By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Christmas is about love. It is so easy to be cynical about love, to be hurt by what looks like love, to give up on ever being truly loved. What is love, sang Tina Turner, but a second hand emotion? When we are hurt, our heart can shut down. We can grow cold and jaded, singing with Tina: “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” Sometimes in my life, my heart has grown cold. Sometimes I lose my passion. That is when God has broken in and renewed my heart with his love. I remember one time when he literally baptized my heart with love. It seemed like I was walking in an ocean of God’s love and healing. I wish that I could live there daily.
Love means many different things to many people. For some, love is expressed through gift-giving. We can thank the three wise men bringing gifts for the flood of presents given every Christmas. But love is more than just giving people gifts. Love is also about quality time. We live in a frantically busy culture, particularly on the North Shore, where it seems like there is never enough time to do all that we want to do. It is so easy in our task orientation to lose the relational focus. Love stops to listen. Love puts down the newspaper and the cell phone to give true face-to-face time. Love is curious, open and present. Love is willing to change. Love is willing to grow. Love is willing to admit that we are often wrong.
Love chooses to encourage when everyone else is tearing down another person. Love, in the words of 1 Corinthians 13, never gives up on you, always believes in you, always takes a chance on you. Love realizes that sticks and stones do break our bones, that words will hurt and crush us. Love says no to bullying. Love grieves over the tragic loss of Amanda Todd. Love never gives up, never lets go, always speaks blessing. Love adds value. Love cares. Love respects. Love allows you to be yourself.
Love doesn’t just talk the talk. It walks the walk. Love is practical, down-to-earth. Love is a cup of cold water, the gift of a meal, a roof over our head. Love is the washing of another’s feet, the wiping of their brow. Love is meeting people’s needs. Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche Community, said that love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness. The Great Physician said that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Love is the way of the cross, the way of suffering, the way of unselfishness.
Love is both a verb and a noun. To say that God is love is true, but it can feel abstract. What if God put love into action by entering our neighbourhood? What if God came down at Christmas? What if Christmas is actually about God embracing us?
This Christmas I invite you to look again at the baby in the manger, the Christ child. Ask yourself if love came down at Christmas. Ask yourself if this love might touch your heart. The greatest is love. May love fill you, your family and your friends to overflowing during this Advent/Christmas season.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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