meditation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent