Grace - the powerful means by which God, through no merit of our own, reaches out of eternity to save a human soul. The interruption of decay by salvation. The rescue of life from the very near peril of death.
Yet somehow, this mysterious grace is so often thought of as - perhaps confused with? - a fragile, ethereal thing. I wonder, is that because "grace" also carries alternate, very human, definitions? Grace is also defined as elegant movement (as in, "She is so graceful) and yet again can be thought of as courtesy or charm (as in, "He needed to find the grace to admit defeat").
If we, in error, conflate the meanings, mixing the divine with the human, we run the risk of diluting God's favor with the elegent arc of a dancer's arm; we run the risk of thinking of God's favor as charming rather than potent and efficacious.
Sit with the concept of grace for a moment. Consider its inherent weightiness. This is the favor of the Almighty Creator God we are considering. Rather than a veil covering us from eternal death, it is a pierce-proof armor protecting the souls of His beloved ones.
Grace. What a wonderful word.
Here we are in the last few days of 2020. It has been a strange year, and yet the rhythm holds. The entire world seems to slow down in this week between Christmas and New Year's. Businesses find a lower gear, with shorter hours and more grace for family. We cocoon with the treasures of our hearts -- family and friends.
The world takes a breath.
Between the celebration of incarnation and the headlong rush into the future, we collectively pause to assess. In a society that paces before the microwave of life, we suspend the race for a brief, almost inperceptible, moment.
The year before us holds no footprints. It is an unmarred path, a blank page, 365 boxes filled with opportunities. It seems to hold the promise of beginning again - of Jubilee for our lives and hearts and souls.
Then comes the Rose Parade (okay, it's staged in 2021!), all those Bowl games, the rifle goes off and the race is on...again...for another year.
So in the few dwindling days of this year, I pause to consider. What has my life meant in the last 363 days? Have I furthered the Kingdom? Have I been attractive for the gospel - or has my flesh pushed people away? Has the noisy, demanding tyranny of the world pushed out the still quiet voice of God in my own heart?
Christmas as a celebration of the incarnation is not a one day celebration of a rescue mission. It is a daily challenge to our way of life. Praise God that when Jesus came to earth, he passed by any bounds of race, nationality or origin. Christmas is a challenge for us to live out every day.
As I reflect on the many years now past, I realize that I do not want to live just to be old. I want to really live - live graciously and broadly in whatever years I am given. Like a traveler, I do not wish to rush around in a circle - to be taught the same lessons year after year for my failure - or refusal - to learn them. Rather, I want to push out into new thoughts, new responsibilities, ever more closely walking with God.
The old year peels off the days like an onion nearing its center: richer, fuller flavored than the dry husky days of last summer. Savoring them requires time. For in just two days, an unmarred path leads away from the fireplace and the solace of warm, snuggly places to the 365 boxes laid out ahead. 365 boxes stuffed full of opportunities to show love, compassion, and grace to those I meet and those I know. I'm not ready, but the New Year beckons.
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