And Now these three remain faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthian 13:13)
The Value of Love
In this Season of Advent, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and look with anticipation to His return; though we know not the hour or the day He shall return. In this secular society, families have different ways of celebrating Christmas. Over the years, most families develop special Traditions, as their ritual of celebration. For many families, exchanging gifts, enjoying time from work, attending office Parties, or watching College Football defines the log of tradition.
However, there is a greater gift. If we wrap ourselves in it, our heart is warmed, and our minds rejoice. The Apostle Paul writes of this gift. He wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthian 13:13).” No other gift is needed more than love. You can’t buy love at the Grocery Store, Macy’s, J. C. Penney, Walmart or from any other store. You can’t order love from amazon.com or anywhere else on the internet. Love comes from within you. It defies every tradition. I hope, for your family, Christmas is a time when differences are put aside. I hope we all can thank God, we’re able to share our appreciation for one another.
Matthew gives us details of the birth of Jesus. In his story, he tells us Mary is engaged to Joseph (Matthew 1:18). To understand this story, it must be considered in context and considering the Hebrew Marriage Customs of the first century. Marriages were arranged, and contracts negotiated by parents. After the primary functions of the ritual were accomplished and the couple considered married they did not initially live together as husband and wife.
The woman continued living with her parents, and the man with his, for a period of one year. This period of waiting was called “The Pledge of Purity.” It fully demonstrated a bride’s faithfulness to her husband. If she became pregnant, during this period, she obviously was not pure and evidently had become involved in an unfaithful sexual relationship. Therefore, the marriage could be annulled. If, on the other hand, the one-year waiting period demonstrated purity by the bride, the husband went to his bride’s parents house, after the year ended, brought her home with him, consummated the marriage, and the two of them begin living together, as husband and wife.
During the year that Mary and Joseph were married, Mary became pregnant while engaged in the Period of Waiting, Although
Mary had not engaged in sexual intercourse with a man. She was faithful to Joseph. The scripture says she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. As a man, Joseph was entitled to his rights to divorce her according to their laws. Furthermore, he was justified to publicly disgraced her. He might have called her every dark and facetious name from the street vocabulary of the day-names which painted devious words as they escaped the tip of his tongue. Instead, he loved her. His loved permitted him to complete the Marital Ritual. Then, he did something unexpected from a mature man of his status. He followed heavenly dictates, received in a dream. We know what happened as the story progressed.
My prayer for you and your family this year is that you spread love, rather than hate and discord. If love has not already taken root in the heart of your family members, I pray that it does. I pray you love one another; even as Christ loves you.
The Rev. Dr. J. Douglas Childers is a Retired United Methodist Pastor, a Volunteer of FS-BH Alumni Board and member of the Class of 1968.