Dear Church family,
I don’t know about you, but as we make final preparations for Thanksgiving tomorrow I am keenly aware of living in the midst of two seasons. One season, the season of gratitude, finds its culmination tomorrow as we gather around a table of some sort, to celebrate Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving also seems to naturally flow right across the weekend time line into Advent and Christmas.
In Charles Dicken’s classic tale A Christmas Carol, we find a description of the Cratchit family as they celebrate Christmas. Dickens writes, “There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being waterproof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker’s. But they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time…”
As we approach Thanksgiving, I pray that we would find ourselves, no matter what our circumstances, to be “happy, grateful, pleased with one another and contented with the time.”
I realize this is not always easy. Some of us face challenges as we gather around our tables this season. For some, there will be empty chairs. For others, unwelcome news occupies our minds, or unresolved challenges that are unsettling. Thanksgiving doesn’t make those challenges go away. And yet, there is something about gratitude and giving thanks that can ease their power over us. Giving thanks has a way of centering us in all that is good, and right and blessed in our lives. Dicken’s cast the Cratchit family as people that understood this truth. That is what the Apostle Paul understood as he wrote to the Philippians, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication ‘with thanksgiving’ let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8) There is always something worthy of praise in our lives, and I pray we would experience the grace of God to be able to see those gifts and celebrate them.
Have a blessed and gratitude filled day tomorrow, and I pray that as we move into the season of Advent we will do so with grateful hearts and with a sense of joy-filled anticipation for what God has in store for us as we prepare for the coming of the light that is Christ and allow that light to transform our lives once again.
Your pastor & brother,