“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God… In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… if we love one another, God abides in us and his life is perfected in us… And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.” I John 4:7-16
If for some reason you were unable to attend Christmas services, please read the Christmas account from Luke 2 as part of your Christmas devotion today. The appointed lessons in the daily lectionary assume that all will have heard the Christmas Gospel read in worship. The daily lectionary, instead, provides commentary on the mystery of the Word made flesh, through the writings of John, the Apostle and Evangelist. We have heard that the baby was born in Bethlehem, attended by angels, shepherds, sheep and ox! Now, what does this mean?
It means that God so loves us that He sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. What is important, John tells us, is not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins! The Christmas message is not first about us, but about what God has done for us, in Jesus, the Son. Because God has become flesh to dwell among us, to abide with us, we may now abide in Him—and as we live in Him, his love is perfected in us.
John continues, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” We love, not to prove ourselves worthy or deserving, but because God loves us and sent His Son to give His life for us. By our love, we testify and bear witness to the fact that we have been loved by the Father through the Son, who died on the cross for us, and was raised for our salvation. Now it is for us, with the shepherds, to go and tell all that we have seen and heard!
Father, we give you thanks and praise for the gift of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. May we love, because you have first loved us. Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church