The 2012 Family Sunday and Carol Service was held on December 23, 2012.
The Theme of the Family Service was God is Love (1 John 4: 7 - 21). The message of that day centred on God's love to us and the practical lessons for us Christians. In summary, the speaker shared 8 characteristics of God's Love as excerpted from Richard L. Strauss. God's love is:
- Self-giving: Love involves action. It is expressed in the giving of oneself for the good of another. On the contrary, our love oftentimes is selfish and demanding. God's love is pure. Because He is love, He loves to give! (Mat 7: 11; James 1: 17). What lesson is there for us? - Knowing the God of love can help to make us more loving and giving persons.
- Sacrificial: Not only does God's love motivate Him to give, but it motivates Him to give when it costs Him dearly. Let us personalize John 3: 16, thus: "For God so loved ME that He gave His only Beloved son at Christmas, that whosoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life." Sacrificial love is also talked about by in Romans 5: 8 and 1John 4: 9, 10. Jesus' offering to die for us, when He had to power to do otherwise showed sacrificial love. In Galatians 2: 20, Paul described Him as the "Son of God who loved Me." John 15: 13 talks of "No greater Love hath than this, that He gave up His life for us..." The lesson? - Whenever we are tempted to think that no one loves us, we should think of the cross - that is the epitome of love.
- Unconditional: In the 80s, Donna Summer's Song Give Me Your Unconditional Love was quite a hit. In reality, we humans cannot love others unconditionally. The amazing thing about God's love is that it is extended to us when we do not deserve it and continues steadfast and strong even when we do not respond to it. We do not merit God's love, yet He still loves us. In fact it is His love for us that gives us our worth. The lesson here is: Let us not be performance oriented - feeling approved when we have performed to someone's expectation and vice versa. Knowing God intimately will help us express love to others even when they do not perform to our expectation.
- Eternal: God is an eternal God, therefore His love must be eternal. Paul assured us in Romans 8: 29, nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God. Our lesson is drawn from Galatians 6: 9; just as we as advised not to grow weary in doing good, we too should not grow weary in loving others, not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year.
- Infinite/Unlimited/Immeasurable: We can NEVER exhaust God's love! Think of it, if it was exhaustible, wouldn't we hoard God's love? in Ephesians 3: 19, Paul called it a love that surpasses human knowledge. He also called it great love (Eph 2: 4) and tried to describe its depth, breadth, and length in Eph 3: 18. Our lesson is that we cannot exhaust God's love and therefore we should keep drawing from His inexhaustible supply because doing so will enable us to keep extending love to those around us even when our love is not returned.
- Holy: The above characteristics may tempt one to think God's love is soft. on the contrary. Since God is Holy, then His love must be a Holy Love that encourages holiness in those loved. In Eph 1: 4, we are urged to be holy and without blame before Him. Holiness requires obedience to God, a fact He asserted in 1Sam 15: 22 that obedience is better than sacrifice. When we don't obey, God disciplines us because He loves us (Heb 12: 6; Prov 3: 12; Jer 44: 2-5). We learn that we too, especially parents should not desist from disciplining our children to ensure the kind of behaviour that will bring them future happiness.
- Comforting: many people crave for love because it is comforting. True love brings security and comfort. Just read 1 John 4: 18. What is our lesson? When we grasp the reality of God's love, we will no longer seek security in our jobs, bank accounts, investments, houses, spouses, friends or health. We will rest in the Lord, free from all fear, secure in the assurance that He is going to provide all that we need and protect us from everything that will not be for our good.
- Life-changing: Look at the lives of people who have been changed after knowing God. There are many testimonies out there. It is usually hard for us to love others unless we too feel loved, isn't it? We are unconsciously saying, why should I be loving to others when nobody shows me any love? The good news is that God's love can change that. I love the song, Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so...The lesson to us is: remember to look for God's love and then you can go out and love others. We should stop our selfish attitude that "I must love myself first".
Mother Teresa said, There's more hunger in the world for Love than for bread. So, we Christians should reach out, not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year to those who need love. The Bible in 1John 4 says we cannot love God unless we love others. Therefore, let us be instruments that reflect God's love unto others.
Reflections for Carol service were also on God's Love. The introduction given at the start of the Carol Service read as follows:
Christmas is here with us! Is it going to be “just another normal Christmas?” For some, they will literally embrace the word “merry” in Christmas and engage in excessive consumption of alcohol, because it’s the season to do so. For others, especially children, Christmas is a time for new clothes while to some it is the time to eat, eat and eat!
But what is the true meaning of Christmas? Christmas reminds us of God’s love to mankind; a time that God the Son left His heavenly throne to come to earth and was born in the most humble manner.
One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved. We all need love. We need to know that we are important to somebody, that somebody truly cares about us, wants us, and accepts us unconditionally. When we doubt that we are loved, we may develop unacceptable behavior patterns to compensate for it. The recent shooting of school children and teachers in Connecticut, America by Adam Lanza could be a reflection of this.
The good news from God’s Word is that somebody truly loves us. To know Him is to find release from the crippling effects of feeling unloved. Twice the Apostle John categorically stated that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Love is one of the warmest words in any language, and that God is love is one of the most sublime, uplifting, and reassuring truths known to mankind. Love is His nature. It is not merely a friendly attitude He projects. It is the essence of His being. He is always going to act toward us in love because He cannot do otherwise. Love is the way He is.
No one attribute of God is any more important than any other, and all His attributes are expressed in conjunction with each other. Yet some believe that love may be the most powerful motivating force in all of God’s being. It deeply affects everything else God is and all that He does. Knowing God’s love could well be the believer’s key to a well-balanced, satisfying life of peace, productivity, and power.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us remember the reason for the season – that God is Love. That he sent us His only Beloved son to be born in our midst so that we may not perish but live eternal lives, with Him. Jesus gave us to commandments – to Love God and to love our neigbours as we love ourselves. May this Christmas be a time for us to reflect upon God’s Love and may it spur us to love Him with all our hearts, minds and souls and that we will be instruments to reflect God’s love to others. Merry Christmas!