Grace be with you all. –Hebrews 13:25
“Grace” is my focus word for 2017. I’ve heard so many definitions of the word, but struggle with accepting all it encompasses. I want to take a year to mull over it, remove the theology and concentrate purely on the love it embodies. My prayer is that I will be able to give it more freely and receive it more gratefully.
While praying for my 2017 word, I found myself questioning grace on a recent trip in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. My husband’s Grandmother passed away, so my family found ourselves car bound in route from Northwest Arkansas to West Texas. My husband and I chatted about grace and our family’s word “Fellowship”, on the car ride down.
Upon arrival we were greeted with the warm hugs from family and warm meals from their community. There was lots of warmth and comfort throughout our stay in Texas. The little Southern Baptist church where the funeral was held served us a meal, as well (Fried Chicken and the most amazing sheet cake with a vanilla-almond icing). The members shared stories of Grandma and seemed genuinely glad to host us.
Funerals aren’t “fun events”. Even though we knew Grandma was preparing for death and were not surprised when she passed, we shuffled around nervously when we walked into the church for her service. The service consisted of hymns, the reading of her eulogy, scripture reading and a sermon. When it came time for the scripture reading, my husband stood up to read Psalm 23 and John 14:1-4. His voice trembled when he read; he stopped to regroup at one point. I saw tear drops well up in his mom’s eyes and could feel a sudden sorrow in the people around me.
Then it happened. Grace. Within an intense moment of sadness, the sound of a loved one’s baby broke the silence of sorrow as if to announce to us all that as death brings grief, new birth brings joy. The baby was the reminder of gracious gifts of life. It wasn’t a complicated gift. Just the simple sounds of baby gurgles accompanied with the calming sound of a mom trying to quiet her. However, it was a powerful illustration of life continuing forward.
Driving back to Northwest Arkansas, I kept thinking about the little baby. So sweet, so innocent, totally unaware of her surroundings in the church, but so comforted within the arms of her mother. Since it was just a couple of days after Christmas, I thought about Christ swaddled within the arms of Mary. Such a sweet innocent little child, baby sounds and all with so much to give the world. Grace.