Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. As it is at the center of our lives and our longed for destination, love must be discovered and cherished. While it is impossible to define, as difficult, to capture as a wisp of wind, love moves and shapes us like nothing else. It is both ethereal and as a real as anything we have known. Love leads no armies and possesses no land, yet it is the most powerful force in the world. It is all that we were made to strive for. We attain and try to fill ourselves of practically everything else; knowing ultimately that only love satisfies and truly fills us. At our best, it is how we understand each other, and how we understand ourselves. Love is the harmony that holds everything together. All we value ends in love. If you raise beauty to its limit, you have said love. If you have invested fully in hope, you are immersed in love. If you seek to create, you can only do so in love. Whatever is good culminates at its best in love.
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. Perhaps because it resists definition, love must always takes on a person. Who changes everything for the concept of love or its theory? For us love is defined by the people who have loved us and whom we have been blessed to love. We know love because it is embodied. It has a face. When we think of love, we think of those of have shaped our lives by love, whether they have gone before us or are still with us. Those people we cannot help but think about at Christmas.
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. We know love because someone loved us into being. We know love for the sacrifice that has been made for us. We know love in the thrill of falling in love, in the maturity of being in love, in the surrender we give to our children. We know love from the gift of friendship when our anxieties melt into the peace of our friend’s care.
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. If God is love (and God is love) then God must be made manifest. God must be made known. And that is Christmas. Divine love showed its face in Jesus Christ. A love at once precious, immediate and eternal. That love came subtly and humbly, as love sometimes does, in a manger to obscure parents. And that love came dramatically, as love sometimes does, with a host of angels giving glory to God. But that love came definitively. In the love of Jesus Christ, we know what it means to love without all the things that blur or block our love. He showed us to live for another. He taught us what it means to die for everyone and in the resurrection proved that love could not be defeated. With nothing more available to him that we have, he showed us how love can be radically lived with abandon and true joy.
And, if the love we have for each other, with its imperfections, its sloppiness and selfishness, its possessiveness and all its other faults, can still shape our lives, how much more can divine love shake us. It must have the greatest impact. Having been this loved and this chosen, we must look at ourselves differently. We cannot think of ourselves as not worth it when such a price has been paid; we cannot think of ourselves as incapable when such a way has been shown. Having been loved so completely in Jesus Christ and having his spirit fill us is the defining moment of our lives. This is who we are, the beloved of God who has treasured us. We can no longer look at ourselves the same way. We cannot look at others the same way either.
This is what we celebrate today -that God’s love has been showered upon us. It has been manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. It has been made known because Jesus made it known. This is what we celebrate – that our brother Jesus has known us and loved us.
This is what we celebrate – that love is still alive. It is worth everything. It is why choirs of angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on whom his favor rests.”