In the November issue of “The Pastor’s Life,” a new publication via email from the Presbyterian Foundation, there was a quote from Karl Barth regarding the relationship between God’s grace and our gratitude to God for God’s grace. Barth said, “Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice of an echo. Gratitude follows grace like thunder lightning….We are speaking of the grace of God who is God for man, and of the gratitude of man as his response to this grace…. The two belong together, so that only gratitude can correspond to grace, and this correspondence cannot fail.”
Of course the Presbyterian Foundation’s reason for using this quote is to place the theological premise that stewardship is a way of life, not four Sundays in November. In thanksgiving for all we have, indeed our very being, Graciousness is that image we are created in. We are born to give God’s gifts to us in like kind to each other and to all God’s creation.
Recent days have unfolded terrible trauma within our country that in some ways have shut us down, as those innocents and their families are buried in their grief as they attend the funerals of those they love. We have no answers and we shy away from feeling anything too deep, even the hope, peace, joy and love of Advent seem to be just words in our liturgies.
But let us not forget that these words are the gifts that God gives us over and over in order that we may remember the coming of the Christ child. The child who came in a horrible time of murder and violence perpetrated by a crazed king. God entered our humanity in a time of great darkness with the light of the world; the hope, peace, joy and love of our Savior. That gift of grace is the light that shines still, even today!
It was given in the midst of the darkness that first Christmas. Barth is right; our corresponding gifts, given even in darkness, cannot fail!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Merry Christmas!