Why “Amazing Grace” is best suited for Christmas.
This week's reflection is written by
Rev. Richard R. DeLillio, OSFS.
Our Christian life is often described as the people of God on a pilgrimage to meet the Father, our creator. Our journey passes through days of gloomy darkness, astonishing light, rugged mountains, and deep valleys. During our journey, we meet amazing surprises, face challenging dangers, experience multiple crises, and enjoy some peak experiences. Yet we endure and survive them all.
An example of this journey is John Newton, an Anglican clergyman whose amazing odyssey was dramatized in the filmAmazing Grace. Explaining how he did it, Newton related: “My memory is fading, but I remember two things: I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior.”
Newton’s tumultuous journey grew from a cut-throat slave trader to a faith-filled composer of the well-loved hymn, “Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound.” In his hymn he describes the vibrant gift of grace which Jesus’ birth brought to assist us during our earthly pilgrimage.
Newton thinks so highly of grace that he labels it: “The underserved mercy and favor of God to the world.” As Christmas moves ever closer, grateful choirs will sing how God’s grace is Christmas’ most amazing gift:
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
― John Newton, “Amazing Grace”
Like John Newton, all Christ’s followers journey forward with encouragement from the words of this popular hymn. The gift of grace evokes the Holy Spirit, the faithfulness of the Father’s love, and Jesus’ guiding light with each step we take and surrounds us with God’s promise to protect His chosen people. It highlights our compassionate God’s bountiful love for His unpredictable creation often oblivious presence to His grace.
The words of “Amazing Grace” help us understand how our shortcomings invites this promised Savior to be “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Christmas reminds us that we have wandered too long through deserts of our own making unnecessarily cut-off from what brings us a contented and joyful life.
Amazing grace frees us to shout, “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever.” Advent is the season when God responds and announces his generous plan to give us another chance.
Our Father is sending the promised Messiah’s who bears the gift of amazing grace. However, the Messiah comes with one magnificent added difference: this gift is for all who accept him as their Savior. Everyone “lost, wretched, or blind” is now found.
To show our gratitude, our new born Savior asks us to share this gift of grace with all our fellow pilgrims. Salvation comes as an amazing, freely given gift called Grace to God’s people.
Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about. -St. Jane de Chantal