Today we are having our special service of lessons & carols. Churches have been holding this type of service for well over 100 years, traditionally held on Christmas Eve at night. There’s a rumour that they were held at that time in order to keep men from the pub but I suspect the real reason is that it was an easy way to tell the Christmas story told through well-loved bible readings and songs. As it is the fourth Sunday in Advent, we are focussing on love; appropriate as this congregation loves to sing.
I’m sure that one of your favourite carols will be featured at one of our Christmas services but I want to concentrate on the first one we will sing which really sets the scene for us. It is “Love came down at Christmas” and it completely encapsulates the essence of Christmas. The story of Christmas is God coming to us in person to show us how much we are loved, how we are meant to live lives of love and how love is going to win one day. The gospel writer John tells us that this God is love. So love literally does come down at Christmas.
What we have to remember though, is that love coming to us was not a flying visit. Love came to us in the person of Jesus Christ who has promised never to leave us. When we gather together, we gather in the presence of Jesus. We have been gifted the Spirit of God to bind us to God who is love and to one another. The central message of Jesus is that we are to love God and love one another. To quote another song, love is all around us. We are to be known as Christians because we love; love is what defines us. We are to live lives marked by love. So, let us remember love came down at Christmas and this love changed everything. Let us go into this world to love God and one another and let this transforming love change our lives, our communities and our world. That’s the power of love.