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This Christmas, I'm reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. If you've never heard of it, it's a book about Corrie and her family who hid Jews in Haarlem, the Netherlands, during World War II. Although the book is not part of the usual Christmas readings, I'm finding that it is quite relevant for this season.

Corrie's dilemma was how to overcome fear in difficult times and act in love instead. How to respond with compassion to those who don't share our beliefs or who differ in opinions.

Love is the answer. The Bible says, "Perfect love casts out fear," (1 John 4:18) and that we are to "Do everything with love." (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV) In The Message translation, Colossians 3:14 reads, "Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it."

At this time of year, I find it beneficial - though not always easy - to reflect on what type of "garment" I've worn throughout the year. Have I worn love and expressed it in my words and actions or have I worn fear instead? When I find it difficult to love, it helps to know how much Christ loves me. Corrie found this true as well. In a heartbreaking time, her father spoke these words: "Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us his perfect way."

This is my prayer for us all. That we would clothe ourselves in God's love and then channel that love and compassion to everyone around us. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we lived this way each day? God can help us. Therefore, I ask God "to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength--that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19 MSG)

May you have a wonderful and full Christmas season experiencing the love of God and being a living expression of his love to everyone around you.

Jesus bless you,

Mary Johnson