Thanksgiving and Advent

by Christine Sine

This last week was a wonderful week of Thanksgiving celebration. Two delightful gatherings with much delicious food, good fellowships and very meaningful sharing of gratitude. Gratitude is a very special practice, and even if you don’t live in a country that has an official thanksgiving celebration I highly recommend a gathering with friends and family to share what you are grateful for.

Now I am getting ready for traditional Advent which starts next Sunday. This week I bring out some of my more traditional Advent symbols and arrange them around my desk. I am tempted to add Christmas symbols too but I realize these are not appropriate for another few weeks. I will also vary the music I play over the few weeks – adhering to Advent the spirit of Advent and only using Advent music, choosing from a number of Advent playlists; to my Celtic Advent playlist I will add Contemplative Advent, especially good, I find when preparing for or participating in an Advent Quiet day Retreat; Advent – Walking in the Darkness – particularly appropriate as we prepare for a Longest Night or Blue Christmas celebration. I also enjoy these Advent Carols from King’s College Choir London. With the increasing commercial hype of Black Friday, now a week and not just a day and the growing pressure to spend more as we move towards Christmas I find this kind of music helps me focus more intentionally on the real meaning of Christmas.

Each year I like to choose a word for each week of Advent. My apologies, I forgot to mention this last week when my word was preparation. This week’s word which I reflect on in my Monday Meditation – Waiting for a Vulnerable God was “vulnerable”. The Advent story in particular brings home to me how frequently God comes to us in vulnerability rather than power, speaking through those at the margins rather than those at the centre. It is reflecting on this God, not the powerful but distant one, that really gives me hope.

My other words for the coming weeks of the Advent season are Stretched, Unexpected, Welcomed, Loved. Some of you may think that these are rather unusual words for the Advent season, but as you realize, I love to approach Advent, Christmas and the whole gospel story in ways that stretch me beyond my comfort zone so that I don’t become complacent and passive in my approach to a life which is meant be motivated by the rebel Jesus.

I loved Ron Friesen’s pondering of The Gift of Hospitality not looking at God’s hospitality through people but rather through nature, especially through birds and where they make their nesting places. Lilly Lewin in Freerange Friday – Invited to Wait, does just that as she invites us to wait through the Advent season reflecting on who and what we hope for in the coming of Christ. On Thursday I contributed this prayer for American Thanksgiving. It began God may we live into the promise of your peace today, with grateful hearts and thankful spirits. Wednesday Lynne Baab reminded us of the difference between Thanksgiving and Optimism. As she said:  “When we focus on the good gifts that are present in our lives, we do not deny the reality of pain, stress and challenges. Thankfulness involves turning our eyes to see good things even in the midst of those difficulties, and we take a moment to thank the giver of the gift.

Don’t forget that our Advent Quiet Day Retreat is coming soon. It is less than 2 weeks away. December 9th will be a great time to pause, rest and refresh yourself as we move towards Christmas Day. We hope you will join us for this important time of renewal. As well as that, if you have not yet accessed them, its time to look at our rich array of Advent and Christmas resources, including Blue Christmas, as well as lots of beautiful poems and prayers by people like Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou and Walter Brueggemann.

Today I wait for a vulnerable God,
My heart longing, yearning, aching
For the fulfillment of God’s promises.
I wait
in hope, in expectation,
Trusting that which is not yet visible.
I will not despise the vulnerability,
Of God and God’s beloved son,
By refusing to believe,
God’s desire is to see all things made new.
I will not deny the wonder of a God,
Who created all things in goodness and delight,
And saw them worthy to be restored and made whole.
I wait,
For in Christ God’s circle is complete.
What began in creation,
Finds its fulfillment in him.
I will not give up hope of the promise
For peace and justice and flourishing
Hidden in a vulnerable child,
Born in a manger.
Love will prevail.
God’s light will shine
All will be made new.

May God richly bless you as you prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

Christine Sine

Photo by Felipe Cespedes on pexels

December 9, An Advent Quiet Day Retreat with Christine Sine.
Join Christine for a virtual retreat celebrating quiet anticipation and focusing on experiencing a meaningful Christmas. She will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season. Register to participate here.

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