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Dec 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Advent Sunday 12/18/2022–Love



Welcome and Prayer: Karyn Jones

Good Morning

The Lord be with you

Our last advent candle represents LOVE.

Growing up, my parents made Christmas morning truly magical. Whether they had the money or not, “Santa always brought many gifts.” And even though my dad died just a week before Christmas, 31 years ago today, my mom still made that Christmas “special” for us kids, not because she had the “holiday spirit”, but because she LOVED us.

Not everyone here may love Christmas as much as I do, my husband included. During the holiday season, he’s given one “Scrooge Day,” after that, he’s not allowed to complain about the capitalism of Christmas.

And during the holiday season, we have so many opportunities to share LOVE. Whether it’s in gift-giving or going out of our way to do something nice for someone, we get filled with the holiday spirit of LOVE.

This week provided an example to share today. I love Disneyland. I love Christmas and I love Disneyland. Brett and I had an opportunity to go this week, but Brett does NOT like Disneyland. And so I tried to use the psychology of, “I would really like you to come with us, but then I had to let it go and let him make that decision. And he decided to go. To me, that was such an example of LOVE, because I know how much he does not like going to Disneyland. And . . . we had a good time, so that was cool.

But what does that have to do with LOVE and the baby Jesus?

Luke 2:10 says “But the Angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you.”

I found the following quote and I really loved it:

“God’s relentless, loyal love arrives in Jesus, and his affection for us drives him to give us the ultimate act of loyal love in his life, death, and resurrection.”

For me, that pretty much sums it all up, from Jesus’ humble birth, to his sacrifice on the cross. God’s love ARRIVES in a baby. For many people, there really is nothing more exciting than the expectation of the arrival of a new baby. But who could have thought, especially Mary and Joseph, that THIS little “bundle of joy” would change everything.

Joseph loved Mary enough to endure the embarrassment and shame. Mary loved her baby enough to trust the angel saying “Do Not Be Afraid.” And God loves us enough to show his love in such a human way. A baby.

The culmination of the Christmas story,
the response to the waiting of Advent,
Christ born to us, the incarnation of God’s LOVE.

God came to us in human form, to dwell among us, because the fullness of God’s love could not be expressed from a distance.

That’s pretty awesome!


Thank you God ,for this Christmas season,
a time to remind us of your love for all.
Thank you that you entrusted Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus so that we could experience the mystery,
that God’s LOVE is reflected in the eyes of a baby.
I pray as we go into this next week, with so many things to do, that we will take moments throughout each day to remember your unconditional love.
And if we happen to see a baby, that we would be reminded of your arrival into our life, that first Christmas.

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”
Malachi 1:1-3

Intro: Malachi is an odd little book

Like the other prophetic books he brings the word of the LORD to his people
– in Malachi’s time the spiritual culture of Jerusalem was deteriorating
• the priests had become careless and bored with their duties
• the people had lost their faith and broken covenants (with God and each other)
◦ as with the earlier prophets, God had a message for them
◦ but the way Malachi structures his book is unique and creative
– God pulls his people into arguments
• sometimes it sounds a lot like parents with their teenage children
A son honors his father . . . where is my honor? God asks (v. 6)
◦ each time he makes an accusation, they take the bait
“What are you talking about? How have we disrespected you?”
• in response to their objection, Malachi delivers God’s a full-length prophetic pronouncement

I should probably clarify for you,
– what lies behind God saying he loved Jacob and hated Esau
• Genesis tells us that these twin brothers struggled with each other while still within their mother
◦ Rebekah inquired of God what this rivalry meant and he told her:
Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger (Gen. 25:22-23)
• in time, Esau’s descendants became the nation of Edom and Jacob’s descendants the nation of Israel
◦ so though the two nations were related by blood, there was always tension between them
◦ when Israel was conquered, Edom exploited their defeat
Robert Alter, “Esau is Edom, and the bitter lingering memory of the Edomites’ collaboration with the Babylonians in the destruction of Jerusalem informs [and explains] these lines.”
◦ this contention appears in the prophecy of Amos
For three transgressions of Edom,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because he pursued his brother with the sword
and cast off all pity,
and his anger tore perpetually,
and he kept his wrath forever (1:11)
– so God’s answer to Israel’s question, “How have you loved us?” is this:
• he allowed Edom to disappear from the face of the earth,
◦ but preserved Israel even through devastation and exile
• sadly, by this time Israel had grown skeptical of God’s love for them

These are the verses that came to me for today’s Advent meditation

Christmas is a revelation of– love
– when reminded of this, I tend to think of our obligation to love
• we are, in fact, commanded to love
• John’s gospel quotes Jesus saying,
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me (Jn. 14:21)
◦ Jesus did not give us a stone tablet list of commandments like Moses gave to Israel
◦ there was only one instruction Jesus referred to as command
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (Jn. 15:12)
– so when Jesus says,
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him
• he shows us that love opens every vital door:
◦ the Father’s love for us,
◦ Jesus’ love for us,
◦ and Jesus’ self-manifestation to us
• how well we know Jesus, and how well we reflect Jesus, depends on how well we love
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn. 13:35)
◦ this is truly a radical love – for strangers and even for our enemies

However–Advent love is not this, it is not our obligation to love others

There was a love prior to our love
– a love that enters our hearts and inspires love
• ours is a secondary love, a derived love
◦ being loved, is how we learned to love
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
We love because he first loved us
(1 Jn. 4:16 and 19)
• Advent love was born in Bethlehem
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son (Jn. 3:16)
– love’s true nature is generous – love gives
lust says, “You are so wonderful, I must have you!”
love says, “You are so wonderful, I must give myself to you”
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine (Song 6:3)
◦ this is the most valuable gift – the gift of oneself
◦ David understood this, and especially in how love perceives the worship of God
I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing (2 Sam. 24:24)

Advent celebrates the most exquisite, extravagant Christmas gift ever

Jesus described this type of gift to his disciples
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (Jn.15:13)
– Paul elaborated on it in his letter to the Romans
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro. 5:7-8)
• John chimed in on it too:
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 4:9-10)
• what scripture reveals is that God loves us with the kind of love we need
◦ what is that kind of love?

I’ve been reading a book on Attention Deficit Disorder
– it tells my story so accurately, my picture should be on cover
• Gabor Maté is a doctor, whose experience is with family practice
◦ but his field of research includes trauma and child development
◦ ADD is a specialty field he has studied–he has also been diagnosed with ADD
• he doesn’t believe its hereditary or a chemical imbalance
◦ he’s convinced it results from a lack of nurturing in infancy and early childhood
◦ ADD children whose most important needs were not met
Maté, “So the first thing is to create some space in the child’s heart of hearts for the certainty that she is precisely the person the parents want and love. She does not have to do anything, or be any different, to earn that love—in fact, she cannot do anything, because the love cannot be won and cannot be lost. It is not conditional.”
– he explains how some parents, working on short-term goals,
• ruin their long-term relationship with their child
◦ I instinctively knew that what was most important with my kids and I,
◦ was that we would always have a close relationship
• Maté says parents have to take responsibility for the relationship
Maté, “The parents enthusiastically and genuinely invite the child into relationship. They do not issue declarations of love; they demonstrate day by day that they want the child’s company. They think of things to do together, or they just ‘hang out’ with the child, with an attitude of active attention. When they are with the child, they are fully there . . . .” “Being wanted and enjoyed is the greatest gift the child can receive. It is the basis of self-acceptance. ADD children, without exception, harbor a deep insecurity about themselves.”
◦ he emphasizes not attaching acceptance to performance
◦ whether criticized or praised, a child can feel “judged”
Maté, “People do not need judgments—they need acceptance.”
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world (Jn. 12:47)

Now I want you to hear this again:

“I have loved you,” says the LORD
Did you hear that? The perfect heavenly Parent is speaking to you
– God has composed poems to express his love for us
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isa. 49:15-16)

Can you allow yourself to receive God’s love?
– this is his Christmas gift to you – can you accept it?
• can you let God love you for you?
◦ love you exactly as you are
– that God loves us must be received into every neuron in our brains
• and every other cell in our bodies
• God’s love is a love that welcomes us,
◦ that doesn’t fluctuate with his mood or our actions
– “God can’t love me; I’m too awful”
• God knows how awful I am, but loves me (the true me) anyway
• and his love transforms me

Conclusion: When my brother and I were in grade school, Dad had a way of calling us home when we were running around outside in the neighborhood. He made a circle with his thumb and forefinger, and place them in his mouth, lightly touching his tongue, and blow. There was a certain rhythm to His whistle, sort of like the whip-poor-will, whit-wehoo, and he would make that sound three times. His whistle was so loud, we could hear it even if we were several blocks from our home. When we heard the whistle, we ran home. We knew his call. I even learned how to whistle loud like him, so when he whistled, I would return the call to let him know we heard him and were on our way.
A few years ago, friends invited us to come watch the Christmas boat parade in the Newport Beach harbor. As we were enjoying the decorated procession of vessels, we heard loud music coming from a very festive looking yacht across the harbor. Barbara nudged me and said, “Is that your mom and dad?” I had to strain my eyes to barely see the couple sitting on a bench in the stern of the ship. It looked like it could be my folks, but I wasn’t sure. So I placed my thumb and forefinger against my tongue and blew whit-wehoo, whit-wehoo, whit-wehoo. Immediately Mom and Dad moved around scanning across the harbor to see where that familiar whistle originated. Then Dad whistled back, and we touched through the distance and the darkness, telling each other, “I am here too.”

Through the prophet Zechariah, God told Israel he would bring their lost children home
I will whistle for them and gather them in,
for I have redeemed them . . . .
in far countries they shall remember me,
and with their children they shall live and return.
I will bring them home (Zech. 10:8-10)

Advent love calls us home, to the goodness of God’s infinitely loving heart

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