First Sunday of Advent
I believe that stories dwell in their adjectives. I would like to add adjectives to the four horsemen of Advent: love, hope, joy, peace. In and of themselves, those four concepts are crucial to our experience of God and our witness to the world. Concepts can be like cars without wheels—all potential and no fulfillment.
The first candle lit for Advent is the candle of love. I don’t know why. Perhaps without love there is no way to ignite hope, joy, or peace—or more accurately—what is the point of our hope, joy, and peace if it is not love-filled?
If love is pure, love is unconditional. It is the love an infant has for the ones who care for her. It is the love of youngsters too innocent to know each other’s truth. It is the love of old-timers wise enough to love beyond each other’s truth.
Love without conditions needs to be our rule. We have long been taught whom to love, how to love, when to love. Conversely, we have also been taught who is not worthy of our love, how to withhold our love in order to get what we want, and when it is too dangerous to risk loving.
But God’s love—born in a manger, borne on a cross—defies our prohibitions and injunctions about love. God’s Immanuel did not come to set a wall between the loved and the unloved. God’s Immanuel came to tear down those walls and defy all presumptions about who is lovable and who is not.
When we light the first candle of Advent, let us not just light a candle of love—some poorly defined, Hallmark-infused emotion; let us light the candle of unconditional love and let it shine as a reminder of God’s intentional and deliberate love sent to us in Jesus Christ.
Kerry Krauss, pastor, Moravian Church
Sister Bay. Wisconsin