LOVE Rejoices

‘You have heard that it was said,

“You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”

But I say to you, 

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;

for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,

 and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. … 

(Matthew 5:43-48)”

We come to the final scenes of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  George Bailey having seen what his world would have been like had he not been born, relents of his wish and asks God that he might live again.  Wish granted.  When George realizes he is alive, he races through Bedford Falls greeting all with unbriddled enthusiasm.  “All” included Mr. Potter who kept his misplaced money and tried to ruin him.  It included the bank examiner.  His love, joy, peace and hope over flowed to all he met and the movie closes with people streaming into his home to help him and return that love.  As love triumphs, Clarence Oddbody, angel second class, gets his wings and we might even hear the angels in heaven rejoicing with George.

     The Matthew version of the Christmas story is much darker.  Herod does not rejoice when he learns that the wise men have had a successful journey and found the Christ child.  His hatred, jealousy and fear drive him to send his troups to kill all children under age two in Bethlehem.  The babe escapes to Egypt for love cannot be defeated by evil but the story is a grim reminder to us of the potential consequence of turning our back on God.  Hearts can be hardened and refuse love.

         Sunday is the Christmas celebration.  For many it will be a day of feasting and for some there will be sadness at not being able to feast as they want.  Gifts will be exchanged by many.  Many will be fighting cold and winter or hunger and want.  The story of love is not about giving us a good life on earth but is a story about how God jumped into our messy lives in Bethlehem, how he is faithfully being loyal to us daily and keeping his promises in sunrises and sunsets, is remembering all the good we do, and relenting of punishment for the sins that bog us down.  But mostly he is rejoicing that through the life, death and resurrect of Christ, the creator and his creation can be reconciled.  May we find time to give him the glory in the midst of our celebrations!

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