(Monday, December 19th)

Enforce: to urge with energy; constrain, compel

Embrace: to hug; cherish, love; encircle, enclose; to take up especially readily or gladly; to avail oneself of; welcome; to take in or include as a part, item, or element of a more inclusive whole

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NRSVUE)

“You must love me.”

By the inflection in our words, we can easily change the intended meaning of this sentence. Said one way, you must love me can sound like a command. You must do this. You cannot do that. You must love me. But in a different context, with a different emphasis, the sentence can sound like a surprising response to a kindness. You made this gift for me? Wow, you must love me! You have been so kind to me. You must really love me!

In our passage for today, when asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus repeats the commandment from Deuteronomy, “You shall love the Lord your God…”

We are commanded to love God. And in a generously gracious way, God helps us to obey this command, not through strict enforcement, but through God’s loving embrace shown to us in Christ. This is our gift of Advent Love today.

The Advent Love of God has come to us first, without our invitation or preparation. God lovingly came to us in the birth of Jesus, while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Advent Love continues to embrace us even as we remain sinners. When we recognize how God has loved us first, how God has lavished abundant life on us all, and how God humbled Godself to become one with us, we could exclaim, “You must love me!” When we remember the life and love of Jesus and how God overcame death through his resurrection, we could exclaim, “You must love me!” When we realize that Christ remains with us through the Spirit, we could exclaim, “You must love me!”

We want to return love to the One who loves us so much.

I believe God is blessed by our love that arises from our genuine respect, gratitude, humility, and joy. I believe God is further blessed when we share that love to others with the same respect, gratitude, humility, and joy.

Love cannot be easily enforced but can be readily embraced.

This is our way of Advent Love.

Definitions from
Bible verses taken from
Photo by Karen


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