I was going to wait and post this tomorrow so as not to be annoying, you know? I’m always a little worried about that, but when I saw the “20th” day lit up on the ol’ Advent calendar in the lower left corner of the picture below, I thought I might better go ahead and post today. Who ever knows about tomorrow?
We hang a tree full of reminders each year. Each and every ornament is a reminder of love, actually.
One of our favorite films to watch during the holidays is “Love Actually”.
And every year, I see new things I’ve missed previously, or maybe I’ve forgotten, or maybe my heart has actually changed.
Each year, it seems, I have a new favorite story within the larger “Love Actually” story which is about all different kinds of love and loss. I think we like the film so much because we can actually watch it without feeling sad.
At one time…
There were the estranged family members and friends that became so much more apparent at Christmas.
There were the broken marriages we both had behind us and the children’s hearts that had been broken, which broke our own, again and again.
There were the ideas of what love actually should be but never quite became.
Then there was that Christmas when we were given a “second” chance at giving and receiving love. And every Christmas since then, that would be twenty-six now, I look back on the year that has passed and see a whole slew of second chances because of one reason: Love.
Stories about love are hard to watch when we’re in a hard place. We were both in hard places before that Christmas. We were brought together, quite unexpectedly, in front of a two-story restaurant that was called Gil’s back then, by something quite beyond our own abilities to manifest, on a city street in the falling snow.
Todd’s favorite scene in the film is when the couple that finally gets together at a restaurant where the man stumbles his way through a proposal in Portugese as the woman he loves looks on from the staircase separating the two floors where she is waiting tables. She ever so demurely responds with a few words of broken English.
“You learned to speak English,” he says as if lit from within.
“Just in cases,” she says.
Just in cases…it’s a sweet ending that is a new beginning for them both.
Love isn’t always sweet, we all know that. I am never more grateful to be loved than when I’m forgiven. And that is the point of it all, isn’t it? Why we find ourselves actually living out a true love story. We have come to realize we are all a part of a greater Love Story—the story of true sacrificial love and forgiveness. The story of a God who first loved us.*
We don’t often see the words forgiveness and sacrifice printed in sparkling letters on our holiday cards. Maybe they are so deeply embedded in God’s love, it’s not necessary to call them out. We see Peace and Joy. And yet forgiveness and sacrifice are the real reminders that we are God’s own beloved children, a part of the never-ending love story in which we each have an important role.
The love that came to earth in the Christ child is the hope of sacrificial love and forgiveness we are to live out in each and every relationship, each and every day.
So “just in cases” I forget, I wrote it down.
*the beautiful Scripture referenced to meditate on is 1 John 4:19