All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the
-Daniel Ladinsky, from “The Gift”
Oh no. No, no, no, no, no. This isn’t good. What a heavy and important gift to receive this Advent season. Not good at all. At Christmas we are to receive a love that “lights up the whole sky”? Goodness gracious, that is the best gift I’ve ever received- and it doesn’t even come wrapped up with a bow! God is truly with us through Jesus- a love that has no ends. We have been waiting for these past weeks expectantly for the coming of Christmas. It’s a jubilant, red and green, sparkly season full of parties, cookies, movies, Nutcrackers and I am here for every second of it. It is truly a wonderful time of the year and I adore the entire Advent season.
Because we know at the end of all our wait and anticipation we get to welcome in the baby child into our hearts. What an amazing presence that floods the world with the arrival of Emmanuel. A lowly infant that changed the world forever.
But oh man, that love also comes with calling in our world. The love that lights up our world is the love that Christ asks us to share as his disciples. It is the love we are supposed to extend to our neighbors. The love the houses the homeless, comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry…. How are we to show the same boundless love that God shows us? How do we actually live that awesome love out?
And frankly, I have no idea. It is the question that keeps me up at night. It is the thing that causes me to falter and stumble when it is easier to cruise by with judgment, assumptions, and complacency. Each of us are asked to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities. Honestly I’m not always sure how to step forward…but I know the beautiful gift of grace compels me to utilize my privilege and positionality to live out Christ’s message. On one hand, cute lil’ baby Jesus wraps his loving tiny hand around our pinky finger – holding onto us desperately. And on the other hand, Jesus is dragging us along as we dig in our heels- not ready to fully accept the call to share God’s love. Grace and calling. Love and commission. Uffda.
I find comfort in the words of activist, pastor, agitator, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’”. I rest assured in the fact that Jesus holds us equally in both his hands of love and justice. The poetry of Psalms again affirms our connection to God,
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8
I also find this same comfort at camp. FLBC wraps each person who arrives there with a deep and resounding love. But as counselors we work with our kids to develop acts of service, become stewards of our only planet, and extend the gift of grace to all peoples. And the counselors and staff themselves are bearing the yoke of Christ. While it is obvious that FLBC is full of joy, glitter, and songs it also comes with tiredness, late nights, and a few tears. I’m proud of counselors I worked with and those who continue to share in the love that can be found at camp.
So let the weight of this Advent season envelope you and wrap you up in love. But also let it stir you up. Be comforted and called by the love of Christ; look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.
Andrew Larsen works for the ecumenical mission of Global Ministries in the Philippines. In the Philippines works alongside the National Council of Churches to promote human rights in the southern region of the country. Andrew was an FLBC counselor for two summers and later joined the summer staff as the On-site Program Director (2012,’13, ‘15) .