Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23

     Dear Jesus, this is an awesome morning… good coffee, a fire in the fireplace, Christmas music filling the room… and a Scripture about loving well. Speaking of which, your love was so evident as we buried dad on Monday. There’s no one who loves in life and in death, in our joys and in our sorrows like you.

     Jesus, it’s only because you came into the world that we even have a clue what loving well looks like.  It’s only because you lived for us and died for us that we can boast of being sincerely and deeply loved from the heart… from your heart. Astonishing! There’s simply no grander news, greater security, or liberating assurance. I must pause and ponder…

     Joy beyond all delightings… peace beyond all understandings… hope beyond all imaginings… Jesus loves you deeply from his heart… and there’s nothing you can do about it! You can’t add to his love for you and you can’t diminish his love for you. You can simply enjoy it… be changed by it… and share it with others.

     Jesus, I never could’ve “purified myself”—I never could’ve have gained, neither can I maintain a relationship with God through purgings… penance… and promises of doing more and trying harder. What religion, rites and rules could never do for us, you’ve done for us. That’s what we celebrate at Advent… your coming to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.

     “Born that man no more may die… Born to raise the sons of earth… Born to give them second birth… Hark! The herald angels sing “Glory to the newborn King!”

     It’s only because I was given the “second birth”—it’s only because I was born again… born of the “imperishable seed” of grace… that I discovered my need of the gospel and was enabled to obey the truth of the gospel by believing it. You get all the credit, Jesus, from beginning to end. The only thing I contributed to my salvation was my sin and brokenness.

     As I celebrate your incarnation this early morning, help me surrender to its implications.  Love in me and love through me, Jesus. There’s no other way I will love anybody well. Make my love for the “brethren” sincere and observable. Teach me how to love deeply from my heart, just as you love us. So very Amen, I pray, in your holy and loving name.