Big Love. Like Starbucks Venti Love.
Little beats Starbucks coffee. My keyboard rattles simply anticipating the resounding "Amen" I know I'll hear for that one. But to me there's at least one thing that adds a little sugar to the java, and that's enjoying it with people you care about.
I had the pleasure of meeting friends for church at Cool Spring Baptist Church yesterday morning before our coffee date. It was the perfect service for us to get together. It was the 4th and final Sunday of Advent. The candle for this particular Sunday is commonly regarded as the candle of love.
In his message, Cool Spring's pastor Brad Hoffmann explained that we often talk about love, but seldom know how to define it. He defined love as caring, and he used the following acrostic for CARE to teach us how to love better:
I listened to this message with friends I haven't known very long. In terms of time spent together - we're relative strangers. But as I listened to Pastor Hoffmann describe love, there was no doubt in my mind it is love that has forged our friendship. Love that has taken time out of the friendship equation.
Each one of us was drawn together out of concern for a family that tragically lost a loved one. Our hearts broke differently for this family's pain, but we were drawn to them by a united concern. So now we take action. We meet up for church or coffee. We run. We share our faith. We try to lift others out of darkness into the light we've seen waiting for this family on the other side of the hardest day imaginable. If truth be told, we've come to accept this as our responsibility. This beautiful young woman who lost her life was a smile that brightened many corners of the world. We've accepted the charge to be her smile. We gladly own the responsibility of caring for the world in a way that makes her impact feel far less gone than she is. And finally, even though we all have different ways of expressing that love, we've committed to expressing the kind of love she did: Godly love.
After my church and coffee date with these awesome friends, I made my way to New Song, my family's church, where Pastor Mark added the perfect ending to the morning. He wondered out loud, with beautiful poetry, have our hearts grown complacent to the awe that should surround the Christmas story.
God's voice had been silent for hundreds of years. When he chose to finally speak again, it was to a lowly group of shepherds - not society's elite. An angel appearing at this time, in this setting, to share the earthly arrival of God's love, is so much more than a bible verse or an annual tradition. This was God's way of putting an exclamation point on how much he cares for us, how much he wants us to know what love truly looks like, and how much he wants us to share it with everyone. Nope, this wasn't a cook to order verse for His upcoming best seller, this was Him showing up in the biggest of ways with jaw-dropping smallness.
That's what me and my friends were sitting in a small section of a big row in a big church yesterday. We were jaw-dropping smallness. But I'm proud to say, for as long as I've known these friends they've been friends who care. They may not be God's voice snapping us out of a daydream after a few thousand years of silence. Maybe they aren't angels shining glory upon unsuspecting shepherds. But they are carrying love forward in the biggest of ways. They are reflecting the wonder of the Christmas story.
To read previous entries of this Christmas 2015 series, click below: