The miracle of love

December 21, 2020 | Cynthia Carr

About the author: Cynthia Carr has been actively attending ZPC for 15 years and is a current Elder. She’s a member of ZPC’s Food Pantry and Intercessory Prayer ministries and has cherished being on several Great Banquet teams. Cynthia and her husband, John, have two college sons, Ryan and Jason, and two therapy dogs, Stella and Louie.

Love is represented by a heart. A girlfriend texted me a heart at the conclusion of her prayer request for a loved one going through health challenges. And then the heart exploded into a shimmering multitude of hearts, using the echo effect to emphasize her appreciation; a sign of her love. 

We use the word ‘love’ with family and friends to communicate our deep and sincere affections for each other. It encompasses a vast array of feelings, senses, and emotions. Yet we also tend to throw the word around casually without the same weight: we love a particular food, or the Christmas lights decorating a neighbor’s house, or a rainbow after a rainstorm promising God’s provision. Yet how do we fully feel and demonstrate love? 

Isaiah 7:10-16 reveals the Lord speaking to Ahaz, "Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights." Isaiah’s response is emphatic when Ahaz says he won’t put the Lord to the test. Isaiah declares that, “the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel, God with us! My Bible notes share that this passage has become synonymous with the birth of Christ. The name, Immanuel, God with us, became a title for the Messiah. How meaningful for us as a congregation to participate in Jason Chapel’s rhetorical response during worship a week ago: Immanuel; God With Us! How Mary must have felt an overwhelming love for this child born to her. God offered his sign to reveal his grace and ongoing concern (or love, my interpretation) for Judah’s destiny.

One of the goals of these devotions, I was told, is to focus on the transformation God is doing in our lives. As a result of my participation, I have personally been awed and deeply touched by my connection with the tremendous ladies who pray in the Chapel weekly on Monday mornings. These ladies stand in the gap as part of ZPC’s larger Intercessory Prayer Team. This has been an important, decades long ministry for our church. 

God has been working to unite us each week. We have grown to love each other: an intergenerational group ranging in years from our 40s to our 90s years young! We love our God with all our hearts and find it a privilege to intercede on behalf of others. We appreciate each other’s stages of life as we share life experiences as mothers, grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and aunts. We have shared praises as children have gotten married; grief over loved ones passing on; and celebrated graduations and life accomplishments. It has united us in a powerful way in prayer and love.

In this unique and unsettling year of the pandemic, ZPC’s Intercessory Prayer Team has continued to gather and pray for the needs of our ZPC community, friends and family members, the local communities, and the clients at our Food Pantry.  Our meeting time has changed from the Chapel to a zoom call to protect everyone’s safety.  While we meet weekly to pray, we are in constant and encouraging support of each other’s needs through daily prayer texts, caring phone call outreaches, and encouraging words of faith and scripture. 

We recently prayed hourly, on the hour, for three days for four specific people. These people were also from three different generations, which was meaningful to each of us. The experience was a powerful connection to be knit together with the Holy Spirit, petitioning for the needs of each of God’s children….whom he loves. This act of compassion was breathtaking. It echoed Christ’s love for us. We were setting aside time hourly for four people in health distress, praying for miracles, and receiving the miracle of love in return. I awoke on the 2nd day of our prayer vigil with the overwhelming sense of being loved by these ladies, and by God. He provided the connection by giving us the privilege to love on those in need through prayer and petition. 

Our meditations and time with God during these 40 days approaching Christmas have inspired me in ways I couldn’t have known, but God did. Our gracious Lord has a plan for it all, each of you, and LOVES us while he does it.  God with us is exactly how our Messiah wants us to love on others. Our team is praying for you and your families this Christmas. As you seek him and draw nearer to Christ, may he bless you with complete JOY, perfect PEACE, and his steadfast LOVE!  

Immanuel, God with us!