This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. (John. 3:16 The Message)
I love nativity sets. I collect them. I have big ones and small ones. I have a “crafty one” that I sewed and a Costco one; I have an Olive Wood set from Israel and a soap stone one from Niger, Africa. I love them and I will never tire of looking at them in stores. My children say, “Mom, you can’t buy another nativity set!!” They’re right. And I wasn’t going to buy another one, but I confess I did buy a small glass one from Value Village the other day at 50% off. (My Value Village obsession is a whole other story which has no devotional value whatsoever. But I digress . . .)
In this fourth week of Advent, we consider God’s gift of LOVE. John 3:16, of course, says it all: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. Wow! God’s love is a perfect love that holds nothing back, not even his Son.
As I have been setting up my various nativity sets, I have pondered this amazing truth, depicted within their scenes–that LOVE came down as a baby, took on flesh and became Immanuel–“God with us.” That LOVE came down by the humblest of means. That LOVE came down, knowing completely what lay ahead. Yes, LOVE came down for you and for me, as the carol says “. . . to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray . . .” and restore us to right relationship with God. That’s the story my nativity set tells.
Jesus is God’s gift of LOVE sent down to us to show us the redeeming LOVE of the Father. But there’s more.
When Jesus fulfilled his mission and went back to the Father, the Father sent us another gift of LOVE–the Holy Spirit. Why? So that Jesus could live in and LOVE through us. Love is an action–God demonstrated that to us. We, too, are now called to live and LOVE others in Jesus’ name.
1 John 4:7-11 says: My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love-so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us–perfect love! (The Message)
In a few weeks, I will wrap my beloved nativity sets and store them away until next Christmas. But I trust that God will re-tell their story in me and through me in the 365 days in between! May you also remember and experience his great LOVE for you this Christma,s and may you ever be a conduit of that LOVE to others.
And for the record, I will not buy another nativity set to add to my collection. I have enough.
Oh, who am I kidding . . . !!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of LOVE, Jesus who came to be my Saviour and the Saviour of the world. Thank you for loving me so much that you would do that! Help me to be rooted in that LOVE and to show that LOVE to all who cross my path. And if there is someone specific this week, help me to know how I can specifically love them in your name. Amen.
Contributed by Mandy Trask