For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
We have a morning ritual when we drop our oldest off for school. We ask him to repeat after us, "I am good, I am smart, I am loved..." He was about to step out of the car and he turned... "Dad? Is that a conditional kind of love or a permanent love?" "Permanent," I answered. "Oh thank goodness!" I never got to ask him about what he was thinking in that moment, but I haven't forgotten it. And aren't we all glad it's a permanent love?
This week, we light the candle of Love on the Advent wreath. It's a common enough word and concept, to be sure. But do we have our own moments of doubt and wonder? Are there conditions? Do we deserve it? Is it permanent? The good news is we get to ask our questions and the Scriptures speak beautifully - just like today's reading above and the Christmas story found in Luke and Matthew. All we have to do is ask our questions and the answers are there.
In Advent, we find our yearly ritual. God speaks, we listen. We think and ponder, as Mary and Joseph, as the shepherds did. And then we have questions in our wonder. We turn to God, in anticipation... "Is it a conditional kind of love or a permanent love?" God smiles, "A permanent one."