Reflections on Advent and Thanksgiving

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.Advent is one of my favorite times of year because it is a time of expectancy (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV),

As a child, I loved Christmas. I loved it because of  the anticipation of what I might receive. Every activity surrounding the holiday pointed me to what was to come. The decorations, Christmas lights, stockings, tinsel, and smells of cookies all helped to remind and direct my thoughts to the gifts I would receive.  I can still strongly remember and feel many of those same emotions. However, now during this season I am more focused on Christ than receiving gifts. This is one of the reasons I am grateful that Advent follows Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is like an appetizer for Advent. At Thanksgiving, we spend time actively reflecting on what Jesus has done for us in the past year. Advent is a time to celebrate the coming of Jesus. Thankfulness is the perfect soil for expectancy. Jesus is the greatest gift. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father. Receiving the greatest gift should be linked to the greatest amount of anticipation.

We celebrate the gifts Jesus gives us. One extraordinary gift God bestows on us is adoption. God creates a new family of brothers and sisters. Our new identity binds us together and gives us one more reason to rejoice. This new family is not a perfect family, but a broken one. Yet, even in our sin and failure we find a common bond. It isn't just ideology that unites us. Our brokenness is what leads us to  acknowledge our need for Jesus. In the book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about the hope Christians have together, “ The fellowship of the table teaches Christians that here they still eat the perishable bread of the earthly pilgrimage. But if they share this bread with one another, they shall also one day receive the imperishable bread together in the Father’s house. ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 14.15).” Being in fellowship with one another helps us to see how we can love Jesus more. Our common need leads us to common thankfulness where we acknowledge and celebrate Christ as our common Savior.

Through celebrating Advent together we prepare our hearts to worship the True King. As we celebrate traditions new and old we establish memories and practices our families will remember their entire life. The hope is they will pass some of the traditions on to their family. My best hope is that my kids will remember Advent is a time to celebrate Jesus. He is why we gather together, eat great food, and give presents. Every good and perfect gift is from Him. He is our ultimate gift, our great treasure, and One who is worthy of our expectation!