A few years ago, while I was taking a class at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, I met a nice young fellow by the name of Derrick, on his way to becoming a priest in the Anglican Church; this while I was at the peak of my conversion to historically informed worship. Derrick gave me a gift before we parted at the end of the term: a little book titled Love Came Down: Anglican Readings for Advent and Christmas. This is my third Advent season going through the book, which is broken down into forty or so two page readings, one for each day of Advent and Christmas.

Today's reading, December 18, is particularly awe-inspiring, so I thought I'd share it with you. It comes from a sermon by Richard Baxter. Would that you would not lightly read the following excerpt, but engage your heart in the wonder of God's love in worship and adoration:

Oh, what then would I not either perform or part with to enjoy a clear and true apprehension of the most true God! How noble a faculty of the soul is the understanding! It can encompass the earth; it can measure the sun, moon, stars, and heaven; it can foretell each eclipse to a minute many years before: yes, but this is the top of all its excellency, it can know God who is infinite, who made all these, a little here, and more, and much more hereafter.

And if this were all, what a high favor that God will give us permission to love him; that he will allow himself to be embraced by the same arms that have embraced lust and sin before him! But this is not all; he returns love for love, yes, a thousand times more. As perfect as we shall be, we cannot reach his measure of love. Christian, you will be then brimful of love; yet love as much as you can, you will be ten thousand times more beloved. Do you think you can outlove God? What, love more than love itself? Were the arms of the Son of God open upon the cross, and an open passage made to his heart by the spear, and will not arms and heart be open to you in glory? Did God begin to love before you loved, and will not God continue now? Did God love you, and enemy, you a sinner, you who even loathed yourself, and own you when you disdained yourself; and will God not now immeasurably love you a child, you a perfect saint, you who returns some love for love? You were accustomed to question God's love; doubt of it then if you can.

Thank you, Derrick, for giving me this powerful little book. And thank You, Jesus, for giving me a spiritual understanding of your advent love.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

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