Love [12-19-21]



In 1883, Christina Rossetti wrote a poem, Love Came Down at Christmas. Over the years, it has been set to music by various composers. It is a wonderfully simple song. Here are the lyrics:

Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, Love Divine,

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,

Love Incarnate, Love Divine,

Worship we our Jesus,

What shall be our sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,

Love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and all neighbor,

Love for prayer and gift and sign.


We're going to break down the two major implications of this love that

came down at Christmas.


Long before God made the universe and all that is in it, He purposed to send His One and Only Son to earth. In John 17:24, Jesus prayed, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." Even before the foundation of the world, God knew how much the baby born in Bethlehem would suffer.


That's the depth of what we mean when we sing, "Love came down at Christmas."


Listen to Revelation 13:7-8:

And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

In other words, before the foundation of the world the Father already knew who was saved. And so God already knew the price that would have to be paid to save them. Before the foundation of the world. Before God planted the first pine tree or created the first poinsettia, the Christmas story had already been planned…and Good Friday…and Easter. And everything else in-between. Before the first light of the sun hit the earth, God had already begun preparing the soil where the cross would one day stand. The Father knew that Jesus would one day take on flesh and, eventually, shed his own blood. For us.


Love came down at Christmas.


When Jesus was sent to earth, he was covered in the Father's love. As Jesus says in John 10:14-18:

"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Love came down at Christmas at the excruciating cost to God's Son. As John 10:17 tells us, because Jesus was born to die, the Father's love for him was full to overflowing. God's love for His Son didn't keep Him from sending Jesus to save us. Here's something you might want to write down:

LOVE FOR HIS SON PROMPTED GOD TO SEND HIM.


Love came down at Christmas.


We feel the weight of those words. Jesus was born to die. That is the meaning of Christmas love. In his own words, Jesus says, "I lay down my life for the sheep…I lay down my life…This charge I have received from my Father" {John 10:15,17-18}. This Jesus did, and this God planned before the foundation of the world, for lost and wandering and helpless sheep. For poor ordinary people like you and like I. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:9, " For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might

become rich." That is what Christmas is all about.


So what do we do with this love that came down at Christmas? Where does it go from here?


One of the simpler things we do is, we say our gift-giving is one way of expressing our Christmas love. We get it. Out of love for us…for God so loved the world…the birth of Jesus is a gift to us. So, out of love for others, we give gifts to them. What's the cliché that goes along with this? "It's more blessed to give than to receive."


We like to receive gifts. But what about lousy gifts? Have you ever been given a bad gift for Christmas?

  • An eight-year-old boy, after opening a gift only to find a pair of pants, yelled in frustration, "You're supposed to get me these anyway!"

  • A woman was given a secondhand home foot spa from a friend who said, "It just needs a bit of a clean."

  • A woman describes how, when she was 12 or 13, she went through a

phase where she loved to knit. Her mom told everyone in the family

that she loved to knit. What do you think she was bombarded with that Christmas? You guessed it…everything you could think of that had anything to do with sewing!

  • Another woman once told her mother how much she enjoyed the popcorn at the cinema. That Christmas her mother bought her a popcorn maker because, apparently, in her mother's words, she's "into popcorn."

  • Finally, there's this {show picture}.


Here's the twist on Christmas gift giving. As Jesus is God's gift of love to us, then, through Christ, we are God's gift of love to others. As we read in John 20:21, " Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.'” As the Father sent the Son, demonstrating His love in beauty and strength and sacrifice, paying for our sins through his sacrificial love; so the Son now sends us. And while we can never love the way Jesus loves, we can love as fully and completely as humanly possible.


How are we loving the people Jesus died to save? That's the gift.


We are the extension of God's gift of love. Never forget the fruit of the Spirit. Never forget sacrificial love. To whom has God sent you? Remember, as God so loved the world, so also He has sent you.


I love this quote from John Calvin:

"CHRIST ASSURES US, THAT THIS WILL BE A MARK OF OUR ADOPTION, IF WE ARE KIND TO THE UNFAITHFUL AND EVIL."

Christmas love isn't a feeling. It's a dynamic thing. What is the perfect Christmas gift? The one that embodies the sacrificial love of our Savior. What is the best Christmas ever? It is whenever followers of Jesus express love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in the best and worst of circumstances. That's the gift that keeps on giving, ever better than a subscription to the jelly of the month club.


Sometimes we judge the goodness or badness of Christmas based on transitory things. The gospel flips the script. It's about more than the

material gifts we give or receive. What if we were so filled with the love of God that we were to let God use us to bless other people around us, people who are hurting, people who are losing hope? What if we were so filled with Christmas love that we were to see and pray for and listen to and be with people who have a need? What if we were to even love the unlovable? What if we were to love the world around us so much that we were to give our best to the people who need it most? Will we love the unborn and love the women who make the horrible choices to end their lives? Will we love the person who is not deserving of our love? Will we love those who are far away from God?


Love came down at Christmas…to what end?


Where will the love of Jesus Christ lead us?


Let us pray:

HEAVENLY FATHER, WE ASK FOR A HEART LIKE YOURS. WE WANT TO DO WHAT YOU DID. WE WANT TO LOVE THE WORLD SO MUCH THAT WE GIVE THE BEST WE HAVE.


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