Monthly Archives: November 2012

‘Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is over; Black Friday has come and gone – thankfully. Family and friends have  departed and quiet prevails in the house. Guest rooms are cleaned and back in order and the family dog has eaten his share of turkey.  Leftovers have been served until no one wants to face them again. No more gravies, stuffing, pies or eggnog until Christmas.

I’m glad we don’t eat this way every day.  But  the community effort in preparing the Thanksgiving meal, the family fellowship around the table, the camaraderie at the kitchen sink and dishwasher, and the shared football experience in the TV room, all add memories that are a part of the fabric of our lives. Shared experiences, shared memories are so important to remind us that we have lived – that our existence has been significant, if not to the world, than certainly to each other.

There is something special about the Thanksgiving through Christmas season. Year after year as we celebrate these two important events there is a nostalgia in the air that moves us to keep  in touch with each other – family with family, and friends with friends. We telephone to or receive calls from out-of-town family, thankful that the aging ones are still with us. Calls, cards, notes, or emails come from friends with whom we seldom communicate at other times of the year.

There seems to be a yearning to reconnect in a more tangible way during the holiday season. It’s different from Facebook communications, which is so general – a kind of put-it-out-there and see if anyone reads it.  Thanksgiving and Christmas communications are more like, “we think of you specifically, care about our relationship with you, and want to renew our personal connection”.

There is also a spiritual element to this season that is unlike other times of the year; the awareness of a God-connection. It’s a mystical sense of the “other world” that runs parallel with this physical one – the invisible, unseen dimension that came into our space-time zone some 2,000 years ago in the person of a little baby boy named Jesus.

Even though the spirit of this world has tried to get our attention off of that original gift from God, the light still shines brightly and the darkness has not been able to extinguish it. When we see the decorations in stores, on houses, and other buildings – and though their themes may be purely secular, they still remind us that something happened those many years ago that changed the course of the history of the world, and continues to change history as each new year is added to that history.

We are reminded in John 1:6-7, 9 of the entrance of this supernatural light:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”

and in John 1:14 of God in a human body:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

and in John 3:16 the reason that He who is light took on human flesh and brought a gift to us from His Father:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

There is a sense of joy and expectation in this season – and it’s not about material things – it’s about the God who loves His creation, who came to us to demonstrate that love.  The sense of the uniqueness of the this season goes beyond cultural, national and ethnic boundaries. Wherever there are those whose hearts have been entered by the Spirit of the Christ, Christmas will continue to be more than trees and lights and wrapped presents;  Christmas will be a time of embracing this God of love and His gift of life; a time of gratitude and generosity toward others. No Grinch can steal this memory from hearts that have been touched and transformed by this gift; which is in us light, love, and eternal life from our Creator God.

Welcome to the season of Christmas!

©2011, Marcy Alves

edited 2012

Cultivating the Habit of Thankfulness

Which habit is most characteristic of you on a daily basis: gratitude or grumbling? Is it hard for you to find things to be thankful for as you make your way through an average day? Maybe it’s time to develop an attitude of gratitude.

The first Sunday in November I challenged the folks in our congregation to look for something to thank the Lord for in each day leading up to Thanksgiving Day, and to write those things in a notebook. I took the challenge myself as part of my quiet time with the Lord. I found that the more I exercises thankfulness, the more I found for which to thank God.

Though I may have repeated a few things, like being thankful for my awesome husband and brightness and warmth of sunshine, I found myself thanking God for things that I usually just take for granted. I actually have about eight pages of things for which I am thankful and plan to continue writing them down until the last day of November.  Here’s part of my current list:

  • My husband David; what God has done in and through his life and what he is to me.
  • God’s hand in my life
  • The Lord Jesus – all He did on our account and that He understands perfectly my needs and desires and prays to the Father for me
  • The location of our house where I can look out on fields, trees, grass and  the changes of the seasons
  • Birds that come to our feeder and sing their bird songs
  • Friends: lifelong and recent
  • Family, including our church family
  • Food – so many wonderful tastes
  • A warm house, a shower and a comfortable bed
  • The gifts of speech and writing
  • The 6 senses:   Touch, taste, hearing, smell, sight and the spiritual sense of God’s presence
  • Living in a free country
  • A car and a garage to keep it in, especially in New England winter
  • Electricity
  • A washing machine, dishwasher, stove and refrigerator
  • The covenant God made with us through the shed blood of Jesus and all the promises of that covenant
  • God’s faithful to His promises
  • My husband’s hugs
  • Quiet solitude
  • Praying friends who believe in the power of God
  • Books of many kinds and topics, especially inspirational stories
  • God’s created world of nature – the outdoors
  • The crunch of dried leaves underfoot as I walk in the autumn woods
  • Music, art, literature – reflections of our Creator – for “every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of light”
  • That my life is in God’s hands
  • The ability to see God’s handiwork everywhere around me
  • Faith, love, peace, joy – the fruit of the Holy Spirit

I could go on and on. There is so much to be thankful for in the midst of a world that gravitates toward negativity and pessimism, grumbling and complaining.

An attitude of thankfulness is important.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

So, if you are finding yourself weighed down with negativity, try being thankful for something or someone every day between now and Christmas. And have a blessed season of reflection on all the gifts that were included in the gift of God’s Son and make this a time of gratitude for what you have, not what you may be lacking.

©2012, Marcy Alves

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