Sunday, December 13, 2015 - Third Sunday of Advent

Advent 2015

"Living a Life of Love"

 

             Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might, he has become my salvation (Isaiah 12:2). 

 

             Growing up in a rural community in southeast Alabama in the 1940s and 1950s my family of 6 attended a "city" church - First Baptist Church of Headland.  One of my earliest recollections of attending Sunday School and Bible Training Union was how we were taught to answer roll call by quoting a bible verse.  Short, easy verses were recited early:  "Jesus wept" (John 11:35) and "God is love" (1 John 4:8).  Other than being pithy and easy, I had no real appreciation of the big picture encompassed in those three little words, "God is love."   Repeatedly, while working in the field of education, I have felt that showing and living a life of love toward all God's youngans has been a personal strength of mine.  And I think sharing God's love in that way is one of the most important things we can do as Christians.  Am I over simplifying the whole Christian experience?  Maybe.  Yet, sometimes I think we overly complicate Christianity and get bogged down in the many translations and interpretations of the bible. 

Trying to sort out the relevant, meaningful biblical history is an ongoing challenge for me.  While biblical writers didn't have benefit of advances like the Hubble Deep Space Telescope nor a Carl Zeiss Scanning Electron Microscope to more clearly see and understand God's creation, there may be times we rely too much on science and technology today.  I think there are times in our modern, digital life that we need to step back and try to discern from the bible just exactly what is meant when we say that the Lord God is our strength.  What are the principals, the deepest meanings of all of this?   

Over the years I have experienced situations embroiled in conflict; however, when I invoked a spirit of loving compassion the situation disarmed.  Maybe this reaction is simply the Christian way of turning the other cheek.  Or, perhaps I realized early in life that in the midst of conflict, an opposite reaction of love tends to soothe and neutralize more than the act of becoming equal or more puffed-up.  Is Sir Isaac Newton's third law of motion in the physical realm, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," meaningful here?  Not only on an individual, human level is this behavior observable, but I see such action and reaction on a family, business, and national level, too.  Sometimes I think that there is a basic need for a certain amount of conflict in the life of an individual or a nation state, but reasonable and loving reactions are necessary, as well.

Why can't we just get along, with love and respect for ourselves and for others who may just be...different?  My Sunday School class for the last 38 years, the Peggy Murphy/Carol Ann Richardson class, has helped me greatly to learn the relevance of, "the Lord God is my strength."  May we help others to find the same strength in God by showing and living a life of love toward all.               

 

- Will Hodges

 

 

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