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Outrageous Grace

by Meg

I stood in the still cluttered kitchen, holding the sparkler. I said to myself, I am standing here holding and watching this sparkler because it is reminding me to be in the moment, to celebrate God's unexpected gifts of joy in the midst of sadness and dullness. And I am doing this because these sparklers ended up here in my kitchen because of my daughters, my lovely daughters who are far away for Christmas on the other side of the world. I am cleaning my kitchen for the church choir party, and, in the midst of this chosen drudgery, I am celebrating all that life has given me.

I had lit the sparkler thinking it was a joss stick that the girls had put on that shelf, and I thought I would check its scent and see if it would add to the Christmas atmosphere I was creating for the party. Everything was deliberate and planned, necessitated by organizing it by myself, after years of spontaneous Christmas happenings energized by twenty years of family milling around, pulling me into the moment. Now the unexpected sparkler pulled me into a moment of reflection, wonder and celebration again. Outrageous in a way, to my Martha style preparations.

Isn't that just like God?, I thought again to myself. We are caught up in the daily grind, the tasks, big or small, that fill our days. We are also caught up in the troubles of others, and our own. They weigh us down, and the feelings around them add on tons. We look for alleviation, for special grace to pull us into a new space of joy. I had depended on that for many years, I realized a few weeks ago. Now this Christmas I would recognize more by absence than presence of chosen vessels of grace, beautiful creatures from my own womb, for whom I had chosen to make a dream that wouldn't include me. Ah yes, that choice sparkles in my heart again. Yes, that gives me joy, that freely made choice, that freely given gift.

I check my emails, finding out more news about others' trials and joys. More untimely deaths and illnesses. I phone my friend who struggles with depression and share words of hope and encouragement. I pray through my list, mindful that the number of those with cancer has increased. I sit with a neighbour during her chemo treatment, finding appropriate topics of conversation, reflecting on the apparent smallness of my trial compared with hers. We go to a Christmas party with lots of dancing. The best dancer and most beautifully dressed person is another friend who is still not sure of the status of her own body after two surgeries and multiple treatments for cancer. It was only seven months ago that I was praying for her, thinking she was dying. Here she is glittering and wigged, the life of the party, delighting her husband and family and friends.

The choir director phones me to thank me for giving them such a wonderful time. Our 100 year old always-in-the-family piano had thrilled to an excellent touch the night before as our choir brought our joy and skill into renditions sublime and ridiculous of Christmas music. Outrageous gifts of joy in the midst of a town submerged under snow only the week before, the party cancelled first time around. Now, delay had brought more joy, more celebration.

The words of a much loved song came to mind:

There's a lot of pain,
But a lot more healing;
There's a lot of trouble,
But a lot more peace.
There's a lot of hate,
But a lot more loving;
There's a lot of sin,
But a lot more grace.

Oh Outrageous Grace!
Oh Outrageous Grace!
Love unfurled by Heaven's hand
Oh Outrageous Grace!
Oh Outrageous Grace!
Through my Jesus I can stand.

There's a lot of fear,
But a lot more freedom;
There's a lot of darkness,
But a lot more light.
There's a lot of cloud,
But a lot more vision;
There's a lot of perishing,
But a lot more Life!


There's an enemy
That seeks to kill what it can't control.
It twists and turns
Making mountains out of molehills.
But I will call on the Lord
Who is worthy of praise;
I run to Him and I am saved!

Godfrey Birtill
Copyright 2000
Thankyou Music/PRS


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