A love to celebrate

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Have you ever experienced a rush of emotion when you see or hold a newborn child? Infants are so tiny, helpless, and innocent. Our hearts can’t help but swell with love and compassion for them. That passionate, visceral emotion is the meaning of the word that Luke uses in the Bible, when he writes of the “tender compassion” of our God, in describing the coming of Jesus.

It tells us how Jesus feels about each of us. In his tender compassion, he decided to come to earth for us. He knew what it would mean for himself: being born in a stable, being violently opposed by many of the religious leaders and dying an agonizing death on a cross. Yet he also knew that was the only way to protect and save us from the darkness and evil of our cultures.

Take a few moments to put yourself in this picture. Imagine yourself as the infant and Jesus, as the compassionate adult holding you. What are the emotions that arise in your heart? What are some of the thoughts that come to mind? Perhaps it would be good to journal them.

And if you find it a struggle to put yourself in that picture, journal your thoughts and feelings about that too. What images or memories come to mind, as you struggle with entering into that place of vulnerability? Perhaps it’s an area that God wants to bring some healing, so you are free to be vulnerable.

When you see images of the baby Jesus this Christmas, let it remind you of how much Jesus loves you. His is a visceral love that knows no bounds, one that was willing to go to any lengths to woo you into relationship with himself. This is the love that we celebrate each day but especially at Christmas.

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Becoming honest in prayer

Very often when we talk of prayer, we think of polite conversation with God – saying the right words, the right formulas, in a certain tone of voice and so on. But prayer in the Bible is anything, but that. Just read the Book of Psalms for example, which is full of raw emotion expressed to God as prayer. This is because an important aspect of engaging with God from the heart in prayer, is learning to be honest with what’s coming up in our hearts. In today’s Bible reading, we find another example of honesty in prayer and hear how it’s also the place where we can find intimacy with God.

The longings of our heart

We’re all aware from time to time, of the deep longings of our heart – for love, significance, recognition, a sense of worth, belonging, freedom and so on. But what many of us are not aware of, are the ways in which the Bible speaks about this area. And how it’s such a crucial area of our hearts to which we need to pay attention, if we want to develop an intimate relationship with God.

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