Life Notes—December 8, 2011
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” Isaiah 61:1-2
When I consider what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, I am led to what it means to love God and others. Indeed, Jesus told his disciples the most important commandment was to love God, followed closely by loving our neighbor as ourselves. And that leads me to consider the different forms love takes. Certainly that does not mean we should love our neighbors in a romantic way, as we would a spouse or significant other. Nor does not mean we are to love them as we would an infant, being available 24/7 for their every need. On the other hand, it cannot mean loving indirectly, as we might love a book, a landscape or a television show.
But love takes many forms and we do ourselves and others a disservice by confusing love with lust, infatuation or other fleeting emotions. Christian love requires sacrifice and focused attention over a period of time. Everyone in our lives has needs, if only occasional needs for attention, recognition and company. And if we love them as we should, we will sacrifice some of our time and resources to help meet their needs. And during times of acute and critical needs, our love focuses us on them even more.
The above passage is part of a song from Old Testament days and recorded in the book of Isaiah. It tells us to ‘bring good news to the oppressed,’ to ‘bind up the brokenhearted,’ to ‘proclaim liberty to the captives,’ to ‘comfort all who mourn.’ These are solid instructions for loving our neighbors. This is possible because the spirit of the Lord is upon the lover. Certainly, the spirit of the Lord is upon us today, too, encouraging and pleading for us to love one another as Christ loved us.
During this season of Advent, as we prepare again for the birth of Love, may we commit to opening our eyes to some of the needs around us? Yes, it may seem overwhelming. Yes, we may feel inadequate to the task. And yes, we may internalize some of the pain and suffering of others. But that is the nature of the love to which we are called. We give as we are able, and we receive as we could never imagine.
This Sunday is the third of Advent and the theme is Joy. Tom’s downtown sermon is “The Gift of Joy,” based on Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch’s west campus sermon is “Open Up Family,” based on Luke 2:8-20. Contemporary worship there begins at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Put some skin on God’s love this season…
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator