It’s Thanksgiving in the United States.
I knew, conceptually, that Americans take this holiday very seriously.
I did not realize quite how Serious that meant.
But, in the spirit of thanksgiving, and thinking ahead to what I feel about the season of Advent*, I sent the following email yesterday**:
We met once or twice when I attended your church several weeks ago; I enjoyed the service and fellowship so much, but unfortunately I’m stuck working on Sunday mornings now and I haven’t been able to make it back.
I’ve been attending a home fellowship group still, though – they’re the ones who introduced me to your church, and I’ve been benefiting from the wisdom and warm community of your church even though I can’t make it on Sunday mornings.
I wanted to say “thank you”: the members of your church have been such a blessing to me as I settle into NYC, and I’m grateful to have found your church even though I continue to be mostly invisible in the community. I know it’s easy to forget that our churches have a broader reach than we see…realizing that I’m currently part of that, I thought that I would make some of the invisible visible.
I’m thankful for church, although I’m not certain I’ve got it figured out yet.
*This sounds hazy. It is also hazy in my mind.
**Edited for anonymity.
This morning I was at a big old church in Princeton while visiting friends for the weekend. I opened my bulletin and saw that it was the last Sunday in Pentecost and I was like, “whoa!”
Christmas is coming.
And so the sermon was about this place we’re at in the calendar year, where we’re about to launch into a season of hope and expectation but we need to prepare ourselves with reflection on why we’ve come to this point: Christ’s birth in a stable was necessitated by the brokenness that he needed to repair in the world. That brokenness is still here; we’re still a mess, and evidence goes to show that we’re not making great progress towards repair.
I’m looking forward to advent wreaths and new candles next Sunday. An excuse for more gingerbread cookies and hot cider. But to be honest, I’ve never been a die-hard Advent fan (I’m more of a Lent girl). I’m thinking about taking it seriously this year, though, and I might be able to pull that off if I reflect throughout Advent on the reasons for the season. If I think throughout our journey towards hope about how desperately we need that hope, not just about how much our retail stores are exploiting the holiday season for better sales.
Maybe my cynicism about Advent in past years has been blind to the fact that there is meaning in the season, and there is a desperate need for the love, hope, peace and joy we celebrate when we light the candles every week.
Christmas is coming. Thank goodness.