How many times can we talk about love?
From how many different angles can love be examined?
I hope every time you go to church love is mentioned. It is the overarching narrative of Scripture, the drumbeat to which the story marches.
Yet on a week like this, the last week of Advent, love can be difficult to write about. We have heard so much about it that our ears can become somewhat numb to its message. And then your partner goes and writes a lot of what you had to say, and leaves you back where you began. (If you haven’t read Trevor’s post on love and fear yet, do so because it’s wonderful.)
So I have one very simple thing to say about love as we move this week from Advent to the celebration of Christmas. And it begins with Mary.
One of my favorite worship songs is taken from Luke 1, in what we commonly refer to as the “Magnificat”. It’s a song sung by Mary as she considers this situation she has been thrust into, carrying the Christ child. There must have been all kinds of emotions running through her during those days, but this is what comes out:
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
(Luke 1:46b-55 NLT)
What I love about these words is that they are resolute. They are the words of a young girl who most people would now look upon with scorn. She is a young girl who very few will believe. She is a young girl facing the real possibility of death and disownment.
There are so many things she could express as a result of her situation.
But she decides to be thankful.
She decides to live in hope.
She decides live into a greater story.
She decides to accept her circumstances and be faithful to her calling.
Because that’s what love does.
The more I live in this world the more this has become the hallmark of love. I am a huge feeler, so I experience so much of the world through my emotions. These rise and fall and are often gone quickly as the next one makes its way in.
But love is much more than a feeling, it is a decision.
I love my wife, so I will choose to be faithful to her today regardless of how I feel. I love my children, so I will overlook their youthful shortcomings and treat them with gentleness. I love my neighbor, so I will choose to overlook the guy who cut me off on my way to work this morning and instead assume he didn’t see me.
Today I will choose, like Mary did.
I will forgive.
I will be thankful.
I will speak with kindness.
I will be patient.
I will be joyful no matter what pain or heartache visits me.
I will see my life as part of a much bigger and better story.
I will have hope.
Because love decides.