Monday, December 10, 2012

Observing Advent {week two: grace}


It's been a week, hasn't it? And we are getting ready for week two of advent at our house. In the meantime we have been plugging right along with our Christmas stuff. Our house got decorating, the tree hunted down and put up, and presents bought or ordered. I guess we've been productive. But we've still found time for resting and quiet, and for that I'm grateful. It seems that the Christmas season can slip right by and leave no room for a single thought of what the season is all about, at least that is how some years have been for us. But this year is different somehow. I'm grateful for that.

Last week we spent some time over Tuesday dinner talking about Jesus as the light. And farting noises and potty jokes aside, we managed to have a decent conversation with the kids about receiving light and being light. We even sang a few Christmas songs while I expertly accompanied plunked out some tunes on the piano.


See, we really did.

This week we will pray for the same as we talk about grace. Oh, how we all need it.

This Scripture jumped to my attention just this morning and I knew it was just where God was directing us as a family:

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

The context is all about Jesus, our great high priest who knows our weakness and was tempted just like us. He came as a baby and experienced life; heartaches and sickness, laughter and joy. He knew the full spectrum of human emotion, he understands us. What a comfort that is, that our God knows. And because he knows he is always ready to help, because he knows how difficult this life can be. He knows how desperately we need grace.

It may be hard to explain grace to young kids. But we can sum it up this way: grace is receiving what we don't deserve. I don't deserve God's love, I cannot earn it or try hard enough to be enough to deserve the lavish love he gives. He gives it all as a gift. That's what Christmas is all about, us receiving and responding to that free gift of grace. Without it I would be hopelessly lost.

We can compare his grace to the religious people in Jesus' day. They were zealous at keeping the law, doing everything right and keeping in good standing with God. If ever there were folks in need of grace, I think it was them. But today, we are no different. We try hard and do good and clean ourselves up; when in reality the road to redemption was paved by a crying baby in a dirty stable,
who grew up and was a normal boy, who then became a man who willingly gave his life in exchange for ours. Because all of our trying hard and doing good could never earn us favor with God.

So we have a choice to receive his free gift of grace. And after we do, we have a choice to extend that grace to others. In our house we have a short history of children bringing pain and punishment on their siblings because "they hit me first." But grace says even though you might deserve punishment for what you did I will respond with love. Can you imagine what a difference it would make in our lives if we all did this? No more grudges with our spouses over slights and annoyances, no more tensions with coworkers over miscommunications. There would be peace, and all because of grace.

Will we be able to communicate this to our kids? I pray we can, but I also realize that this is one that they need to see modeled. Often.

In the meantime, we choose to daily receive God's grace extended to us through Jesus. What a lovely, radical, life changing gift.

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