Love in His Name :: Love of Advent

John 1.1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1 John 4.16
God is love.

Reflection: Love in His Name :: Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Before there was anything, there was Christ. This poem from Matt Tullos (an introduction to his 39 Words writings) echoes John’s first chapter and reminds us that in Advent, Jesus enters a world rightly his, a world he lovingly created, and a world he now prepares, lovingly, to save.

By Matt Tullos

Before there was anything there was a Name
Before seas and land, before dust was formed into flesh
Before Babel’s broken tower. Before the ark was set in place
Before there was anything
Before prophet, priest or king
There was a Name.
No other name in history
could banish demons, calm the sea
it echoes through eternity
chains are broken, souls set free
by His Great Name!
His name birthed stars and pinned them in the sky
His name brought angels to Bethlehem
The greatest and the least came
To see the One True Name
And when we speak His Name all heavenly hosts revere.
It reaches past our weakness and our fragile, thin veneer.
It’s a name above every name- spoken in each race and tongue.
There is power and blessing
Perfection and peace.
There’s understanding!
Even when we feel pain
There’s healing, faith and redemption,
At the mention of His name.
And it doesn’t matter the size of your burden
The scale of your mountain
The weariness of your journey.
In that Name there is hope and joy and rest
In his Name we are blest.
His Name is listening for the echo of worshipers.
In the midst of this earthly mess
His Name redeems
The all-sufficient king
The warrior of righteousness
Over every living thing
And no matter how deep the hurt
Or the chains that have bound you for years
We are free! All those things that drive us insane
Are stepping stones to holiness with the power of that Name.
What is that name that changes us?
Who is the fourth person in the furnace
The One who closed the mouths of lions
Who crushed the head of the accuser
And exiled demons from the weak.
And opened muted mouths to speak.
What is that Name?
What is the greatest name we’ll ever say
Who remains victorious to this day?
Who is this one greater than the grave?
Who lived and died to save?
Who conquered death and walked away
With scars of crimson stain
The one who bears the mark
Jesus is His Great NAME!

It is John who names Christ, logos, “the Word,” and John later who identifies that word—God is love.

What are we waiting for? “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
“Love in his name,” is both what we receive and what we must do.

Prayer: The Greeting
Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those people whose portion in life is this world  — Psalm 17:14

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 3 (Listen – 3:38)
John 1 (Listen – 6:18)

Additional Reading
Read More from Matt Tullos about Purpose
No one else was less deserving of Friday. But in a transcendent, eternal sense there was no one else in the history of the universe qualified for Friday.

Read More about Breath, Reconsidered
We are Adam’s first breath,
His first breath, re-breathed.


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His Loving Presence :: Love of Advent

Luke 24.36
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them…

Reflection: His Loving Presence :: Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Where did Jesus go when he disappeared from Emmaus?

We do not know, other than he traveled to meet them once again. First he was suddenly missing on the road, then suddenly standing among them back in Jerusalem.

He came to them.
He is always the God who comes to us—not just during Advent.

He comes to us in Genesis and in John 1 as the source of life, light, and goodness.
He comes, calling to us in the garden, “where are you?
He comes to us, burning in a bush, experiencing the suffering of those who cry out to him.
He comes to us, outside of Jericho—a mighty commander, neither on our side or our enemies’.
He comes to us in the voices of the prophets, crying in the wilderness, in the palace throne rooms, in the city streets, from the city walls, from the corruption-filled temple courts, from the bottom of cisterns—crying for justice, for the end of oppression and violence against the defenseless.
He comes to us as to Jerusalem, as the arriving king, the teacher of wisdom, and the healer of the blind and lame.
He comes to us as the unwanted king, a stumbling block, and a rejected cornerstone, weighed in the balance with a sinful thumb on the scale—righteousness himself, condemned by the sinfully corrupted.
He comes to us, resurrected. Both corporeal and transcendent. One foot in our eternity and one in our present.
He comes to us as the Holy Spirit, that we may carry out his actions in the physical world in his power.

The gift of his presence is why he came. It is why he left Heaven and eternity to enter time, and skin, and intimate relationships. Jesus chooses messy companionship over perfect solitude. He is the God who risks pain and death to gain our fickle friendship and vacillating love.

Where is God when we don’t see him? He is both among us, leading us, and coming to us. He comes, bringing us the gift of his loving presence.

What are we waiting for? He is among us. His love and power are present in our midst. With the gift of his presence, we need not be troubled. We need not shrink from suffering, service, or humiliating treatment.

We are with him. And wherever we go in the world may be blessed by his love and his peaceful presence.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
He sent redemption to the his people; he commanded his covenant forever; holy and awesome is his Name.  — Psalm 111:9

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 2 (Listen – 2:44)
Luke 24 (Listen – 6:16)

Additional Reading
Read More about Quieted with Love :: Advent’s Love
God’s love for us is passionate and unrelenting—he pursued us even to death on a cross.

Read More about Seeing the Lord :: Readers’ Choice
God’s presence reaches into every part of the world as his Spirit empowers people of faith in each vocation

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Risks of Faith :: Advent’s Love

It is God’s love for us, not ours for him, that is the context for faith. Our ability to love God is imperfect—though spiritual disciplines and the rhythms of community can shape them greatly, as C.S. Lewis explains in Mere Christianity:

People are often worried. They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.

Lewis isn’t deceived—“go and do it” only works until you can’t, or simply don’t—then what becomes of faith? He continues:

On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about.

Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’

He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

There is no faith without risk, and no reward in heaven for returning spiritual armor without dents. The armor of God is to protect believers as we apply our faith in a broken world—will not our hearts grow weary? The gospel is that Christ has succeeded where we have failed.

We do not shrink back because we are inconsistent in our love for God—we take risks of faith because God is relentless in his love for us.

Listen: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Ella Fitzgerald (3:20)

Today’s Reading
Zephaniah 1 (Listen – 3:09)
Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)