As Christians, Thanksgiving ought to propel us toward Christmas. When we pause to reflect on all the good in our lives, we – as Christians – remember that God is the author of every good and perfect gift. As we prepare to express our love to family and friends, often through the exchanging of gifts, we — as Christians — remember that Christmas is ultimately about more than our petty (or extravagant) gift-giving. Christmas is about the greatest gift ever given: unwrapped in the incarnation.
So how might we, as Christians, make the most of the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas? The retailers hope you’ll do a lot of shopping. The grocery stores hope you’ll do a lot of eating. Hallmark hopes you’ll make long lists of people to whom you want to send greeting cards. I’m sure that many of you, like me, will do your fair share of all of that. But is that all? Is that enough?
There are people who ought to feel thankful that don’t. Wouldn’t it be great if God could touch their heart this year? Wouldn’t it be marvelous if God could open their eyes this year?
There are people who do feel thankful but have no one to whom they can ultimately express that thanks. What if God were able, somehow, to make Himself known to them this year? What if they could suddenly see what they’d never recognized before?
What if … ?
One way some churches have sought to answer my question – how might we, as Christians, make the most of the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas – has been to observe, for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, the season of Advent.
I’m always curious to learn how Christians and the Church are perceived (understood or misunderstood) by the world around us; so I decided to look up “Advent” in Wikipedia, and their explanation isn’t bad. Advent, according to Wikipedia, is “a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus; in other words, the period immediately before Christmas.”
So here’s my issue. We come into Christmas as Easter people! We know about the gift. So, rather than approaching Christmas with an “expectant waiting” akin to that of children who do not know what gift they’ll receive, might we — instead — approach Christmas like parents who know what gift awaits each child and whose “expectant waiting” wonders only how that gift will be received?
Around us every day are people who have never received THE gift of Christmas. We know what awaits them: the greatest gift … ever! But still, they wait.
There’s a song by Chris Tomlin that echoes this sentiment.
The verses of the song proclaim:
A refuge for the poor, a shelter from the storm …This is our God
He will wipe away your tears and return your wasted years … This is our God
A father to the orphan, a healer to the broken … This is our God
And he brings peace to our madness and comfort in our sadness … This is our God
A fountain for the thirsty, a lover for the lonely … This is our God
He brings glory to the humble and crowns for the faithful … This is our God
And the chorus affirms:
This is the one we have waited for
This is the one we have waited for
This is the one we have waited for ... This is our God
Perhaps if they heard us sing this song – speak it with our lips, live it with all our strength – they could learn the words and catch the tune … and sing it with us.
That’s what I want for Christmas! How about you? Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Dan has been the Pastor of Salem UMC since June, 2017. He loves preaching, the Atlanta Braves, beach vacations, and precious time with his wife Brenda and their grown sons. Read More . . .