I heard a song several Christmases ago:
There’s a magic in the air
You can feel this time of year
All around the world
As Christmas time draws near…
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” said Articus Finch, the fictional lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird.
We tend to withdraw into an enclave (closed society) and associate with people just like us, avoiding opposition from those who see the world differently. I must admit I like to be with those of like-minded friends than to feel awkward in a different social encounter. When I find myself in an awkward and unfamiliar place, I will keep my eyes and ears open and mouth shut. This is a difficult task because I have never been afraid to express my opinion especially in our traditional society with its unwritten rules. I will try to listen only. I will learn to sharpen my own beliefs and, second, to live out my faith. It takes no grace to relate to someone who looks, thinks, and acts just like me.
Grace, according to Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, is to “love the stranger”. He adds, “The supreme religious challenge is to see God’s image in one who is not in our image.”
Most of us know about the other person but we don’t really know that person. If I judge you from what I know back in 2005, I have not matured. I have not learned to accept you and your growth through the years. We can only assume to know them so before we pass judgment we will practice grace. It is difficult to practice grace without receiving grace. Love wrapped in Grace was born on that first Christmas night. The sky was bright with hosts of angels singing Peace on Earth. Our creator basically climbed down into our skin and walked around in it…that is grace. In him, we find that transcending peace. My gift this Christmas is to practice grace beginning with me… especially when I mess up, say things inappropriately or simply failed to do what I said I would do. In other words, I will not be so hard on myself. So I can be gracious to you…I will do my utmost to pray for you and not see you through the eyes I had in Year 2005.
Grace is to give favor where favor is not deserved.
I will not expect my relationship with God to look like anyone else’s or I will sabotage the relationship. God’s presence in my life is totally unique. So is yours. Your conversation with Him this Christmas may be verbal or nonverbal, a canvas of colorful shapes or without images. I will not try to measure my spirituality by comparing what happens to me with what happens to you.
I need to know exactly what self-actualization means to practice grace. It means being gracious is not contingent on how you treat me.
I wish you love, peace, and joy this Christmas. [/restrict]