Last week I was a little startled to hear a pastor (not ours by the way) tell some of his parishioners they had to lie in the beds they had made for themselves. Actually I was very startled. I wonder from where in the Bible he was drawing this? If God worked on the principle of making us lie on the beds of our own making there would be no story of grace. And no story of salvation. No Christmas as we understand and celebrate it. We make a bed of nails for ourselves – daily. That is true. But God does not insist we lie down here. Rather he invites us, in the poetic and symbolic language of the psalms, to lie down in green pastures. Actually he doesn’t invite us. He compels us. He makes us lie down, not in the beds of glass and nails that we make for ourselves but in places of quiet and refreshment of His making. Sure, we don’t deserve this respite and forgiveness. But isn’t that what grace is all about? It sure is. Counselling “lie in your own bed” is to promote a heartless philosophy grounded in the idea that we are self made people. That God measures our worth against what we do for ourselves. That we deserve the consequences of our decisions. But if we are made in the image of someone else and are the recipients of his grace, that counselling is about as out of step with the Bible, the nature of God and the work of Jesus as anything I can imagine. That pastor shouldn’t be surprised that his lack of compassion (and understanding of what grace is all about) has resulted in a disgruntled group of parishioners. Telling others there is no other way except to cop the consequences of your actions when you purport to be the recipient of something else is one way to not unreasonably have folk walk away from you.
I am daily grateful that my bed is feather down even though it’s not my own, it’s a gift. And I am especially reminded of that each Christmas. Merry Christmas. Embrace the gift. And then live like you have received it – with compassion, gratefulness and grace.