Hearts of Love

Sermon Reflection from Sunday, December 23, 2018 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Mother Mary focused on the essence of the one whose arrival we celebrate in this liturgical season.  As we hear and understand throughout our lives as the family of Christ, God is Love.  Love is the central tenet of our faith and ministry as our Lord Christ’s hands, feet, and eyes in the world.  As the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  Another of my personal favorites is from the Gospel of John where Jesus says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Mother Mary used the story of the Grinch who stole Christmas as an example of what can happen to people at times.  As children our primary place of growing our hearts in love is at home, but as with the Grinch, some people experience pain and heartache that cause the opposite.  Our hearts can become guarded and hardened by painful events we endure.  The best way out of this circumstance is analogous to the Grinch’s eventual epiphany – to learn the truth of our love for one another through the immeasurable love God gives to us.  The Grinch learned that Christmas doesn’t come through material things and neither does ours.  We are to know that the love of God is the invisible wellspring that feeds and sustains us through all our lives.  Our Lord Christ needs a spacious heart for love that does something – that is, that love itself is hidden in our hearts and we display it through outward manifestation.  Danish theologian and philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s metaphor for God’s love that fills our hearts is a placid lake that is constantly fed by springs, a silent source of renewal and refreshment that keeps the water clean, clear and beautiful.  The silent source of strength and renewal are the springs, and the outward manifestation of that strength and beauty is the lake. The celebration of Advent is our annual reminder of God’s Christmas wish list for all of us – repentance, metanoia, and Godly judgement whereby we are renewed and strengthened and learn the true meaning of the Advent and Christmas seasons as our hearts grow in the knowledge and love of God.

In closing Mother Mary wished everyone a blessed, happy Christmas, where we receive all that God has in store for us.  As it says in the Magnificat, the Song of Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . for the Mighty One has done great things for me.”