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Advent 2012 Devotional #6: The Convictions of Love

Dear Friends – Normally I would offer a small introduction to the writer of the day’s devotional.  However, in light of today’s tragic event I felt it best to keep my words at a minimum and allow our writer’s insightful and profound words to speak for themselves.  It is my pleasure to offer you a truly touching devotional written by none other than your Minister to the University, Rev. Angela Kaufman.
This is what the Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
I had started another devotional for today.  It too was about love, like this one, but in it there was lots of talk about Christmas trees and train sets. However, about halfway through writing this morning, I started getting notifications on my phone – maybe like some of you. These weren’t meeting reminders or Facebook notifications from students. Instead they were news service messages about what I know now, 6 hours later, was an act of horrific violence that took the lives of 26 individuals including 20 children in Connecticut. Suddenly it brought all my thoughts about trains and trees to a standstill. And while this is sadly by no means the only act of violence in our world today, it’s horror and magnitude led me to spend much of the day troubled. Here’s what I know by mid-afternoon:
While it has been “easy” to pray this day, offering up my outrage, my anger, and my grief, it’s not been easy to write, especially about love. It is not easy to write about love when confronted with violence that takes the lives of innocents. It’s not easy to write about love when filled with uncertainty about a world where people take guns and knives into classrooms, or anywhere for that matter.  That said, I know that if we are not willing to speak about God’s love when we are surrounded by tragedy that then our words about it on all other days are hollow.  I know if I won’t speak about love when confronted with hate then, how strong can this “love” I so often talk about really be?
In this season of waiting for the Christ-child, we must be people who have the courage to speak about God’s love, even when filled with pain. The love Jesus spoke of must not only live among us in times of joy.  It doesn’t belong only at our celebrations. It must be present when we are racked with sorrow and uncertainty. It must be a love that speaks up when it rains, not just when the sun shines. And as importantly, it must be a love that is filled with conviction and character. At times, we see our world portray love as sappy, soft, sentimental and hence somehow weak. Yet as Christians, we are called to speak of a love that is strong and resilient. And it must be a love that is not just present when there is violence, but that in fact challenges that violence.    The Christ child, born just like these children whose lives were lost today, was born also into a world filled with moments of violence and turmoil. He grew up and shared a message of God’s love; a love that transforms lives, a love that is offered to all – and a love that is expected from all. He spoke of a love that turns the world upside down. even on days when it feels like the world is turned upside down on us.
So today, on this horrible gut-wrenching day that stops us in our tracks, let us not test our politics nor dwell in the pundits of 24-hour media coverage. Let us instead, test the conviction and the character of our love.
God, you are our rock and shepherd, our comforter and light. With a presence too deep for words, gently bear our hearts and carry our souls today as we turn to you and to the love brought to us by a baby wrapped in a manger; a child who later would turn the world upside down.  Lord, give us your love and challenge us to be your love – strong, resilient and offered to all.  Amen.


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