Wednesday, Dec. 21 – Eddie Stepp

21 Dec

Week 4: Love
Today’s Scripture:
Psalm 113
Luke 1:26-38

If you listen at all in this season of holiday advertising, you will hear this refrain: Demonstrate your love with your presents. True love manifests itself through the newest gadget (preferably at 4G speed) or a necklace from the open-toes collection (or is it heart?) or a shiny new car (and the accompanying enormous debt) – at least that is what the attractive voices on TV tell us. For our kids to feel loved they need the latest and the greatest, the shiniest and the hippest. Never mind that we will need to clear their rooms of last years’ latest and greatest – that was rarely played with – in order to make room for this years’ model. After all, how will our grandkids know they are loved if we don’t bombard them with a Tonka-load of impractical and insidious noise-making devices? Sarcasm aside, gift-giving is a wonderful expression of love when kept in its proper place. I enjoy the giving experience when I allow it to flow from the motivation of love rather than a consumeristic mentality or feeling like I need to fulfill some kind of quota.

The second part of the holiday refrain, almost imperceptible unless you listen very carefully, is this: Demonstrate your love with your presence. As I get older, one of the things of which God continues to remind me is that presence is a great gift. In December 2004, my wife, Lisa, had major surgery to remove an unknown mass from her chest cavity. During the six-hour surgery and the wondering and worrying, three men – my dad, Ron Williams, and Ken Pruitt – sat with me and said little. They shared my grief and multiplied the celebration when we learned of the successful surgery and a non-cancerous mass. And through the entire ordeal, they were a tangible demonstration of God’s love for me and my family. Since that time, I have heard many people share similar stories of God’s love demonstrated through the faithful presence of God’s saints – by way of a meal, a card, a visit, a hug, or a text.

Presents and presence – I like both words, especially in this season. Maybe it is because God gave us a great present in Jesus’ presence. The Ruler of the universe came to be one of us. The LORD of the heavenly hosts became an embryo. The Almighty God assumed frail humanity. The One who sits enthroned chose to make his dwelling among us. His coming to us was a great gift of love. The wonder of the gift of the baby that we celebrate this Christmas is that he was Emmanuel – God was (and is) present with us.

This Christmas may you enjoy the presents – both the giving and the receiving in love.

May you enjoy the presence of Christ’s love expressed in a variety of ways.

May you be the presence of Christ’s love in your family and in the world in these days of celebration.

 

-ES

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