In my family (thanks to my American auntie, Auntie Melea) the rule was that Christmas decorations could not go up until after Thanksgiving!
In Christian tradition, however, Christmas does not begin until the 25th of December! The period leading up to Christmas, that begins this Sunday, is Advent – a time of expectant waiting and preparation for Christ. (That, however, does not stop us from referring to church events as ‘Christmas’ events! 😊 Like the Church Christmas Party next Saturday (9th December), 6pm for 6:30pm start. If you haven’t told Meryl or Kathy that you are coming – please email them ASAP – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)
I have been in a few conversations this week about Advent and what it means. So, I thought I would give you an Advent pop quiz!*
- Advent is a time of preparing for Christ’s coming from three different perspectives. Can you name all three?
- When does Advent begin in the Eastern Christian tradition (Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, etc.)?
- How is Advent different from Lent? (And how was Advent once very much like Lent?)
- Gaudete Sunday is the 3rd Sunday in Advent. Do you know its two other names (and how it got those names)?
- Which of the following are ways people observe Advent? A. using an Advent calendar; B. Lighting an Advent wreath; C. Reading and praying an Advent daily devotional; D. Setting up a Christmas tree; E. Putting up Christmas decorations.
I think my Auntie Melea was right, however. Thanksgiving should come before we move into Advent, and onto Christmas.
On Monday at Morning Prayers Sue Williams shared this wonderful prayer of thanksgiving (below). Can I encourage you to read it and pray it (as you wait eagerly for your first Advent devotional next Monday, 4th December!)
Can I also encourage anyone who would like to, to join us for prayers (between 8am and 8:30am on Zoom) this Friday, 1st December. When Aboriginal Christian leader, Brooke Prentis, was here, she suggested that we set aside the first of each month to pray for our First Nations people – and so we will be doing this on Friday. Zoom link HERE (Password – Currie)
Grace and peace,
O Lord, We Thank You (based on Psalm 100)
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
For all the times we laughed till our sides ached; for all the times we were troubled, and friends we didn’t even know we had sprang up from nowhere and ministered to us; for all the times we could have chosen evil over good, but didn’t; for all the times we could have been hurt, but weren’t; for all the times we could have died suddenly and unprepared, but didn’t; and for what would have awaited us even if we did; O Lord, we thank you.
Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
For the sheer wonder of our creation, preservation, and redemption; for the privilege of prayer, the gift of the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit; for the everlasting arms beneath us, the watchful eye above us, the friends around us, and the trust within us; O Lord, we thank you.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For our churches, and all things good and godly they have done and been; for all their saints whom we have laid to rest, and for their little children who shall one day lay our bodies to rest and carry on in our stead; O Lord, we thank you.
For the Lord is good.
For seedtime and harvest and food enough; for every good night’s sleep and every good day’s work, every good friend and every grand sunset; for warm memories of the past, and the promise of an eternal tomorrow; for eyes to see beauty, ears to hear a bird’s songs, hands to hold someone else’s hands, and for someone else’s hands to hold; O Lord, we thank you.
His steadfast love endures for ever and his faithfulness to all generations.
For all persons whose love for us is unconditional, and in whose presence we can drop all pretence, be ourselves, and know that we shall be accepted; for the one who calls us long distance, and the one who calls us darling, and the one who calls us Dad or Mum, and for the one who shall one day call us into eternity; O Lord, we thank you.
What shall I render unto the Lord for all his bounty unto me?
I will offer unto him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Amen.