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Haul Out the Holly

July 20, 2020

“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety.” Titus 2:11-12a

The tune came unbidden as I read this morning’s Daily Texts. Soon I was humming, “For we need a little Christmas right this very minute…” (you’re welcome for the ear worm). This passage from Titus is read every year on Christmas Eve. It’s hard for me to hear or read it and not think of Christmas. Images begin to appear, cruciform children holding candles aloft against the darkness, welcoming our newborn king. I begin to wonder, what will a COVID Christmas look like?

Of course, it’s only July. Christmas is a long way off. But we sure could use a little of it right this very minute. Peace on earth and goodwill among the people? Sign me up. The good news about the good news, of course, is that it’s not limited to one day or season. Christ came to earth, Emmanuel, that long-ago night in Bethlehem. He is with us still. The grace of God has appeared and, while it can be hard to see, it hasn’t gone away.

I’m not sure why the editors of the Daily Texts included some, but not much of, verse 12: “training us to renounce impiety.” They could have left it at “salvation to all” or included the rest of verse 12. Still, this works. It reminds us of the proper order of things: grace appears and then impiety is dealt with, never the other way around.

Now that grace is present, we are called to train. Goodness knows there’s no shortage of impiety to deal with, in my life and in yours. Grace pushes it out, but there is life-long training to do as we grow into our redeemed lives. Grace happens on its own through Christ; renouncing impiety takes work. After all, no one would run a marathon without training for it (well, Erika did once; she’s cool like that). In the same way, no one can live a life worthy of God’s calling without working on it. And the more we work, the more we find that it’s grace all the way down.

So, merry Christmas. Or something. Grace is present. Christ is here!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, thank you for the gift of salvation that was born for us in Bethlehem, that died for us on Calvary. Help us cling to this grace during challenging times. Inspire us in our discipleship, that we might be trained to do your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Lyle kids in front of a newly-trimmed Christmas tree, 2019.

From → COVID-19

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