Love: The Fourth Candle of Advent
This Advent season I’m challenging those of us in ministry to take a few minutes each week to let God work in us, so that we can create moments for Him to work in others. Use this reflection on your own, with your family, or with your youth group as a way to re-center and focus in the midst of your busy week.
Passage for reflection: Matthew 1
(If you’re reflecting with family or youth group, you may wish to start reading together from verse 18.)
Joseph is truly a fascinating character, isn’t he? He doesn’t seem to have much to say as the impossible and the miraculous unfold around him. In fact, not one of the Gospels tells us of Joseph saying anything at all.
We know that with Mary’s unexpected news he seriously considers his responsibility to honor and the tradition he had been raised in. When the angel intervenes, Joseph changes tack and obeys God without question. And when Caesar commands, he dutifully follows the law, journeying with his pregnant wife to Bethlehem despite the enormous risks.
In the story of Jesus’ birth Joseph may come off as the quiet type, yet he is given center stage as the story of God’s plan unfolds. Why? Because at every uncertain moment, where most of us would consider running away in fear, Joseph shows up. And through his persistent faithfulness, Joseph’s presence speaks to a powerful love which needs no words.
By this point in December, you’ve probably run out of wrapping paper, and it’s possible that you’ve talked so much you’re running out of words. As you prepare gifts for those you love and enact plans for those you serve, don’t forget that presence is a powerful gift in itself. This week as you gather to recognize the immanent celebration of God’s showing up in human form—His coming to be fully present with us on earth—think about how your love for God and for one another can be shown in faithfulness and persistence.
As you light the four candles for Advent this week, talk about times over the past week when you’ve felt loved, or found joy in the opportunity to show love to someone.
Here are three questions to get you thinking and talking about love:
- How did Joseph show love in this story… for his family? for Mary? for God?
- In what practical ways does our family/group demonstrate love for one another?
- What does the name Immanuel, “God with us”, mean to you?
Three ways to share love with others this week:
- Make a list of reasons you love a particular family member, and leave it in his/her Christmas stocking as a meaningful gift.
- Invite someone who’s lonely to join you for Christmas dinner or for another activity you may have planned for the upcoming week.
- Make a resolution to show faithfulness to someone in your life who can be hard to love sometimes. Commit your prayers and patience to them in the year ahead, and watch what God is doing in their life.
Rachel Dodd is Director of Youth Discipleship for Kent UMC in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and an MDiv student at Fuller Theological Seminary. She and her husband Carl have been serving churches students and families in England and US for over 15 years, and have two daughters who keep life full of sparkles, adventure, and coffee.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.