The fourth candle: Love
In this final week of Advent, our attention is on love. The following Scripture verses may sound very familiar: Look for the call to love in these words.
Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Matthew 22:36-40 The Message
From the two pegs of love hangs everything. If we hold on to love of God as most important then what hangs from the pegs will not hang straight. To have a faith that hangs straight we need both the love of God and of other people.
God, we have learned to love from being loved by you. And so today, let us enact that love. Let us live that love. We know that what the world needs now is more love. We need to remember how much you love each one of us and we must share that love with others. Amen.
The fourth candle: Mary
In today’s Britain when couples are getting married for the first time around 30 years old it could come as a culture shock to imagine that a young teenage girl should be betrothed, sort of like engaged, but arranged by her parents, to a man. That she is likely to have been married by her mid teens seems shocking.
Meet one such woman, still very much a girl in many respects, living in a northern town, betrothed to a man from the south. Dreaming of marriage with nothing much of a courtship to get used to each other. What is he going to be like? Will he be kind or harsh?
But there is a third person in this story. An angel from God appears to the young woman, “Do not be afraid,” he says.
Now I don’t know about you, but if an angel appeared in front of me I’d be thinking of clean underwear before he got to the “do not be afraid” bit. Not afraid? Less than terrified would be good.
Mary, for that is her name, was apprehensive too. Especially when the message came that she was to become pregnant, bear a son and that son will become great.
Fast forward 30 years:
Mary and the promised son are at a wedding banquet. Not just a white dress, a meal some speeches and a disco then. If you thought that went on and on have pity on these folk, their wedding receptions could go on for days, poor people. Still it’s a good excuse for a pi …… hang on, the booze has run out, what a disaster.
Mary, remembering the angels promise. goes to her son, whom she called Jesus as the angel told her, the son whom she loves, and asks him to do something. She also goes to the catering staff. “Whatever he says to you do it.” She tells them. Before to long there is booze again. Free booze, the best quality booze, and more than they could possibly drink.
Back to the original story.
This early teenager, after understandably asking questions, who wouldn’t when terrified, agrees to the angels plan. She says, “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”
We can learn a lot from this girl. Firstly our attitude to Jesus. “Whatever he says to you do it, ” is a good rule to live by.
Then there’s her example of saying yes to God, even when the thing you are saying yes to scares you.