Holiday Grace

I’m pretty sure that the holiday season does something twisted to us. The commercialism of the season seems to undermine my sense of contentment. The turkey coma has not fully worn off before it’s time to battle the crowds searching for the best deals. My time giving thanks for what I have is quickly replaced with a plan for moving on to acquiring more. I set out my most comfortable shoes and breathable clothing as my combat-shopping attire, maximizing my ability to execute my Christmas Shopping Battle Plans. My grace is replaced with a strategy for securing my list of holiday wants.

The irony of our holiday grace

It seems odd that we desire to be around family, to find joy and happiness in others, to buy gifts for loved ones, and genuinely to make others feel good, and yet that whole process can leave us grumpy and angry. In our desire to create the perfect holidays, disappointment triggers our wickedness as we run from one sale to another, hoping to find that one toy, that one scarf, that one gift before they are all gone. 

After we push people out of our way, elbowing our way to the coveted prizes, and snag that last gift off the shelf, we move to the line, and wait. All the while, our patience slowly drains through our feet and flames begin to rise above our heads. We don’t have time for this! There are other gifts to buy, other places to go, other lines to stand in! Why can’t everyone simply MOVE FASTER!

And then we snap. Either mentally or out loud, we make comments to and about people. I’ve personally gotten internally frustrated when credit card machines don’t work. My irritation rises when coupons, cash, gift cards, and credit cards are all used for one transaction slowing the payment process to a crawl! 

When my grace meter is low, anything and everything tips me towards anger and frustration. This season should be filled with grace, hope, patience, and merriment, yet I am at times devoid of any of these. I know its cliché, but there’s value in the question of “what would Jesus say if he witnessed how we chose to celebrate his birth!?” Guess what--he is seeing it! Last I checked God was still fully aware of all we say and do. Whether we speak it or think it, it is known to him!

Fruit of the Holiday Spirit

Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 that the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Which means when we are standing in that line to buy that last Tickle Me Elmo doll, or whatever is the big trend, these fruits must be evident there as well.

We are to model love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control to others, even to the unhelpful sales clerk. Even when others cut in line or take the last decent parking spot, God calls us to live in love and model grace and peace. Even when you feel “hangry” and those Cinnabon smells are wafting in your direction, we still need to model patience and kindness. So how do we do this?

  • We recognize that becoming short-tempered and judgmental with others is an ineffective witness to Christ's love. 
  • We recognize that “losing control” will simply make things worse, but extending grace could bring healing.
  • We breathe in deeply and decide to live into self-control and kindness. After all, will any of this matter in a few years? 
  • We remind ourselves that this season is about Christ Jesus and his great love for us. Our sacrifice of waiting or dealing with someone annoying seems trivial in light of what Christ sacrificed for us.
  • We resolve to show joy and kindness towards others so they might see Jesus in us.

Changing our strategy

Instead of the battle-ready clothing, lets take a page from Paul’s instructions on clothing from Colossians 3:12-17 and simply wrap ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And then on top of these clothes, we throw on that warm jacket of love. When we put on these clothes with intention, we tend to display them too. When we remember to wear a scarf of “compassion” or gloves of “gentleness,” then we’ll display those by actually practicing them too. We will be slower to anger, slower to hangry-ness, quicker with love and peace.

And let’s be honest, when we wear these Godly qualities and attributes, we not only LOOK REALLY GOOD IN THEM, but the whole experience meshes better with the season of grace and God’s expectations of you and me in how we are to live.

About the author — Rev. Kelly Vander Woude

Kelly Vander Woude is always looking for something yummy to put on his smoker…and then getting friends and family to enjoy it with him. When he’s not smoking food he can be found playing and hanging out with his two kids, wife, and their dog, as well as preaching at Immanuel CRC in Fort Collins, CO. Oh…and he’s usually trying to learn some new musical instrument with the hopes of one day mastering at least one of them! You can find more of his writings at

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