Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Eve, Year A

Inspired by Titus 2:11-14

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly.”  Titus 2:11-12 (NRSV)

Piety.  Worldly.  Self-control.  Upright.  Godly.  These words are thrown about by Christians trying to live according to their faith.  In their fervent desire to live lives worthy of the gospel, they strive to be pious, self-controlled, upright, and godly, while trying to avoid impiety and worldly passions.  Unfortunately, there is no universal agreement on what any of these words mean in relation to gospel living.

Instead we make our best guesses at what they mean, and then try to compel others to live according to our definitions.  The result is legalism, division, accusation, and condemnation, none of which reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rather than focus on the details of our response, why not focus on what it is we’re responding to?  The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.  God has already brought his grace and salvation to everyone—not because of our pious behavior, but in order to inspire it.  And how are we to respond to that grace?  By remembering that Jesus gave himself for us that he might redeem us, and following that example.  We’re not called to compel others to behave according to our definitions; we’re called to give ourselves for others.  How we do that is dependent upon our individual gifts and circumstances, and no single definition can cover all eventualities.  Only grace can do that, and grace is what we’ve received from God and what we’re called to proclaim.

Let us pray.  God of grace, you saved us not because we deserved it, but because you love us.  Enable us to proclaim your grace with our words and actions, that all may come to know your salvation.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.