I just love when my kids teach me about grace.
My 6-years-old son, Simon, is quite a friendly fellow. He needs his family close by but if we are close, his courage is unstoppable.
Every Thursday, our church hosts a community dinner here in Victoria. My husband, who is also the minister, serves as chef, equipping his trusty team of sous-chefs to get the job done, and to produce what is truly an incredible meal each week—full of protein and vegetables, not just a pasta meal that is cheaper and easier to prep, but a full meal! There is no cost to the participants, just put a few bucks in if you can.
Usually, about forty of us gather and sit down to dinner together—kids, seniors, and those of us in the middle. We are church goers, community folk, some who live alone, and others who live with a partner or with a child. Some are in need of an extra meal that does not cost, and others are families, even those who don’t attend our church, who just love having a meal in-between hockey practice and piano lessons. We reflect a vast range of socioeconomic levels and needs. We meet the needs of different schedules. We provide fellowship.
It is at these events that I love watching Simon greet. There have been times when he literally waits at the door for a few of his favourite ‘friends.’ Once they arrive, he gets into line with them. One night, I was sitting with Simon and three middle-aged men, all of whom had seen the rougher side of life and still were experiencing challenges. We were chatting about Simon’s latest superhero and about soccer. It was here that I was taught more about grace, acceptance, and love by my Simon.
My first lesson was through his interactions with “New Jim” and “Church Jim.” Simon got a smirk on his face when “New Jim” introduced himself to us at the table. Simon’s face lit up and he jumped off his chair and ran over to another Jim, who I will call “Church Jim.” Simon knows “Church Jim” because he is a regular attendee at our church. “Church Jim’ is a wonderful man, a pillar of the church and always dressed so well, bowtie and all. Simon brought “Church Jim” by the hand over to meet “New Jim.” It was obvious that they would not necessarily move in the same circles. But, they did move in Simon’s circle. Simon introduced them: “Jim, meet Jim. Jim, meet Jim.” And then he laughed! Simon thought that was the funniest thing ever. Simon proceeded to ask “Church Jim” to please sit with us to eat dinner. There was really no choice in the matter.
When dessert was served, Al, another man at the table, had Simon on his knee. Simon had a popsicle. As I looked over, Simon offered Al a taste of his popsicle. The strawberry popsicle came close to the scruffy beard, which was hiding lots of the days activities, and I almost lashed out to grab it. Al smiled and backed his face away and said, “No thanks.” to which I murmured, “Thanks.”
I love Simon’s personality that invites, embraces, shares popsicles, and says, “You are welcome here. No matter who you are, no matter what you wear, if you want to be present with me, I want to make you laugh.” I love his pure grace of character, grace of being, grace of equality, and grace of community.
Grace can appear in so many forms. It is so hard sometimes to be aware of the ways my kids can teach me when I am so busy getting them fed and watered, taught and taxied, rested and involved. I literally cannot keep up some days, working full-time, and trying to keep their needs first. Then, I see Christ in them and I say, “Thanks.”