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Advent 2023 - Love

12/24/2023; 12/13/2009

1 John 3:18 (Amplified Bible)

Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity).

As most of you know, I sell dental supplies…that is my ‘day job’, and a very common item that dentists need is an adhesive. Dentists are always sticking something in your mouth: a crown, or a filling, or braces…at some point something is going into your mouth intended to stay for a while, if not permanently. 


Most adhesives or cements are two component products. They have a base, which is the part that does most of the work, and then there is a catalyst, or activator. For the product to function properly, it requires both substances. It’s like putting yeast in bread – without the yeast you still have edible results, but it doesn’t quite look like what we want. The yeast is a catalyst of sorts for bread, causing it to rise and become a loaf.


It has been said that love and respect are what holds relationships together; some have said they hold the entire world together. Respect allows others to feel valued, encouraged, and safe. It is a catalyst for love. I’ve heard ‘respect’ described as love with ‘plain clothes’ on. Love is the virtue that carries the bulk of the job, but it is respect that amplifies loves qualities to its highest levels, to Godly love, Divine Love, the love of Christ.


They are similar and both spoken about frequently in the Bible.  We are instructed to respect our mothers and fathers (Lev 19:3); to respect the elderly (Lev 19:32); to respect our government leaders (Rom 13:7); to respect our spiritual leaders (Heb 13:17); to respect God (Mal 1:6).


Women are instructed to respect their husbands (Eph 5:33). This phrase has been misinterpreted throughout the centuries giving men reason not to respect their wives and treat them poorly. Somehow the verse from 1Peter 2:17 is selectively forgotten: show proper respect to everyone.  Men are instructed in Colossians 3:19 – Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Of course, women are instructed, as are men, to love your neighbor as yourself, which means anyone that is not you. So directly or indirectly, we are all instructed to love and respect each other.


Getting back to adhesives, the base and the catalyst, are necessary to have a functioning product. They are like love and respect - a marriage needs both to be successful; any relationship needs both. Both these two components require a final step to be completed; they need to be mixed.


The base and catalyst are dispensed then mixed so that the chemistry results in a substance that when cured becomes something strong, substantial, and permanent. When making amalgam, the dentist takes an capsule, which contains some alloy power and a little envelope of mercury, places it in a machine that then shakes this capsule hard. This is called trituration. Through triturating the capsule, the envelope of mercury breaks and mixes with the alloy to form dental amalgam. When set, this material is strong and useful for a couple of decades, depending on the quality of the material.


Similarly, love and respect need an action to be completely set; they need an action performed on them - but it is not trituration. The final step for love is to share it, give it away, spread it around through serving others, doing good works and caring acts. These ingredients are intended to be mixed into our social and interpersonal relationships. The Bible tells us to “Do unto others as we want others to do unto us.” We are to act toward others, apply the final step of mixing love and respect toward others. Our opening Bible verse reveals this secret, which is so obvious we sometime forget it. The verse tells us not to pay just lip service to love, not study love, think about it, or theorize about love, but to love through our deeds, our actions, thoughts, and words, to practice love – to put it into action.


We are told to “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”  Go share the news; put love and respect into action. Oscar Hammerstein wrote some powerful lyrics set to music by Richard Rodger’s in “The Sound of Music”.

A bell is no bell ‘till you ring it;

A song is no song ‘till you sing it;

And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay,

Love isn’t love ‘till you give it away.


The culmination of love is releasing it, expressing it, giving it away. The entire meaning of Christmas is displaying and living the hope, peace, love, and joy that awaken within us as we remember who we are: a Child of God. When we allow Christ to express through us, through our lives, through our thoughts, words, and actions into Creation, we initiate the final process for love in this world.


So, the ultimate step for God’s love in the world is us…it’s you, it’s me; it’s us as individuals on a daily, moment to moment, heart to heart basis. This step is a cycle; it is one of sharing and accepting, giving and receiving. We choose to accept the love and respect of others by our active appreciation and thanksgiving. We choose to receive the love of God through our willingness to express it into the world by the kindness we show to others, by the good deeds we perform.


Love isn’t love ‘till you give it away. Until we give it away the love that we feel shrinks, diminishes, and evaporates into our ego. The more we try to cling to it and hold it close, the more it sifts through our fingers and we keep little. It is one of the most powerful lessons we learn from Jesus coming to earth:  how to love, how to be an example of love in the world. He showed us that putting other people’s needs, happiness, and welfare before our own is the highest form of love.


So, when I see happy couples, I know that they are practicing the secret of love. They have discovered and are applying respect, which is the catalyst for love, and they are willingly completing the curing process of this potent combination by putting them into action and giving them away. If we cease giving away love and respect, a relationship quickly becomes toxic and painful, the world becomes filled with strife and tension, imbalance and disharmony.


It is my prayer that we realize that God’s love is waiting to escape into the world through us, living through us, moving through us, and loving through us; but it awaits our consent and initiation of that final step … our willingness to give it away. Perhaps Advent, which means ‘coming’ is not as much about us waiting on Christ, as it is about Christ waiting on us.


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