Advent Devotion 12-24-20

Thursday Devotion with Bert Sikkelee

Today's devotion was written by Bert Sikkelee:

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  - Romans 1:1-7

Paul begins his letter to “all God’s beloved in Rome” as he begins almost all of his New Testament letters with words like “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ…who was…designated Son of God in power…by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace….”

“Grace to you and peace….”  Paul uses the word love (agape) 60 times in his genuine New Testament letters; he uses the word grace (unearned love) 50 times.  Both words give, rather than demand, worth.  To me personally, Grace is the most beautiful word in the English language.

To capture the meaning of God’s grace, picture a silhouette of a parent walking with their young child.  The parent is reaching down holding the hand of the child who is reaching up holding the hand of the parent.  Underneath is the caption: “(S)he does not have to earn it; (s)he cannot ever lose it.”  That is grace.

Or as my aunt Katie used to say, “Everyone should have someone who is grandly prejudiced in their favor.” We do.  That is grace.

Or as 20th century theologian Paul Tillich describes it, “Sometimes when we are in great pain…. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying, “You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you….Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.”  That is grace.

Or as my favorite Baptist minister said, when asked to define grace in two words, its “like spring!”  That is grace.  Everything is fresh and new.

In the coming week let us hear afresh, as for the first time, the words of John’s Gospel: “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.”

Prayer: Open my heart and mind and eyes once again, so that I might see your amazing grace.

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