Thursday, December 16

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2021 Advent Devotional: In the Midst of Changing Ways – Many Gifts, One Spirit

Week 3: The Gift of Love

Scripture: Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Reflector: Jason Malmberg

Jesus tells us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” in Mark 12:31. But who is our neighbor?

Luis (names have been changed for privacy) and his family were a part of the migrant mass that was like a wave, making its way from Guatemala to Mexico, and causing panic to some. After many attempts, Luis and his family were granted asylum. They eventually found themselves in Colorado just in time for the start of the new school year. Luis is now a student of mine, and is a part of a new guitar class. We were able to hold our first concert recently. Luis has just learned his first four or five chords and performed them beautifully, bringing tears to the eyes of those of us who had some knowledge of what he’d been through in recent months, likely years.

As a musician and music teacher, I think music is a universal language. Luis, in his guitar playing, played a song of love and hope. Like many of our own families who have immigrated to the United States seeking a chance for a better life, Luis’s family had to make the difficult decision to leave their home. They were not part of a horde. One of the directives in Leviticus is to welcome the stranger. Luis’s song of love and hope shows what can happen when we truly “love thy neighbor.”

Prayer: Loving God, help us to truly welcome the stranger and follow your great commandment to love they neighbor. We were all strangers at one time, and it is through your love that we truly become neighbors. Amen.