On this fourth Sunday of Advent we draw near to the celebration of the birth of the Christ. We anticipate the joyful good news that will accompany the birth. John sums it up in the verse we all learned in Sunday school, “For God so loved the world that God gave the only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But there is a caveat to this generosity in the gospel that adds a tension that we may have missed in our youth. The verses that follow indicate that those who accept and practice this truth will live in the light but those who do not are condemned for they live in darkness.
Church history teaches us that at times we have been guilty of the practice of cultural and theological violence against those who do not share our belief system. At times the church has been called to account for its errors in failing to love the neighbor with the same kind of prodigal love expressed in John 3:16. The church has a shadow side for we do not always live in the light. We are saints and sinners with a blind spot. On this Sunday we are invited to prepare ourselves for his coming by an examination of conscience so that our lives may reflect the truth of his love for all people. Savior of the world, dispel the darkness from my life that I may reveal the truth of your love for all people. Amen.