Second week of advent: love
Today starts the second week of Advent and each week we will focus on one of the candles on an Advent wreath.
As I mentioned in my last post, I have shared a devotional which you can use with your family. Each year I would copy it and change it around so it would suit the times. Now I have a five- year old grandson who can read so I change words like “fear not” to “don’t be afraid.” I also make the words easy to read and only use “one child” rather than both if the second child can’t read or there is only one child. Add things if you have more kids.. To see the devotional CLICK HERE
Each Advent candle stands for something. One is for hope, one is for love, one is for joy and one is for peace. There is a fifth candle that is lit on Christmas to remind Christians of the light Jesus brings to the world. Today we talk about Love.
Love is what makes a house a home and at Christmas you can see that love as you start to drag out the old decorations. There are things grandma made, that centerpiece your mother always loved and the ornament someone made in second grade. It’s all a part of the love that surrounds the holiday.
Are you missing someone you love the year at Christmas? We all are. This is what Christmas is all about–- God sent his son Jesus, who was born in a manger. He lived as a person and then died and was raised to Heaven so that we could have eternal life. We know our loved ones are in Heaven and they’ll be there to greet us, but for now, they are also in our hearts here on Earth with us every day. We can try to incorporate the great things they would do in our every day life.
It would be very easy to dwell on the fact that some who made my Christmases so great all my life are not here– and of course that comes to mind sometimes. It’s only natural to miss someone. But what I try to do is keep some of the things they did alive. That’s where traditions come in.
When we dwell on loss– or possible loss– or “what will happen in the future?” it makes us fearful. It’s understandable if losing a loved one causes you some fear. It’s understandable if having a sick loved one causes you fear. How about if you own a business or have a job that is being affected by the current pandemic? It’s the fear of the unknown. It has been said there are only two true emotions: love and fear. Maybe we can use LOVE to eliminate fear in our lives.
Every day we have stress and problems—that’s just part of life– and the thought of the future sometimes makes us afraid. When things seem to be crashing down on us it all seems magnified. These are the times we have to learn to manage our fears. For me, I use my Christian faith. I read somewhere that it says don’t be afraid 365 times in the Bible—that’s one for every day.
When I am scared, I light my candle and find my Bible verses to help me stay calm. I look for those songs that have comforting messages. There was a time I was fearful on an airplane every time it shook due to turbulence. Now I keep little Bible verse cards in my purse and when that happens I take them out.
When I read the Bible verse “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” it calms me down. God has plans for me. He wants to see me prosper– this is because He loves me. If He has plans for my future then I’m going to get through this turbulence.
(Side note about turbulence on airplanes. The pilots and crew take these flights every day, several times a day. They know there will be a little turbulence when flying into Denver even on a clear day. Picture the path an airplane is on as a road. Sometimes the road is bumpy so enjoy the bumps.)
The flight won’t always turbulence, it will get smooth again. It’s the same for you in any situation, you will have bumps along the way. This isn’t your last hurrah. You have a lot of life left in you– and a lot of things to accomplish so keep going and while you are at it, keep trying to look at the world in love and try to find things that give you peace.
As I said last week, we need a little less negativity and a lot more nativity.
There is a beautiful song written in 1885 by a woman named Christina G. Rosetti, and it has been put to music in the form of a Christmas carol. The Christian band Jars of Clay recorded it. Here are a couple of stanzas:
Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign.
Jesus is love and as we huddle in our homes during COVID-19, let’s try to think up fun traditions, read special Christmas readings, get out the treasured decorations– and spread the love. It’s NOT the time to “give up.” It’s the time for our light to shine through the darkness, in the form of love!
Why don’t we use this December to train our minds to look at people and situations through love? Instead of assuming you don’t agree with someone or you don’t like their idea, why not ask them about it and talk it over? And if someone’s actions or words make you mad, why not try praying to God to change YOUR heart so you can accept them better. You probably won’t be able to change people’s minds but you can change the way you feel towards that person if you try looking at what they are doing or saying through love.
There was a great movie in the 1970’s called Ice Castles about an ice skater who lost her eyesight. Melissa Manchester sang the theme song. If you think about this song as a love song from God (“Knowing You’re beside me I’m all right”) it is a very poignant song for these times. A visually impaired person can “see” the good in things, just as we all can– if we look at things through the eyes of love.
When you look at things through love, you are trying to see the best in people or at least understand them and give them a break. When we are grateful for what we have, we tend to not be as stressed and that in turn helps us see things in a good perspective. If we want to have a great life, we must expect the best from people– not the worst– and when we do that we appreciate what we have more. We must look at life through the eyes of love.
Another thing we can do this year is go back to the things that used to make us happy; things we may not have done in a while.
When was the last time you read “A Visit From St. Nicholas” or “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus?” Watch some Christmas movies, make a craft, look at pictures– yes, and cry a bit if it stirs up tender emotion– then turn on your favorite Christmas music. You can control how your “holidays” goes for you. Don’t let the negativity of the world ruin your time. Let the NATIVITY dominate your Christmas as you begin to look at all things through love. Choose Happy.
Sally Tippett Rains is a motivational speaker, inspirational writer and author of 13 books, including Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation. She is the volunteer Executive Director of Rainbows for Kids and content manager for STLSportsPage.com.
The mother of two sons and grandmother of two grandsons, Sally loves Christmas. Her favorite thing to do is watch Hallmark or other Christmas movies with her husband Rob– or play games with her family.
“If anyone needs special prayers at this holiday time– and during COVID-19, I am always willing to pray for you, just let me know. I am always honored when someone asks me to pray for them.
“Remember to enjoy the entire Christmas holiday time– don’t work so hard just to be exhausted on the 24th and 25th. Spread it out. Don’t let negativity steal your joy.”
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt