Dear Church Family and Community,
One of my closest friends is Ed Rhee. I actually met him years ago at a summer camp near Chambersburg. This is remarkable because we both grew up in different parts of Philadelphia. Ed was the kid with the big glasses who was a piano virtuoso. The camp would regularly ask him to play I Sing the Mighty Power of God, and somehow, I heard jazz notes every time.
Ed and I have known each other since our middle school years. We have a friendship that has lasted for over twenty years, across the country, and through many seasons of life and faith. One thing about knowing each other that long is that we know some things about each other that might embarrassing. For example, Ed loved Michael W. Smith music. This is more than okay to say here, because he doesn’t read this blog.
Ed introduced me to Michael W. Smith, and one of his songs, Give It Away, really resonated with me. Actually, this song was so inspiring that Ed, or I, may have written a dramatic play based on its lyrics. The entire song can be summed up in one line: Love isn’t love, until you give it away. A verse within that song has always stuck out to me as well:
There was a man who walked on water
He came to set the people free
He was the ultimate example
Of what love can truly be
‘Cause His love was His life
And He gave it away
Love isn’t love, until you give it away. Jesus himself speaks on this when he says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We live in a culture that has many ways to define love. We live in a world that calls many things love, that in reality, aren’t love at all. We even have pictures and concepts of love that fall short of what God calls love. Although to truly understand love, we must turn to and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Love is Christ in us, Christ for us, and Christ with us. Love is Christ leaving heaven to come to earth. Love is Immanuel, God with us. Love is Christ for us – the God of this universe coming to show us how to live to please God, to save us from our sins, and to invite us to partner with the Holy Spirit to create God’s Kingdom…on earth as it is in heaven. In Advent we wait expectantly for Christ’s coming, and in life we live out of the reality that Christ has come, Christ still comes to us, and Christ is coming again!
To prepare for this week’s service, please take time to read and pray through Luke 2:1-20. After you read, take a few minutes to think of a few ways God has shown love to you. If you have time, perhaps write out a few of the ways that God has shown love to you. I find this to be an eye-opening and perspective-changing exercise and spiritual discipline. Lastly, I would like to invite you to take a few moments to just rest in God’s presence before giving God thanks for His deep love for you.
Also, in this week’s service, our Children’s Choir (directed by Angela Jefferies) will be singing for us. This is always a joy and a blessing, and you will definitely want to join us for this. And if you missed last week’s sermon on Zechariah, Joy, and Celebrating God’s Blessings, please be sure to check it out here on our website, or through our sermon podcast on Soundcloud, Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. Joy is found in trusting in God’s promise of joy coming in the morning, practicing “J-O-Y” (putting Jesus first, living for others, and then thinking about you), regularly doing what brings you joy, and in all things, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus.
May the love of God hold you and keep you. May the Spirit of God guide you and transform you. And may Christ our Savior be your life and light.
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Luke 2:14)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104