The Saving Grace of Redemption Part 5 of an Advent Journey

By Marcy Barthelette

Lord, Christmas lights twinkle over our entire neighborhood. Let each be a star to

guide wisdom into our homes.—Mark Collins

This Christmas, 2020, is different in so many ways. We aren’t sharing it with those we love, at least not as we normally would. We’ll talk and Facetime and share time together electronically, but there won’t be hugs and shared meals. We won’t spend Christmas Eve in a candlelit church. Perhaps that offers us new opportunities to experience our modern-day Christmas more like that little family did so long ago. No, no, no. We don’t need to seek out a dirty stable filled with noisy animals and unsavory smells, but perhaps without all the distractions of gifts and noisy conversation we can more easily imagine ourselves there.

Give me faith to believe that, at the birth of Jesus, you really did enter this world—my world—and

you’re still working powerfully in it. Mel Lawrenz, Christmas Joy

In a few days, it will be over for another year. The gifts will be scattered throughout the house, some of them broken from so much use. The food that has filled our stomachs will have settled in places where we’d rather it hadn’t. We’ll tire of the tree and all the other decorations that seem out of place in our homes once the excitement is over. We’ll be ready for the kids to go back to school, for football season to play out its finish, to plunge back into the busyness of life once again. The carols, the shared stories, the new memories will all be stored away in the recesses of our hearts, to be pondered just as Mary did after that first Christmas.

Every day can be like Christmas in its love and peace if our hearts open up and make

room for love. The holy child is waiting to be born in every instant,

not just once a year. Marianne Williamson

But as Christians, we know that Christmas was just the beginning of the story. Babies grow, they become wobbly toddlers, and then they run. Jesus was no different. He required diaper changes, 2 AM feedings, and potty training. He grew up beside a carpenter, perhaps helping to build the necessities of the time. He probably roamed the city streets with friends and faced temptations that all growing boys face. It’s hard to imagine him in those circumstances yet he came to earth with the distinct intent to live a human life and experience the day-to-day joys and challenges of his human peers.

And as all young boys must, he grew into manhood. When he reached his thirtieth year he began to teach and carry out the ministry he was intended for. As with most public figures, reactions were mixed. Many loved him and followed him wherever he spoke. But others hated him and were jealous of the attention he received. They were threatened by his presence. They wanted him eliminated.

In a few short weeks, we will begin another journey, one that leads to a crude and lonely cross. Without the miracle of Christmas, we couldn’t experience another miracle, the grace of redemption.

Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior”.

Luke 1:46-49 

He will not be separated from her. Jesus will take His own flesh and blood from hers,

and she will be the source of His humanity. All of this is grace, a free gift from God.

We, too, are people who have been graced, just as Mary was. The Lord took on

human flesh because He refuses to be separated from us broken, sinful

human beings. He suffered, died, and rose again so that we could become

His “graced ones”—the people God is with forever. Dr. Kari Vo, LHM

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