It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving will be this week; I can’t comprehend how the days are flying by so fast. And then preparations for Christmas start. That is always a very busy, stressful time because my family living here go for a long visit to our family in Texas. All our holiday prep work has to be done by the second week of December because we’re on the road shortly after. That makes for a very frenzied time. Every year I dream of having a calm, relaxing holiday with time to savor everything. But it’s always a struggle to achieve that. I end up exhausted and then it’s over – and I think that’s pretty typical of everyone. Recently I’ve been trying to change the way I approach the season and remember that the reasons why we celebrate aren’t connected to our circumstances. At Thanksgiving, we rejoice in God’s provision for us and at Christmas we recall anew His presence. These are realities that inform our attitudes towards life and they can be clung to regardless of whether the times are busy or quiet.
Last week my mom and I went on a weekend trip to Cincinnati and on Sunday morning we worshiped at Glendale’s Christ’s Church. We’ve been deeply blessed every time we’ve visited and I do view it now as my second church home. During the sermon, the rector introduced this period of time leading to Advent as a sort of transition. He said that the lessons (or Scripture readings that guide the service) were unusual and often filled with tension and this was an intentional reflection of building into Advent. He talked about how celebrating Advent remembers the coming of Christ the child, but also looks forward to the second coming of Christ as Conqueror. This “already, but not yet” reality is mirrored in our own lives and world as well. We have tasted of the goodness and provision of God, and evidences of His care for us are all around, but at the same time we recognize that His kingdom of justice and righteousness has not yet fully come. We live in that in-between tension of “already in our hearts, but not yet in the world” and this is the dimension in which we are called to live out the gospel of grace in a hurting world.
The sermon ended with the encouragement that although the world tries to divide us into infinite factions, Christ unites us together in Him. Sin separates us from God and from each other, setting us against our neighbors, but Christ draws us near and fills our hearts with His love and desire for reconciliation. We were encouraged to present Christ to our world and to allow His grace to transform our hearts and overflow to those around us. I had been thinking of what to blog about for Thanksgiving week and this sermon decided it for me. So for this week, I will be sharing various aspects of Christ’s character as described from His words and interactions recorded in Scripture. It’s my hope that focusing on Christ and what He offers us will fill our hearts with hope, joy, and thankfulness – not only for Thanksgiving, but for the days to come.
Blessings to you,