Giving thanks through advent
By Rev. Randall Shepard
The Christmas season is my favorite time of the year, which is why Thanksgiving in my favorite holiday. I know that does not make a lot of sense, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a few reasons. One, I love to eat, watch football, and hang out with family. It is also the start of the Christmas season. I mean, you get to watch Santa arrive on TV!
Yet, Thanksgiving Day is not about any of those things, Thanksgiving Day is a day set aside to give thanks to God for all the blessings He has given us throughout the year. God gives us so much. Everything we have comes from God. Even though we work very hard to pay for our house, our car, and the food we eat, we would have nothing without God. Of course, the greatest gift God has ever given us is the Christ Child.
The Christ Child is what the Christmas season is all about. Yes, Christmas is a season. December 25th is the first day of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, and January 6th is the last day of Christmas, or the Epiphany, when we celebrate the wise men coming to worship the Christ Child. So, the Christmas season does not really start until Christmas Day. Yet, for most Americans, the Christmas season starts the day after Christmas.
The Church has a different name for the season between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For the Church, the four weeks leading up to Christmas is called the season of Advent. Advent is indeed the season of preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, but it is also a season to remind ourselves that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has promised to come back. So, in a sense the Church has been in a season of Advent since Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father in Acts 1.
The entire season of Advent is a time to give thanks for the Christ Child. It is a time to practice the words of Psalm 100:4 in which is psalmist wrote “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless his name.” Through the Christ Child, God has given us His hope, His peace, His love, and His Joy. Advent is a time that we give thanks to the Father for the gift of His child, and the gifts of hope, peace, love, and joy. Advent is a time to enter into the presence of God, and offer up our gratitude for the Christ Child, our Emmanuel, who is and will forever be God with us!
So, as you begin to think about all you need to do to prepare for the celebration of Christmas, take some time to give thanks for the Christ Child. Ask God to use this season of Advent to help you put the Christ Child where He belongs; on the throne of your heart.
There is NOTHING wrong with decorating your house, buying presents, going to parties, and/or doing all the other things that go along with this season as long as in your heart you are celebrating and worshiping the Christ Child. Place the Christ Child in the middle of all of you holiday activities this year. Remember the word “holiday” comes from two words: holy and day.
Make this advent season a holy season in which you give thanks for the Christ Child and the hope, peace, joy and love that He brings to our lives! This truly is the most wonderful time of the year! May you find the miracle of the Christ Child in all that you do!