Today at church during the children's sermon Gale, one of our co-pastors, said something that will forever be a part of how I think about Christmas. It defines so well our belief about this very special time to celebrate:
"I think of Christmas not so much as what I am going to get, but that I am going to get what I need."
You know... Christ. Grace. "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." Unmerited favor. Grace.
So, about Grace. Receiving grace is not natural to who we are. At least, it doesn't feel like it to me. I was having a conversation with a dear person in my life recently about some tough issues, and I have to say I think Grace is what she is learning.
Grace is hard to receive when you are working so hard to get it. But that is what we tend to do, isn't it? Indeed, we even try to earn love, to earn grace from our parents, our employers, our friends. If we strive, then surely we will be okay. Right? At some point we will start to feel okay with ourselves if we see that we are admired on enough people's faces.
I have a dear friend who talks about the importance of knowing that we can "Just Be" and that is enough. And you know, that is the thing with Grace. You can't strive to achieve it. You can only ask for it, and you know what? It's yours. He is waiting to give it to you. You can "Just Be." It's Okay.
And you know, I think that is one thing I learn from my boys. At their age they ask for Grace all the time. They don't worry about earning my love. They know it is there. They only need to come to me with that tear in their eye, or arms stretched open wide. I am there, just waiting to give a hug.
My friend is at the beginning of a journey to Grace. I know she has received the Grace of God, yet I see her hold on to the stance of striving. Striving for the approval of so many in her life, God included, and you know what? It is exhausting. I know. I've been there.
I'll close with a wish. A wish that we can all remember Who we are celebrating this season, and Why. That Christ is born, the One sent to save each of us from what we cannot save ourselves. The One who came to give Grace freely to each of us, just as we are. That we can "Just Be" and still be loved. Still have infinite value and purpose. That we can cease doing what we feel compelled to do, and start healing so we may do what we were created to do. This is my wish for you, friend. It is just the beginning of the road for you, if you choose. You are bathed in the prayers of the saints.