Advent, Part 4: Love
By Gavin Bennett & Bethany Allen
Candle Lighting & Communion (2 minutes)
In the Advent season, lighting a candle is used to symbolize Jesus being the Light of the World who comes into our darkness. So grab any candle from somewhere in your house, dim the lights, light the candle, and take communion as one person reads the following prayer out loud:
God of Love,
Your Son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us.
He is a sign of our love,
Of your light coming into our darkness.
Help us to walk in that love during the weeks of Advent.
May we celebrate the first coming of Jesus,
even as we await his return.
We pray all this in the name of Jesus, our Savior.
Read This Overview (5 min)
Though it is often overused and misused in our culture, love is something that we as humans not only desire but need, at both a conceptual and an emotional level; it is the glue to our relational connection and wholeness.
And it’s not just a human thing: God’s base emotion towards us is love. When God looks at us, he brims over with delight and affection. The Scriptures even go as far as saying that God is Love, meaning that the fundamental element making up the Trinity is Love. And so it’s no surprise that love plays a central role in the Christmas story—from Joseph’s protective love for Mary, to Mary’s deep love for her newborn son, to the Father’s love for us in sending Jesus in the first place, love is laced the whole way through. As the people of God, we get to sit in this love, abiding in it, and letting it wash over us. And as we allow it to reach us to our core, we realize that it is our call to embody it, as well.
Scripture Reading (5 min)
Each week of Advent, we want to read aloud a portion of the birth story of Jesus that helps us look deeper at each of the four themes of Advent (hope, peace, love, and joy).
1 John 4v7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Reflection Questions (30 min)
Spend some time working through the following questions:
- Where did I experience God’s love this last week?
- Where do I need to experience God’s love this coming week?
- How can I embody God’s love this week?