Advent Day 25 (December 21st)

You’re Worth Loving

This year St. Peter’s UCC in Grant Park is providing the book A Love Worth Giving to You at Christmas by Max Lucado for our members to distribute to their families, friends, and neighbors as a small gift.

Each book includes an invitation to worship with our church family on Christmas Eve.

Throughout Advent we are reminding everyone that they are worth loving!

Lucado writes, “(Jesus) went from commanding angels to sleeping in straw.  From holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger.  The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier.  Why?  Because that’s what love does.”

Each day, during Advent, join us for a journey to see just how much God’s love for you is evidenced in the story of Christmas.

Be Authentic

You probably wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that Jesus spent a lot of time in the temple during His years of ministry.

From the temple area He often spoke to His followers and anyone standing around listening.

Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

(Luke 20:45-47, NLT)

I’m sure He was aware that the religious leaders were within earshot and would hear His words as well, but even so, Jesus would often caution His disciples to be weary of those leaders.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time loved to look important.  They would dress in their religious garb so that everyone would recognize them and would be tickled pink when people greeted them in the streets and marketplaces.  It made them feel important.

The leaders even grabbed the front seats in the synagogues so that everyone would see them and exalt them as important figures in their society.

However, Jesus not only saw their outward appearances, He knew their inward, evil thoughts and intentions. 

He had no problem calling them out.  He even called them hypocrites.

Jesus warned that they would be punished because instead of serving others by loving them and showing genuine kindness, they wanted to be served themselves.

They weren’t authentic religious leaders, meaning they knew God, they acted like they were good Christians, but their outward actions didn’t meet their inward integrity.

How many of us struggle with being authentic Christians?

In order to be truly authentic we need to be aware of ourselves inwardly.  Do we give to be seen or to have people return thanks to us?  Do we prop ourselves up so others can see us in church, or our actions, and think “wow, that person is a great Christian.”

If you think about it, many of us act like the hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus’ day without realizing it. 

We must remember that Jesus knows our inward thoughts and intentions.

Friends, we don’t need to put on a show.  Jesus knows the real me, the real you – and guess what?  He LOVES YOU just the way you are. 

YOU are WORTHY to be loved because He created you and you belong to Him.

As you ready yourself for Christmas in just a few days remember that God accepts you just the way you are.  He knows your thoughts and actions and he doesn’t want you to put on a show for others but to be authentic.

Authentically in love with Him.

Prayer:  Loving God, we are not perfect and you know it.  Keep us humble before You and before others as we strive to be obedient to You and loving towards others.  Amen.