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Advent - Love

I'll be taking a holiday after today's post until the New Year. This is the last week of Advent, and today I'll focus on love, typically associated with the fifth candle or Christ's candle.

Language is a funny thing. One of the beauties of the English language is its ability to accumulate other languages. I never learned why, or if other languages do the same thing as well, but the English language accepts nearly every possible language into its vernacular to the point that native speakers don't realize where the words originate. Words like algebra and algorithm both come from Arabic; mutton and crèche come from French; calico hails from India (a corruption of Calcutta supposedly), and still more.

For all our accumulation, one word still remains sadly under-developed, and that is the word love. Now, we have a variety of words to describe our level of love beginning with like and culminating with adore, but to describe the types of love, that is harder to do. The Greek language provides us with more terms which we're able to utilize. Terms like eros and filos do not describe the same type of love. From eros the English language developed the term erotic, and the term eros does describe the type of love between lovers. Filos is brotherly love (hence Philadelphia means "City of Brotherly Love" from filos and delphia for city). Agape is unconditional love most often associated with Christ. This agape love requires no reciprocation from one party. It's the love that a parent feels towards a child -  no matter what the child does, the parent will protect and love said child.

For many people, Christ represents love to us in that He came as a human infant to grow-up among us, and eventually give His life for us. One of the first things children raised in the church learn is: God is love. I am probably not the only person who struggled to accept and abstract for an abstract. I don't see God even as I don't see love, though I understand what people mean by both.

Someone once explained to me why 1 Corinthians 13 says, "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13). Hope is in the future; faith is in the past, but love ... love is for the present.

Since we have faith to accept that Christ is who He says He is, we can hope that He will return for us, but until then we need to express that hope and faith through acts of love. Yet, it can be difficult to love people - to express Christ's love to them. Loving doesn't mean giving in to people: friends will not allow someone they love to do something dangerous like drive drunk. Love isn't being a pushover: you do not love an abuser, but escape if at all possible. Love isn't turning a blind eye to troubles: parents step in when its obvious their child is abusing drugs. No, love can sometimes be hard to do, but sometimes it is best.

I have learned in my young life the hardest part of loving people is discerning when my words are needed or not needed. For one person, my harsh words will be unloving whereas for another person those self-same words are necessary. As this new year arrives, my hope is that each of us will learn to difference between being loving and unloving.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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