LOVE IS A GIFT NOT CONTAINED IN A BOX
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14
Last night I had the chance to worship with some of our students for the first time since the craziness of COVID began. It was very spaced out and everyone had masks, but there was a sense in the room that for one moment everything seemed ok. There is just something about God being invited into the scenario that allows us to feel peace and comfort. As I was speaking last night, I made a comment that was truly one from God when I said, that the gift that was from God was never meant to be contained in the box. The box was never meant to contain the gift of love that was expressed in the life of Jesus. And I don't know if you realize this, but we are the boxes that has received this gift. Love came in the form of Jesus who placed within us His fingerprint and with that touch the Love of God began to grow with us and was never meant to be contained to just our lives. It is crazy as we move throughout the advent journey, because we need to recognize that there is importance in the lesson that either the gift is free to be given or received or the gift is contained only for one. See the Love of God was never meant to be held down. I mean if you look at the Christmas story, those that were in power were doing everything possible to contain the gift in a box and not allow it to come and do what the gift was created to do. I mean the kings/wise men were sent to find the Messiah so that the king would be able to go and kill the child. And when they did not return, the king ordered that all male babies 2 years and younger to be killed because that is how long the star that was in the sky had marked that the Messiah had come.
See, not even the evils of this world can contain the gift of God's love that was meant to be shared with the world... not just on the first Christmas, but also with every day that followed. Christmas was the unwrapping of the gift to reveal the fullness of God's grace, mercy and love to the world. And I love that the first people that really knew what had happened were the lowest of the lows on the hierarchy of the day. Shepherds were the ones that God first revealed this gift of love to and their first command was to go and see the gift and then to go and tell the rest of the world. See this gift of God's indescribable love was never meant to be contained but shared to ALL of creation. Even though the Love of God took on flesh and
surrendered His place by the right hand of God, the inability of the rulers of this world to contain Him was evident. From the first breath as a baby and the last breath on the cross, the Love continued to multiply and completely transform the lives of every person He encountered. And just because it has been over 2,000 years since this has occurred, history still reveals that the government, wars, sin, satan and even death itself could not contain the LOVE that God had prepared to give to the world as soon as sin entered into the story. We think that we have so much control over how God shares His love, and the true reality is that we are just a vessel that cannot contain the fullness of God's love. All we have is the ability and privilege to carry, experience it, and watch as it continues to be multiplied through those who are willing to surrender their lives fully to God.
As we look at our Scripture selection today, it is not surprising that God's love was first revealed to the ones that were considered the disenfranchised. As shepherds, they were paid very little, smelled a whole lot but was willing to give their lives to protect their flock, and God recognized this love that evident in their actions. God wanted to share the news of this great gifts to the ones that were in the trenches who were already demonstrating the very nature of the gift that was about to be opened for the benefit of ALL CREATION. I can only imagine what it had to be like to be sitting in a pasture on a clear night contemplating the meaning of the bright star in the sky when all of a sudden your life would be changed forever because of an encounter with God. Those shepherds probably had no idea what was going on, but as soon as they received the news, they did not hesitate because they had received a gift in their lives that was already overflowing and ready to tell the world. They were given specific details and instructions and then a little worship broke out... sounds pretty familiar to me and our calling to go and make disciples... to equip them, encourage them and to share the glory of God's work with one another. This is the message from the first church at Pentecost and it continues to be the same call of sharing the Love of God in every way possible that we have been called to take up with every generation. WE are now the shepherds... WE are now keeping watch over the flock by night.... WE now carry the same message of God's LOVE that cannot be contained by the boundaries of any person, church, city, county, state, country, continent or world. The gift of God's Love came in the form of His One and ONLY Son Jesus Christ and was and is still never meant to be contained.
Today, the message I hope that we all take from this is that God's Love is meant to be shared and multiplied. That if we who have received this love, will continue to plant it into the lives of others, All of creation will watch as the Love of God will multiply like nothing we have ever seen. Many believe that they have a way to stop the message of God's Love by shutting down the church. Well I just need us all to realize that you can shut down the building, but the church is not the building. The church are the people of God that makes up the building.
WE are the shepherds who are now going out into the world to share the Gospel and NOTHING will EVER be able to contain the power of the message of God's Love that began His journey in a manger. See, it all started from humble beginnings, but just think of it this way. The love of God has been passed down for thousands of years and nothing or nobody has found a way to deter its' message or to suppress its' growth. The true meaning of LOVE for this week comes from the box that became flesh and with His last words... with His LAST act of life He showed grace and love when Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." It was never, ever about Him... it was about fulfilling HIS calling of sharing the LOVE of GOD to the world. I just hope and pray that these daily blogs give us all time to reflect and realize the power of God's love that has already impacted so much of our lives. I pray that we realize that it was never meant to be kept hidden through our actions or through our fear of sharing this message to the world. But as the containers that have been given this gift, we are called to regift it to the world. God's love has never been meant only for a certain group of people, but for ALL of HIS creation. We cannot contain it because we have no authority over it.. we just have the blessing to receive it and immediately share it and give it away.