What is grace and how do Christians celebrate it for three whole months? Today AMBrewster unwraps the winter holidays and explains the glorious grace of God.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a family resource from Truth.Love.Parent., a ministry dedicated to rooting families in God and maturing families for God so they can harvest blessings from God.
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If Mercy were on one side of a coin, the other side would be Grace.
If Mercy is not giving someone the consequence they rightly deserve, then Grace is giving that same person something wonderful they do not deserve.
Let me give a real-life example from my days at Victory Academy.
There was once an unsaved boy who earned himself a good number of laps around the gravel track due to some very poor choices.
The young man was having a difficult time finishing his laps, and though it would have been entirely appropriate for the Residence Assistant to have him run his laps regardless of how long it took him, the Residence Assistant invited him to sit down beside the track. He then explained in beautiful simplicity the mercy and grace of God and perfectly compared it to the boys situation. He explained that the boy had sinned and earned consequences. But then he explained how God loved His creation so much that Jesus Christ came into this world to be our substitute. At that moment, the Residence Assistant asked the boy if he could run the rest of the boys laps for him.
Of course, the boy was more than happy have someone else run them for him . . . so the RA finished running the laps.
When he got back to the boy, he explained what grace was, and told the boy that not only does the Lord desire to remove death, He also promises to give life.
The RA told the boy that even though he didn’t deserve it, he was going to treat the boy to lunch the following day.
Now, there’s so much more to the story. Of course, the Residence Assistant didn’t want the boy accepting some diluted, easy-believism that says you can have your sin and the Savior. Who wouldn’t want to gain a supernatural insurance policy — a fire escape, as it were — without having to dethrone the god of self? But Romans 10:9 calls us to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe that in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead in order to be saved.
But the beautiful thing about choosing to follow Christ — about submitting to Him as your Savior and King — is that He is merciful and gracious. He doesn’t give us the death we deserve, and He gives us life, His Word, the Holy Spirit, and He keeps all of His promises . . . not because we’re deserving, but because He’s good.
So, the Season of Mercy recognizes that God created all things, but mankind chose to sin. Because of that pain and death and sadness and fear entered our existence. But God mercifully protects us from the slavery that comes from being our own puny little gods.
And then the Season of Grace — what most people call winter — celebrates the glorious grace that is the Father’s love wherein He chose to send His Son to this earth to be our substitute, if only we choose to believe Him and submit to Him.
So, the Season of Grace celebrates Christ’s first coming, it looks forward to His second coming, and it rejoices in God’s infinite love.
Now, technically there are only three main holidays spanning December through February, but they are miraculous and glorious indeed.
The first is one that I did not fully start to appreciate until about 4 or 5 years ago. It’s called Advent.
Advent starts the 4th Sunday before Christmas and runs all the way through Christmas Eve.
It’s a glorious time to Anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, but it’s also designed to Anticipate His future second coming. And . . . it lasts a full month!
What I love about the length of time associated with various holidays in the Celebration of God is that we celebrate longer for the big acts of love.
We celebrate many things over the course of a day, but we celebrate the Creation of the universe for a week. How much more should we celebrate Christ’s first coming, His death and resurrection, and His second coming?
I look forward to talking more about the full month dedicated to Advent, but I believe some of you may be confused about the fact that we only celebrate the Incarnation on one day.
Well, I don’t think that’s enough.
In my family, we include part of Advent in the celebration of Christmas, but we also like to celebrate Christmas for the full 12 Days of Christmas.
Now, again, allow me to remind you that we do not celebrate saints like the Catholics do. My family’s version of the 12 days of Christmas is very different, but it’s perfect for helping my kids realize that the gift of Jesus Christ is so amazing, we couldn’t possibly squeeze a legitimate celebration into just one day.
So, I too am excited about giving your family some ideas about how to make your family’s Christmas celebration more . . . more in time, but — more important — more in significance.
So, that takes us into the New Year.
And, yes, The Celebration of God observes the New Year and redeems the celebration because only God can make all things new, but we also realize that different nationalities celebrate their new years on different days. This first year, we’re going to talk about a Christ-celebrating New Year in December, but in the future we’re going to move it around a little in order to appreciate the New Year observances of other cultures to see if we can learn anything from them. Will the American New Year still be on January 1st . . . or course, and if you’re American, you should celebrate it on that day, but we can celebrate the newness God offers any and every day of the year.
And then, I look forward to taking some time in January and February preparing for Valentines and the beginning of the biggest celebration of the year . . . Easter!
Now, some of you may wonder why we would make a big deal out of Valentines. Everyone knows it’s a commercialized excuse to sell valentines and candy and that the only “holiday” more pretentious than Valentines is “Sweetest Day,” but — just like Halloween, I believe there is so much biblical truth to talk about.
I John 4:16, “God is love.”
Love cannot exist without God. All true love is God’s love worked out through us. If we’re going to teach our children or students, if we’re going to discuss God’s love with our colleagues and friends, if we’re going to preach about love, then February 14th is just as good a time as any.
A few nights ago my family and I watched a movie that — among other things — highlighted the relationship between two wives and their husbands. It was sweet, it was filled with humorous foibles, but was it really love? Afterward my daughter and I had a little bedtime chat about how she defines love, how she imagines a successful marriage. God forbid that Valentine’s Day come and go and I don’t discuss with her what God really means when He talks of this glorious universe-altering thing called love.
How dare we allow candy companies and secular entertainers to fill our the church’s head concerning the meaning and behavior of love.
No, I think the month of February is an especially important time to continue the celebration of God’s infinite love.
And just as that discussion beautifully looks back to Creation and the gift of Jesus Christ, it also looks forward to the Resurrection and the future kingdom of our great God.
Remember, that’s an important facet of The Celebration of God . . . all of the holidays look backward and forward. If one of the holidays are touched, all the others should quiver. Creation Week should get me excited about Christmas which should prepare me for Easter and the Church and Families and God’s gracious gift of His Word . . . and all of that is His mercy and grace and love.
That, my friends, is a brief overview of the Season of Grace.
Once again, I pray you’re getting more and more excited about truly turning your mind heavenward as we walk through this Year Long Celebration of Yahweh. And I hope you’re anticipating whom you can invite along for the ride.
Please join us next time for an introduction to The Season of Life.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.