Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light,
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Grace is a gift. It’s not earned, not owed. It is a present, given willingly and lovingly. Grace is the cousin of mercy. But where mercy spares us from getting what we deserve, grace is itself an undeserved gift.
Grace and Christmas
For Christians, Christmas is the celebration not only of the birth of Christ, but of the grace made available through Him. When we accept grace through Christ, we must love honestly and hate evil, overcoming it with good; when people hate and persecute us, we are called to give up our desire for vengeance. We are to be hopeful, patient, sincere, hardworking, and hospitable to strangers. We should overflow with thanksgiving and be compelled to rejoice, for grace is the enemy of bitterness. Grace helps us overcome weakness. Grace gives us comfort in our time of need. Grace spurs us to serve one another according to our strengths and talents. Grace works through humility and teaches us to live dutiful, self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.*
Christmas marks the turning point in history when God became man and grace was made available to all who accept it and follow Christ. Christians are called to respond to the grace they have received with a love that is evident in all aspects of their lives.
Grace and Family
One week from today, millions of families and friends will gather together to celebrate Christmas. Loved ones will joyfully reunite after spending years apart. Beloved and familiar faces will seem more beautiful under soft, twinkling lights on a tree. Anticipation will make it hard to sleep. Normally late risers will awake at dawn. Generosity will abound as presents are exchanged. Small gestures will take on deep meaning. Children will leap for joy. Parents will remember once again why it is better to give than to receive. Good cheer will become infectious. Cheeks will be sore from so much smiling. Families and friends will eat together, sip cocoa together, laugh and be merry together.
This Christmas, a resurgence of grace will envelope the lives of those who allow it to do its mysterious and wondrous work. Estranged family members will make peace. Cold and shrunken hearts—like the Grinch’s—will be made whole again by expressions of love and mercy. Benevolence and charity will beget gratitude. Gracious acts will lift spirits. Debts will be canceled. Those made tired by resentment will find rest in forgiveness. The hurt will be comforted by the kindness of friends. The desperate will find hope in the love and life of Christ.
Christ and Christmas
The birth of Christ turned the world on its end. The first became last and the last became first. The poor and meek became blessed. Wealth was no longer defined by material possessions, but by the condition of the soul. Loving enemies became an order and being charitable an obligation. Forgiveness was made available to all those who ask for it. The first Christmas truly was “the dawn of redeeming grace.”*
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season. This time of year brings joy to so many and I am grateful for the opportunity to remember the birth of Christ and to spend time with family. My hope for all of you is that you will have a loving, generous, and peaceful holiday.