by Shirley Brosius
I still remember how my cheeks burned when a high school teacher sent me back down the “up” stairway. You were not allowed to go up the “down” stairway until five minutes after classes started. It was not a full five minutes after class, and law took precedence over grace.
Jesus came to help us find the balance between law and truth and grace. He fulfilled the law by providing the sacrifice God required, and He replaced the legalistic law with the law of love.
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 NKJV).
The truth of Jesus’ time was the law. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for nit-picking the fine points of the law while citing loopholes for themselves. Jesus came to reveal the truth of the law—the nature and the intent of God behind the law. God is love and desires a relationship with us not out of obligation but in response to His love for us.
The coming of Christ set us free from required rituals and animal sacrifices. That was the good news announced by the angel: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10 NKJV).
Three annual festivals appointed by God for the Israelites under the law (see Leviticus 23) offer hints about how we might balance truth and grace at Christmas.
We Celebrate Jesus:
The Festival of Passover included a dinner to celebrate the deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. I celebrate the truth of my deliverance through Jesus by sending cards with a manger scene.
Before we open gifts I read or present from memory the Christmas story from Luke 2. Hearing scripture reminds us that the greatest present of all is God’s Son Jesus.
We Remember Others:
During the Festival of Weeks, the Israelites thanked God for the first crops of wheat. At Christmas I thank God for my prosperity by passing on grace—gifting charities in honor of my grandchildren. I give them cards letting them know I contributed to feeding a family or a missions hospital.
Some people remember others by serving a Christmas meal to the needy or inviting a lonely person to dinner.
We Embrace Family:
Also called the Festival of Tabernacles, the Israelites celebrated the Festival of Ingathering by building huts to commemorate the shelters built during 40 years in the wilderness. Imagine the fun and fellowship a family enjoyed as they “camped out” for seven days.
We enjoy that kind of togetherness as we decorate the Christmas tree. Last year a granddaughter came and helped me decorate our home.
The law gave us God’s standards for morality, but we humans could never perfectly keep that law. In Jesus we see that morality, but we also glimpse God’s heart filled with compassion and love for us, a heart that reconciles law with love, truth and grace.
All teachers struggle balancing truth and grace. Rules are rules and must be not be broken. But some students come to school broken and need special grace, stable relationships they can trust. Loving teachers temper the truth of classroom rules with grace.
We may shun commercialism, but we can embrace the opportunity to share the truth and grace of Christ with those we love. Let’s find fresh ways to remind others that Christ is at the center of our Christmas celebration.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius wrote Sisterhood of Faith and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She is a member of the speaking team Friends of the Heart (www.friendsoftheheart.us). Last Christmas, Shirley wrote “Bouquets for My Grandchildren,” a 30-page devotional booklet sharing snippets of life and photos of her flowerbed with her five grandchildren.
Join the conversation: What parts of the Old Testament inspire you to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas?