(Tuesday, December 20th)

Defend: to drive danger or attack away from; to maintain or support in the face of argument or hostile criticism

Dignify: to give distinction to, confer dignity upon; the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed

I was serving as a youth director at an urban neighborhood church when I first met Beth. Beth suffered from a mental anguish that kept her homeless and often fearful. One day she stopped by the church office for a bit of money, and we began chatting. She soon began stopping by more often as our friendship developed. I was willing to give her a warm (or cool) place to rest for as long as she felt comfortable. There were times when the experience was rather difficult, when she would be especially anxious and unclean. But there were other times when she was quite delightful and insightful.

One evening Beth stopped by as our youth group was preparing an Advent dinner for the congregation, and I invited her to stay for dinner. She was visibly nervous, but she was also quite eager to have a warm meal.

While I was busy in the kitchen, Beth must have sensed some fear, and she began cursing in the dining room. Soon I was surprised to see her being escorted, wide-eyed, out of the building by one of our church members, a retired police officer who was trying to protect the people who had gathered for dinner. In a desperate moment, I wrapped my arms around Beth, explaining that she was my friend, asking him to let her stay, promising there would be no more problems. When he refused, I threatened, “If she leaves, then I am leaving, too!” With some harsh words as to how much that would please him, he took her out the door.

I was quite shaken. But I could not leave – I was responsible for leading the worship service that evening while our pastor was away!

My sermon message included thoughts about the love God holds for all of humanity. And during the sharing of Communion, I gave bread to the man who had upset me earlier, now kneeling at the railing.

“The Body of Christ, given for you.”

For all of us…

After the service, I was delighted to find Beth in the parking lot! She was laughing, seemingly carefree, despite the fact that she had been treated badly. I realized that by defending her in her helplessness, I was also dignifying her as my friend. Our unusual relationship was solidified when she realized it was mutual.

There were so many lessons in love that evening.

Advent Love is the love that defends.
Advent Love is the love of Jesus defending the woman caught in adultery (John 8).
Advent Love is the love that stands up for those who are being mistreated –
by protecting those who are being cursed,
and by embracing those who are being escorted out.

Advent Love is the love that dignifies.
Advent Love is the love of Jesus eating dinner with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2).
Advent Love is the love that respects and honors those who need it –
by claiming and naming one as a friend,
and by breaking bread with one who has been hurtful.

Advent Love defends. Advent Love dignifies. Advent Love sustains us through the unexpected encounters, strengthens us to defend the helpless, and stretches us to dignify the difficult.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be arrogant, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-18, 21 NRSVUE)

Definitions found at
Bible verses taken from
Photo by Karen


  1. Pingback: (Re-Blogging) Simply Soul Searching by Karen – HOPE SEEKER

%d bloggers like this: