Intentionally Entering Advent

The simple story of Christmas is God loves us. John tells us "for God so loved the world that he gave his only son..." because it's the heart of the incarnation. Jesus becomes human, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." God seeks after us with the sacrificial and unconditional love of a Father who is willing to send his only son for the sake of the whole world. 

Augustine said, "God loves you as if you were the only one in the world to love" (paraphrased). God loves us. A lot. 

John writes in his epistle, "this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin." In a relationship with God, love is defined not by what we do, but what God has already done.

Yes, I know.  God loves the world. He loves everyone. He loves me. 

So how do we make that simple message of God's love go from I know, to I experience, to I am changed? Because unless we make it personal, we keep focusing on the do of Christmas. We try hard to please, to prepare, to plan, to give presents, all with expectations of the doing being enough, the doing making things right. 

Slow down, listen to God's word. That takes courage. It takes time. It can't be experienced on the fly, it needs to be experienced intentionally. 

I think about the 10k Amy and I ran before we were married. It was a hot day--80 degrees--and we were running along the bike path through Playa Del Rey. There not enough water stations along the route, so everyone crowded around to get their Dixie Cup sized replenishment. As those became crowded I began to skip the water stations and told Amy I'd run ahead and meet her at the finish line. 

I met her there, but she was dehydrated and passed out, carried by two men to the paramedic tent. She spent a few days in the hospital to replenish the fluids she lost. 

Some years that's how the Christmas season feels. 
Too fast, too crowded, too impatient. 
Four ounces of joy here, 
four ounces of peace there.

The truth is, He loves us. He really loves us. He loves me. He really loves me. That's why Jesus came at Christmas. It's what God has already done for us.

Advent is a time to daily and intentionally drink from that deep deep well alone and with others. It's a time put away the Dixie Cups and sip from that overflowing tumbler of truth and  
know his love,  
experience his love, 
be changed by his love. 

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