Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. – John 1:3-5
Especially for church nerds like me, the leap from Thanksgiving’s noisy gratitude to Advent’s somber season of expectation can feel abrupt. That’s because our calendars are out of sync. The daily calendar sets New Year after Christmas; the Christian calendar places it four weeks before Christmas. It makes more sense, I think, for Thanksgivingto be the year’s final holiday—a time to count our blessings before the promises of Christmas are newly reborn in us.
It seems right to pause and recall goodness we’ve shared over the previous year before taking on Advent’s challenges, turning our thoughts to this amazing origin story that draws and holds us together all year long. At Gather, we’re grateful for the wide range of beliefs and life experiences and expectations binding us together. That’s a miracle worthy of gratitude all by itself.
It’s only right that we each tell the Jesus story our own way. That’s what the Gospel writers did. Matthew looked at Jesus as a long-awaited king. Luke saw him as miraculously embodied divinity. Mark presents Jesus as God’s chosen child named at baptism. And John relates to Jesus as a cosmic life-giving light that cannot be conquered. They are all correct, and that’s the point. What each of us sees in Jesus is precisely who we need Jesus to be. We gather in thanksgiving and set out to journey together through Advent, seeking light, knowing it will not look or be understood exactly in the same way for everyone. And because this communal journey of unique perspectives is a defining moment, we claim it as a new work in us, a new era in our community, a new year.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” Thanksgiving and Advent enable us to confess our needs and be grateful for goodness and fix our eyes on greater things to come. They’re tied together.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday’s special Advent worship on YouTube at 5pm CST. But most of all, Happy New Year!
With much love,