Grace is a challenging thing indeed. It demands far more from us than mercy. A merciful person helps a brother or sister in need or refuses to impose punishment when punishment is warranted. Grace is something else. Grace demands that, in imitation of our Savior, we go beyond mercy and affirmatively bless a person above and beyond anything his or her behavior deserves.
Mercy at the Thanksgiving table means not dropping the hammer on a condescending Millennial niece. Grace means striving to find a way to help make her Thanksgiving more meaningful and enjoyable — by treating her with kindness and taking a genuine interest in her life, especially her life outside her talking points.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that grace always leads to reconciliation or joyful family holidays. After all, if the world rejected — and even executed — the perfect expression of grace, how can we expect our own acts of grace to be well-received? But if we’re reaching the point where we’re urging people to use family gatherings as political platforms, we’ve lost our way.