At our house we go through a little ritual, every year it seems, usually a few weeks before Christmas. It goes something like this:
What do you want for Christmas?
Oh, I don’t know . . . what did you get me last Christmas?
Hmmm. Good question . . . what did you get for me?
Usually, we are eventually able to come up with answers. But the truth is, we forget things. And not just last year’s Christmas gifts. We forget so much in the course of a year, even those things that seem unforgettable in the moment and sometimes even those things we know to be true.
One thing I regularly forget in this category is God’s grace. I tend to allow the negative things of life to create the impression that God is not particularly concerned with me or my well being. I would never say that, of course. I know God promises His grace will be sufficient. But when life is disappointing or exhausting or sad or heavy–which it often seems to be during the course of the year–I generally forget the promise, and live as if God’s grace may not be sufficient, after all.
Keeping the Cross of Christ in mind is critical toward remembering God’s continuous grace (good intention) toward me. The Cross declares the truth of God’s steadfast love for me. “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
At Christmas we celebrate God’s gift of His Son, Jesus. It is a gift which encompasses both the Manger and the Cross. But it is gift we are likely to forget again until next Christmas, unless we keep it in front of us. We have begun celebrating weekly Communion–also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist (Thanksgiving Feast)–in order to do just that–to keep God’s gift always in view.
This is my body, which is broken for you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
These are the words that Jesus gave to His disciples the night before He went to the cross. The first Eucharist was, in a sense, the filter through which He wanted them to view the terrible event of the crucifixion. He wanted them to understand that God’s grace toward them was at work even in the brutality of what lay ahead.
May the Eucharist be our filter in the coming year, as well, reminding us each week that God’s amazing grace toward us is the underlying theme of the life of His children, come what may!