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December 20, 2020 - Fourth Sunday of Advent - Love Honors Others

Week 4 Introduction: The fourth Sunday of Advent signifies love and reminds us that Jesus was sent to us because of God’s great love for us. For the next seven days we will rediscover and experience God’s amazing love. Let this reality be your focus this week no matter what else you are going through: Jesus is God’s love embodied in our world and infused into our lives to heal us and draw us together. Experience the depth of His love and allow that love to overflow to others in grace and unity. Let love fill your days and nights as Christmas draws close!


"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:16-20


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16


How do you usually like to let people know you love them? When do you feel most loved by others?


"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19


Devotional

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-10


They were a young couple, eking out a living in New York City. They had each other but little else. Oh, and their most prized possessions: Jim’s gold pocket watch that had been his grandfather’s and Della’s beautiful, cascading hair. Both had secretly tried saving for months to buy a Christmas present for the other, but $1.87 was all Della had. In a moment of Christmas Eve inspiration, Della sold her hair for $20 to buy Jim a perfectly simple gold chain to match his pocket watch. As Jim arrived home, Della feared he would no longer find her beautiful. He held his wife close and gave her a set of combs she had long admired. “My hair grows so quickly,” she told him. At least there was the perfect watch chain, which she excitedly gave him. Jim smiled as he told her he had sold the watch in order to buy her combs. “Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise,” wrote O’Henry to close his famous 1905 story The Gift of the Magi. “Everywhere they are the wise ones. They are the magi.”


Is there a love more sincere than that which puts another first? Jim and Della didn’t give gifts to each other out of compulsion or obligation. They didn’t think twice about sacrificing their most prized possession to bring happiness to their true love. Their spirit is the same as that of the Magi, who gave freely to Jesus. The Magi are the source of our practice of Christmas gift giving. And, of course, theirs and our gifts are just a reflection of God’s gift of Jesus. His love in action through us, as Paul describes in Romans, is sincere, good, devoted, and honors others before ourselves.


What gift are you most excited to give this Christmas? What other way can you honor someone above yourself in this season, even without money or means?

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