Grace to you and peace this Christmas Season!
One beautiful way to define grace is, “the stance of kindness and favour toward someone.” When I understand grace as a stance, or act, of kindness and favour I realize how powerfully the word grace captures the essence of Christmas.
You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. (2 Corinthians 8.9 NLT)
Though [Christ Jesus] was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. (Philippians 2:6-7 NLT)
Christmas is the celebration of this generous grace of God; the generous act of kindness that came from a heart of love directed toward a world in desperate need of God’s favour/goodwill/kindness. God coming to us as a human being! The Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us! Emmanuel – God is with us! This is grace! This is Christmas!
God desires that we all experience kindness! God desires that we all receive grace! So God in a generous act of grace and kindness acted for our sakes. God set aside the riches of divine nature and was born as a humble vulnerable and economically poor human being. Jesus then lived a life rich in kindness and grace toward all, sharing grace wherever he was. And then “he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” to save humanity from the power of sin and death (Philippians 2:8). Jesus did all that because of love. Jesus did all that so that we could live lives rich in grace and kindness too!
This Christmas we are invited once again to receive this grace and then live lives of grace and kindness to all. 2020 has been hard for all of us in various ways. The challenges of the pandemic have affected so many dimension of our lives and has created much occasion for worry, stress, fear and grief. All this has greatly impacted our Mental Health. Add to that the truth that so many of the healthier coping mechanisms that support our mental health are either unavailable to us or too risky due to the contagious nature of the coronavirus. To keep physically safe we have needed to avoid many of the important things used to support our mental health. All this to say that more than ever we all need the essence of Christmas; more than ever we all need generous acts of grace/kindness toward us.
As we protect and care for each other physically this Christmas, by staying apart, how can we insure that Christmas still comes to each of us, and for all of us? Maybe we answer this question by asking a few more. How can we still extend kindness and grace to those in the circle of our love? How can we share the message and essence of Christmas this year? I offer a few humble suggestions and invite you to add your own.
- Acknowledge to each other how hard this year has been and allow yourselves and others to grieve.
- Give one another permission to not be at their best this Christmas. And let go of the guilt we feel about not being at our best. Let go of the pressure we feel to make this the best Christmas ever.
- Ask each other, and talk to one another, about Mental Health.
- Pray for each other! And occasionally let people know that you are doing that.
- Laugh and have fun.
- Stay in touch with family and friends through hand written cards, emails, texts, social media or phone calls.
- Create a care package and drop it off at someone’s door.
- If someone drops the ball on something extend grace to them realizing you may need the same grace extended to you some day.
- Be who God created you to be and act as God leads you…
Kindness, caring and gracious acts are in our DNA as a people of God. At one point in history our God and heavenly parent, in the gracious act we now call Christmas, came to us in human flesh. Jesus came to us “for our sakes” and Jesus invites us to follow him and continue the ministry of generous grace; acts of kindness toward all. This is the essence of Christmas!