Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away … And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13)
The advent season can be a joyous, hopeful season but for some people, it can also serve to magnify their distress and hopelessness and maybe even lonliness. As my family has gone through great loss, I think we’ve come to truly experience love between one another. I’m very greatful for that. And that is why I feel inspired to talk about love and longing today.
Advent is an opportunity to step into our longings and desires for something greater than ourselves … something greater than our hearts and our minds can contain or even imagine.
Love is a huge topic that we could discuss forever and it could take us in a million directions, but today I want to focus on the love for our community and for our God and what He wants that to look like. Especially this season. As we truly love others and delight in them, we aren’t just satisfied with that… it doesn’t end there, but rather we long to know the depths of who they are. And when we do this, we experience the presence of God, I think if you build those deeper relationships, we are propelled deeper into the desire of also knowing and meeting Him.
The other part of this is longing … waiting, craving, yearning.
This is what Advent should be all about. Slowing Down and Waiting. To get ourselves ready … to bring Jesus into our life… a bit more fully, than before.
But how do we do this? I think we do it through love. Jean Vanier says, “Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness. I don’t believe that God necessarily calls us to do extraordinary things, rather to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” ….and isn’t that easier? … we’re off the hook … you don’t have to do something grand and outrageous … just ordinary things with extraordinary love!
A prime example of this is Mother Teresa. She says, “It is not what we do, but how much love we put into doing it.” … so again, we’re off the hook! We’re not comparing lists here of how many great and wonderful things we do … its about how you do it … do it for real, do it authentically, have some love behind it. Do things and talk to people who are meaningful to you.
To truly love someone, I think is to be able to show them their beauty, their worth and their importance. “A Christian community should do as Jesus did: propose and not impose. Its attraction must lie in the radiance cast by the love of brothers.” (JV) I think what Jean is saying here, is stop talking … and just do! Your not going to change peoples’ hearts by talking to then … you do it by living. When you do things that you are passionate about … people notice and feel the authenticity.
We need to be sharing our love with others – especially during this advent season. A lot of us here are blessed with family and friends who love us … and a lot of us here aren’t. It’s not something you can see written on someone’s forehead … go forward from today and remember that other people besides you are hurting, are alone, feel unwanted and unloved. It could be a stranger on the bus or a close friend whose story you just haven’t heard yet.
Mother Teresa once said that “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbour.”
John Vanier said, “To be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefore unloveable. Loneliness is a taste of death. No wonder some people who are desperately lonely lose themselves in mental illness or violence to forget the inner pain.”
“Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed” (JV)
“When people love each other, they are content with very little. When we have light and joy in our hearts, we don’t need material wealth. The most loving communities are often the poorest. If our own life is luxurious and wasteful, we can’t approach people (who have little). If we love people, we want to identify with them and share with them” (JV)
Mother Teresa said that “Nakedness is not only for a piece of cloth. Nakedness is for human dignity, for respect. Homelessness is not only for a home made of bricks. Homelessness is being rejected, unwanted, unloved, uncared for, having forgotten what is human love, what is human touch. Let us not make a mistake – that the hunger is only for a piece of bread. The hunger of today is so much greater; for love – to be wanted, to be loved, to be cared for, to be somebody.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (1 John 4:16)
As we make our journey through this first year as the Commons, we can be proud. We may look small, but we are mighty!
To us what matters is the individual. To be able to authentically love one another, we must come in close contact with one another. Mother Teresa says “If we wait till we get the numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers. And we will never be able to show that love and respect for the individual person.”
As we strive for one of our new values – Peace – we can be confident that works of love are always works of peace
I have learned that bad times don’t last forever. Whether facing an obstacle or overcoming grief, hard times do pass. When there is a cloudy sky, the sun I is not gone, it is only hidden for a while.
I challenge you to take part in the beauty of living in our longings. It allows us to truly desire and crave something bigger. It is that unfulfilled part of the adventure, and part of the joy of knowing Christ. As it teaches us what is important.
Love is important.