Here we are with a storm day and no church service. Here are a few of the thoughts that I would have shared in the message.
My understanding of human nature is that all of us go around with a sign on our forehead that reads, "Love me." Now, if we said that to everyone we met, they might call the authorities. However, that is one of our soul cravings - to be loved unconditionally. Loved in spite of our faults. Loved because we matter. That is why Jesus is so compelling in how He treats people. Everyone matters. Everyone is welcome to receive all that He has to offer.
While we are looking for that type of love, we still hold on to a suspicion that some people matter more than others - that some people are more worthy of love than others. I've been in a restaurant where a street-dweller was refused service - regardless of ability to pay. I've been in a church where someone wanted to put up a fence to keep undesirables off the property. I'm even guilty of telling jokes that speak of some group not being as worthy of respect. All this is not good.
In Jesus I see people treated in a way that makes us uncomfortable, because it challenges us to love in the same way. After all, that's what being Jesus' disciple is all about. But if we have received this love, how can we hold back from loving others?
I admit, I like certain people more than others. I will enjoy a night out with certain friends. But I must learn to love deeply, even as I desire to be loved. A priest was asked by a TV host why he did not turn in the gang members with whom he ministered. His response was that he did not make his vows with the police department. When a gang member was aksed why the priest did not turn them over to the cops, his response was, "God... I guess." He understood something of unconditional love.
Jesus tells a story in Luke 14 about how we are to think of ourselves and treat others. We are to be humble in our estimation of ourselves. We are to show hospitality to those who cannot repay. And the result is, God will lift us up, and God will repay our obedience.
As followers of Jesus we must learn how to live this way. Our world continues to promote self-fulfillment and entitlement while Jesus commands self-denial and unconditional love. It doesn't make sense. But when I look at the lives touched by Jesus (including this month) the results are supernatural. The Kingdom of God, with all the love to receive, and love to give, is the best gift of Christmas.
Think about your own need for love. How does Jesus meet that need in spite of who you are?
Think about how you love others. Do you have "standards" for giving love, or are you able to be unconditional?