Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
What do Doris Day, Natalie Cole, Tom Jones, Barry Manilow, and Celine Dion have in common? A little song that I’m sure you know ….
When I fall in love it will be forever
Or I’ll never fall in love.
In a restless world like this is
Love is ended before it’s begun
And too many moonlight kisses
Seem to cool in the warmth of the sun.
When I give my heart it will be completely
Or I’ll never give my heart
And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too
Is when I fall in love with you.
Love. It’s what we are all looking for. A love that is constant. A love that is reciprocated. A love that will last.
Complete the phrase “when I fall in love, it will be …” with your own words.
Everyone has an idea of what love should be that has been passed down and patched together through music and fairytales, family stories and photo albums, poets and philosophers, and, most importantly, our own experience.
It’s why God is Love is one of the most intimate and relatable images for engaging with the Divine Mystery. And it is the good news of God’s great love for us – just as we are in this very moment – that enables us to desert the dead idols of our old lives and embrace the holy, hope-filled, love-alive lives to which Christ calls us.
As Paul points out to the young Christians in Thessalonica, their deep conviction that God loves them very much has given power and meaning to their faith, their labour, and their hope for resurrection.
Think back to your conversion experience (it may have been a single moment or a gradual deepening of your love for God and desire to live in relationship with God).
How did your awareness of God’s great love for you impact or change your life?
Do you still live with a deep conviction that God loves you very much?
How does that conviction find expression in your faith, in your work, in your future hopes, in your daily choices and way of living?
As you reflected on those questions, I wonder if you felt – as I did – a twinge of pain, a moment of guilt because of a passion for God that has waned over the years.
The accusation of God through the prophet Hosea certainly pierces my heart as I consider how often my best intentions to walk closely with God vanish before the demands of my household, my irritation with others, the rush to find some time to rest before the next appointment or activity in the diary:
“What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
What do I make of you, Judah?
Your declarations of love last no longer
than morning mist and predawn dew”
(Hosea 6:4, The Message).
The season of Advent invites us to consider that our longing for a love that is constant, a love that is reciprocated, a love that will last is a dim echo of the deepest desire of God – a desire that leads to the crude shelter of a stable and the rough splinters of the cross.
Perhaps you would like to write your own version of a “covenant” or a “vow” to God today as both a response to God’s great love for you and an expression of your great love for God.