In this week’s Thanksgiving edition of our weekly newsletter, Scott reflects on gratitude in a difficult year–and how we can all be grateful for the coming season of Advent.
Dear friends in Christ,
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Most years, I’m ready to set aside my usual frenetic pace to pause in gratitude for all the blessings of this life. I know that’s the right thing to do, but it’s going to be harder for me and many others this year.
As I think about the lavish feasts that will be held across our nation, I can’t help but think of all those who don’t have enough. Many of my friends are afraid in new ways this year–afraid of violent attacks or afraid of being deported. These are not idle worries. Churches have been defaced with Nazi symbols, and the public has not exactly rushed to the aid of those at the margins. Who am I to give thanks from my comfortable perch?
And yet, as I look at Christian history, it is in the midst of difficult times that God’s presence is necessary and empowering. I’m not saying that comfortable people should sit back and watch the vulnerable suffer. Quite the opposite. God calls us to testify of God’s love, to join the most vulnerable people and stand with them, to calm their fears.
Gratitude will be different for me this year, and maybe for you, too. I’m grateful for God’s presence in my life and in the world. And I’m especially grateful for the coming season of Advent. Lord knows, we need a season to focus on preparing our hearts for Jesus and for proclaiming the kingdom of God’s mercy, grace, righteousness, and justice.
Are you afraid? Are you grateful? Maybe both? Let us pray.
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
As we turn toward Advent to prepare to worship Jesus Christ in the throne of his manger, let us prepare to worship him in the throne of his people–the poor, the vulnerable, the refugees, the prisoners, and all who are in need.
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