Love Well in Advent
I recently reread the book “Love Does” by Bob Goff. It is a book focused on the action of love, as the title suggests. Author Bob Goff argues that we need to emphasize that love is a verb and it should be constantly driving us to do things. As I prepare my heart for the birth of Christ, I have been focusing on the ways ‘love does’ in the Christmas story and the ways I can show that ‘love does’ this Advent season.
Most striking to me as I think about the birth of Christ is the group of people who gather at the birth place. It was kind of an odd bunch! Mary and Joseph, who were strangers to the residents of Bethlehem area, a few lowly shepherds from nearby fields, some animals, and a little baby boy who would change the world. The shepherds coming to that place, Mary and Joseph welcoming them in to that personal and sacred moment is what love in action looks like to me. Total strangers finding comfort in the community that they chose to create between them, united by the Christ child in love. It is important to note that they had to choose to create that community, to share that bond of love. Although they were strangers, they made that choice to come together in love, instead of remaining apart due to unfamiliarity with each other.
I reflect on the ‘strangers’ in my own life and in my community. Who are the people I will not find in the inn? Who are the lowly shepherds who are usually isolated in their fields? God elevated people in this story who would usually be seen as those on the ‘outskirts’ of the story. People who are not particularly notable, but still there. How do I elevate and love those people like God? How am I doing at choosing to create community with them, united by the love of Christ?
When we think about love as being something we do, we begin the process of loving well. This advent season, I want to be better about showing that ‘love does’ in the ways that I follow God and reach out to those around me, just like those who gathered on a sacred, silent night many years ago. The shepherds showed that ‘love does’ when they listened to the angels and sought out Mary and Joseph. Mary and Joseph showed that ‘love does’ when they welcomed strange shepherds and shared in community with them. I want to be better about not allowing strangeness and discomfort keep me from pursuing the community of love God is asking me to lean into and create. I want to act in love, even if it takes me to some odd places. I hope you will join me in that pursuit of finding ways to show that loving well starts by recognizing that ‘love does’ this Advent season.
-Erynn Dahlke, YOUTH 2019 Emcee