Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Conspiracy (Love All)

On Christmas Eve in 1914, World War I was raging on throughout Europe. Trench warfare was brutal, with companies losing nearly 1/3 of their soldiers to gain a few hundred feet of ground from the enemy. But something miraculous happened: French, British, and German soldiers in Belgium chose to have an unofficial ceasefire for Christmas. I shared a short clip from the film Joyeux Noel:

This is the power of God's presence in our world, that in the darkest of hours the Light of the world shines through. Soldiers who previously had been shooting each other become friends, looking out for the interests of their enemies over their own.

For our final week of Advent Conspiracy, we looked at 1 John 4, where the disciple that Jesus loved describes the love of God:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
John points out that the perfect example of God's love us found in the Christmas story--the incarnation of Jesus. John reminds us that because God is love, we should follow in His example and reveal God's loving character to the world. We talked about loving not only those who we already like--our best friends, people we enjoy--but also learn to love and enjoy people we don't like--those who make us uncomfortable, those who are socially outcast, those who annoy or bother us. I invited the students to think of one person this week of Christmas who they simply didn't like and pray for them. Something I've learned over time is that it's hard to hate someone you're continually praying for.

We put this idea of loving all into action by inviting students to help lead a Christmas service at a local rest home right after church services. Fifteen students came to sing Christmas songs and read the Christmas story from the book of Luke. The highlight of my day was seeing an elderly woman named Liz nearly come to tears, she was so blessed by some of our girls singing Christmas songs for her. We had a lot of fun together even though many of the students felt uncomfortable with the whole experience.

To close off the whole thing, the junior highers raised $250.38 these past 4 weeks to help bring clean water to communities in Uganda via Food for the Hungry. It doesn't seem like much--it's about the same price as a new iPod Touch--but it will make a significant difference in the lives of real people living in Uganda. It has also made a huge difference in the lives of our students who were willing to give of their own resources. Let's hope that students can continue to capture the vision of loving people with the heart of Christ!

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