Advent candle wreathExpectation often soars at Christmastime–a fervent hope that this year will be different than the perhaps stressful, disheartening, fractured ones that have come before.  We desire a Christmas like ones we see on TV–families gathered happily around a festive table sharing memories and laughter; visible love all around.  The reality is so different for some of us.  There is an empty chair where love is missing.  Offenses and misunderstandings resurface and familiar pain is unleashed once again.  We wait for love.

In my mind’s eye I picture God the Father waiting, cradling his Son, until the time was just right to release his Love to a waiting, broken world.  And God so loved us, that knowing the end from the beginning, and the terrible cost, he sent his Love just the same.

So the Word became human and made his home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  John 1:14

I’ve been thinking about Mary on the road to Christmas.  As she waited for the grueling journey to end, where was her focus?  Was she more consumed with the physical discomfort of her body, or awareness that she carried the precious Love of God within her?  Did that awareness strengthen and sustain her when there was only a stable to greet her, and when her little family had to flee and live as fugitives?  Love was with her, and a miracle of Christmas is that the same Love; Emmanuel is with us still.

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love …   Zephaniah 3:17

How then shall we live when life disappoints, and love seems illusive?

What if we invite Jesus to sit in that empty chair at the Christmas table, and to inhabit our celebrations, relationships, joys and sorrows?  God’s Love came down to us at Christmas, and Love is with us still.  We don’t have to wait for love any longer.  Let us wait with Love for his purposes to be fulfilled in your life and mine.

Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:2

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matthew 28:20

Prayer:  We praise and thank you, Father, for sending Love to us that first Christmas.  Thank you, Jesus, for loving us enough to become our Savior.  You are Love, and you promised that you will be with us always.  Holy Spirit, please give us a steadfast awareness of Your presence, and grace to live out our faith daily in the good times and the hard times.  We wait with Love for Your purposes to be fulfilled in ourselves and others.  Let Love be born once again in our hearts this Christmas.

In Christ Alone is not a Christmas song, but I think it is a love song.  This verse is about waiting with Love:

In Christ alone my hope is found.  He is my light, my strength, my song.

This cornerstone, this solid ground; firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace; when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.

My Comforter, my All in All; here in the love of Christ I stand.

~ Keith Getty/Stuart Townend

Contributed by Cheryl Cote