Wednesday we buried former President George Herbert Walker Bush, and if we are honest, there is a palpable sense of grief that occurs for a nation when a leader passes, a singular grief that transcends partisan bitterness. I could go on at length about the dignity of the funeral. There were the predictable antics, the preening, the steely gazes, and we could contrast that with graciousness, warmth, and affection that came from surprising sources. But at the end of the day, the most powerful picture for me was the grief of a man who had lost his dad. That would be W. I thought as well of the sight of him pushing his dad in a wheelchair at the funeral of Barbara Bush, and I remembered that for a moment, they were simply men who were grappling with the loss of a formidable woman who had affected them both in the most profound manner.
As touching as was George W’s eulogy for George H.W., I think that for a while, W. will seem to me like a little guy that is broken-hearted, and as far as I am concerned, that is just fine. He, his family, friends, and loved ones are going to need an extra measure of a largely misunderstood gift that is called grace. They, and we, will need it more this holiday. The Bushes have lost a mom and dad who wore a number of hats, and that just a few months apart from each other. This will be their first Christmas without their patriarch and matriarch. Irrespective of what your political party is, today they are a bereaved family. Be a giver of grace. Recently, my husband Steve gave our family a gift of grace in the form of a micro-mini-sermon on the subject of grace. It changed my life and gave me a level of comfort that I want to pass on to you. It is written in his no-frills, practical, over-the-road-truck-driver style; something I have loved for nearly a quarter of a century.
“Grace. Do you pray for grace? I didn’t. I used to have grace on the shelf with mercy, because they go together like salt and pepper. Mercy and grace, right? They “kinda sorta” mean the same thing, right? Beep, wrong answer. Thank you for playing. I was wrong.
Merriam Webster’s first definition is: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. Whoa! I don’t have to completely pull myself up by my own bootstraps? Pray for grace, my friends -- for yourselves, your family, and friends. Do a word search on its usage in the Bible, and you will find that it was important enough for Paul to include in both the greeting and the benediction in most of his epistles. It is a tool that has been left out of our toolboxes for too long. Mercy is forgiveness without having made a change. Grace is unmerited help in making the change.”
May we as individuals and as a nation ask for amazing grace to “find help in a time of need,” and may that grace bring about great growth in the days ahead.