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NEW MERCIES THIS CHRISTMAS

When I think about one of the great gifts living on this earth brings, watching a sunrise or sunset is at the tip-top. It’s grand and beautiful and powerful and faithful. A cloud may cover a portion of it but only for a while. And, even so, it is still there- faithfully.

Several years back, after starting a diet (for the 95th time) and falling prey to the donuts that some “angel/devil” brought to an early morning meeting, my beloved friend and sister in Christ, Kelly Hornsby, shared a verse that I was partly familiar with. “Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” I needed that verse at that time, my head held low and my running shorts tighter from my well intended “good eating day” gone very much awry. I’d heard “Great is His faithfulness.” But, never had I heard the remainder of that verse. It shook my spirit up in the most powerful way. God is always faithful in the midst of our faithlessness. And, His compassion, forgiveness and favor for us, all of us, is new every single day.

Those donuts are really a great analogy for things that get into our spiritual way and trip up who and how we really want to be. We can be moving along ever so smoothly and kindly until someone cuts us off on the freeway or smacks their gum or that one temptation we’re always contending with rears its head in the sneakiest of ways, and, as my Sister would say “BAM (well, really, with her Texas accent it’s more like, “BAAAAAYM)” the devil’s got us in a headlock. We failed. We let ourselves down. We hurt someone. We committed some unforgivable act. Yet, we are forgiven. Why? Because, my friends, His mercies are new every darn day. And, because of that, we can lift our heads and start again. We can forgive ourselves because we are forgiven. No matter how jacked up our lives get, God’s still got us. And, if we choose to follow Him, we’ll never be separated from that.

My favorite verse from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise,” reads “just like suns and moons, with the certainty of tides, just like hope springing high, still I rise.” Out of the nighttime sky, the sun rises in complete and total splendor. Yesterday is history. Today, it faithfully brings a new and somewhat familiar gift- an opportunity to rise, ascend and be at one with our Creator because we know that just like suns and moons, He rises in His children through His continual grace and mercy toward us. While it is new and very much the same, GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS. That, my friends, is the sparkliest, most divinely packaged gift of them all. And, we don’t just experience it once a year, under a tree. It’s ours 3-6-5!

At this time of the year, we celebrate the Light of the World who, in fact, entered this world in a time of spiritual darkness. He wasn’t born in some fancy-shmancy palace like an earthly prince might be. Instead, He was born in a trough used to feed livestock. He came into the world humbly and ascended into the heavens just as scripture predicted. Not even death could hold Him. His scripture endures because He remains the light of the world. In all things that are good, we see Him. And, though we are not “all good,” we are His and His compassion, favor, forgiveness and, in one word, mercy, endures in His beloved (that’s you and me) forever.

At times, I find it difficult to show mercy toward someone who has hurt me or someone I love. And, while I know, it’s hard for me, I know that, no matter how deep the offense committed or hurt caused, it’s no task at all for our Savior. He loves us in spite of our humanity, and He is quick to show His mercy. In this season, I hope that, like me, you all will strive to remember this. God is faithful, just like the sun, to all of us, not just a select group of us. His mercies are not just for the small, “smacking gum” kind of offenses, but the big ones, too. This year, I pray that, in receiving that gift, we will also grant ourselves the gift of “new mercies” toward someone that, in our minds, may not deserve it, but would humbly and gratefully receive it. May we all walk and live in his BIG, bright light.

Merry Christmas, my friends! If you do one thing this season, for the love of Jesus, SHINE BRIGHT!

Stay Divine,
JL PARISH

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