Faith, Hope and Love – Part 3: Love – an Advent Reflection on 1 John 4:7-21 (two years after Sandy Hook)

We may not want to admit it, but it feels like there is a deficit of love in this world.

sandy.hook.teddy.3The news  seems to be only getting worse and worse. Since Sunday there have been hostages taken in Australia, a horrible school shooting and killing over one-hundred-thirty children and teachers in Pakistan; protests continue to cry out            “I can’t breathe” across the U.S.  Are people listening?  Where is the love?

Sunday was also the second anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.  And these were just the headlines.

Two memories come to mind after the shooting at Sandy Hook  two years ago.

The first was that Tammie and I signed-up to be secret readers in Mia’s classroom that day. We had just seen the news and drove over to the school.  Although the administration and teachers knew what had happened – the kids weren’t told. We could see the duress in the teacher’s eyes, and the ignorant bliss in the children’s who were excited to hear a story. I remember looking into those kids’ eyes, including our daughter’s, and thinking of the parents who would not see that same sparkle in their child’s eyes again and my heart broke.

The second memory was of a recital we hosted at church that evening.  The teacher stood up to welcome the families and acknowledge the hard work of his students. He acknowledged the tragedy of the day, and while starting to cry but keeping his poise he said, “at times like this, we need to sing.”  There are times when we need to sing. His witness of love for those kids their families and of the power of music was something I hope I don’t ever forget.

We want to make a difference, we want to share the love, we want to believe in the goodness of people (and the goodness even in ourselves). We hope that love could be the story of our time and not so much heartbreak, but it is really difficult to see, if not believe.

I wish God would just swoop in and stop it. Don’t you?

I want God to declare, “ENOUGH!” with majesty, power, and might along with a sky illuminated with the whole company of angels that announce the coming of the Lord. Then all the world’s problems would just cease with fear and trembling.

But you know, just as I do, that is not God’s way. The way of love is not a display of power and might – it is revealed in weakness. The vulnerability of a child born in a stable invites us to expose our vulnerability. Jesus comes not to call the wealthy and influential but the unclean, forgotten, unforgivable and ostracized to follow him. In doing so he invites our compassion to the least of these. His death on a cross invites our sacrifice for the sake of others.

Power and might can’t offer those things. Self-giving love can.

Do you remember the teddy bears which lined the street in Newtown after the shooting at Sandy Hook? They kept coming and coming and coming.

Love does that.

Do you remember the Lutheran Comfort Dogs from Illinois? (https://sinibaldo.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/send-in-the-luthreran-pooches/) I recently heard that Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown adopted its own Comfort Dog. (http://www.ctklutherannewtown.org/newtown-comfort.html)

Love does that.

Did you participate in a prayer vigil? In New Canaan the communities of faith came together with the First Selectman to stand outside on a cold December Evening and pray. Sometimes the only thing left to do is sing. We stood together and sang, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

Love does that.

I heard a story from Fergusson, MO this week about their library. It stayed open when the schools closed so children would have a safe place to meet; so parents and children could have a safe place to be together; and so teachers could keep meeting with their students. Love does that.  The Ferguson Library has been receiving donations.  They now have more new books than they have volunteers to shelve them, and they have received monetary gifts equal to about a year’s budget.

Love does that.

What terror never realizes is love will find a way to reach out to that school on Pakistan, and the people of Sydney, Australia and wherever people are mourning. Love weeps alongside others to lament with them, and sings when we need it most. Love does that.
Did you know that love abounds? This morning love filled the plates of close to eighty people at the Soup Kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church here in Old Saybrook by the hands of about a dozen of our people.  (http://www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=41&Itemid=40)

Love does that.

These acts of love didn’t bring about world peace.

They didn’t end our social woes or abolish violence.

They didn’t end world hunger. 

They made a very small difference against the weight of the world’s problems.

But to those individuals who were consoled, prayed for, connected with, and fed it made all the difference. Each of these examples (and so many other examples each of us participate in every day) point to the Light that is coming – especially in days of great darkness.

Love does that.

A week from now we will celebrate the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.      He will enter this world not with power and might so that all will tremble before him; but in the most vulnerable way possible – childbirth in a stable. God loves us like that so  we who love him, can offer ourselves with that same vulnerability to others.

Love does that.

There is not a deficit of love in the world.

To those you love in the name of Christ it is everything. Love boldly. Keep loving boldly. Christ is coming!

PGS

___

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the Day of Judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear;   for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.            (1 John 4:7-21)

A sermon after Sandy Hook, December 16, 2012:

https://sinibaldo.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/sermon-on-luke-315-18-filled-with-expectation-after-the-sandy-hook-shooting/

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About geoff sinibaldo

Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Change Proponent, Goofball, Seeking Faithfulness in the 21st Century
This entry was posted in Advent/Christmas, Advent/Christmas Posts, Advent/Christmas Sermons and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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