Thankful for Advent

Dear Reader,

I hope you enjoyed eating your Thanksgiving dinner as much as I did!

I love Thanksgiving; family and friends gathered around the table for no other purpose than to enjoy each other’s company, and to celebrate the many blessings God has given to us. And as much as everyone gripes about the “no Christmas before thanksgiving” rule, I find that the two are inextricably linked in my mind, and not just because after Thanksgiving day I can publicly allow myself to listen to Christmas music.

For me, the day after Thanksgiving is the beginning of advent; the perfect reminder that the Holidays are a time of joyful celebration of blessings, with the people who are blessings in our lives. And as we begin counting these blessings, of course we cannot help but remember that we have already received the greatest gift possible, Our Savior King Jesus. So before we move on to the season of Christmas, I wanted to take one final post to talk about creating in our home a culture of hospitality and thanksgiving.

And here’s the good news; all the best parts of thanksgiving don’t have to exist only on one special Thursday out of an entire year. Thanksgiving can exist wherever we are, when we create in our hearts, and in our homes, a culture of hospitality.

The Practical Magic of Giving and Thanks.

Most of us in the western world have more than we realize, some of us more than we even know what to do with. And I’m not going to take the time to do some lecture on the evils of money (weather having or not having), but I will commend to you what we talked about a few posts ago, giving generously of what we do have.

All that we have, the Lord has given to us, and he has asked us, in turn, to share what we have with others. Seems elementary right? But how often do we actually look at all that we have and say to ourselves, “all this belongs to God, I wonder what he would have me do with it today?” Even as rich as most of us are, do we look around us and say, “I have more than enough, what could I share?”

The most obvious testimony to the incredible amount of sin in all of our hearts is our innate selfishness. We don’t really want to give of all we have. We don’t really want to invite others in to share in our wealth; it’s uncomfortable. We don’t like it.

But that’s why holidays are like a little piece of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth in my opinion. They are times when we are more likely to throw these discomforts out the window, in order to share in the greater joy of being a blessing to those around us. That’s the “magic” of the holiday season; the magic is that for once we stop only thinking about ourselves. We start counting our blessings. We slow down and realize how good life is when we open our eyes and pay attention to what God is doing around us, even if maybe we wouldn’t believe there is a God to thank for it.

Ann Voskamp speaks much about the power of giving thanks in her book One Thousand Gifts. She says that “eucharisteo (giving thanks)… precedes the miracle.” She talks extensively about how giving thanks for the things around us changes us, and it turns everything we see from “not enough” into abundance. I love the way she phrases these things, and after a year that has been full of trial and suffering in so many ways, I know I personally could not be more ready to return to a season of joy and rest, through giving thanks.

And that’s the miracle isn’t it? The practical magic that giving thanks turns scarcity into abundance. When we begin to count all the ways God has been faithful to us, and we realize that there are so many more ways that we cannot even see, we become overwhelmed with his love and the joy of it all, and then how could we help but give it away? It’s too much for one heart to hold.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

As we say goodbye to our hospitality series, we say hello to this next month of Advent, and I wanted to take a moment to let you in on my hopes for you in this season dear Reader:

I hope you remember that Christmas is by far and away the greatest love story ever told, and that you can’t stop telling it to other people. I hope that we can stir our hearts with thanksgiving and worship of our King this December, in a way that changes how we look into the future of a New Year. And I hope that no matter where we ate thanksgiving this week, no matter what circumstances have pushed and pulled us over the past month, no matter where we are this time next month when Christmas rolls around, that these words will inspire you to remember that Jesus is our greatest gift, our greatest love, our greatest joy, and our greatest hope. And he always will be, for eternity.

Blessings on you Dear Reader, and I hope you look forward to our three week Advent series here at the Sparrow’s Nest. I can’t wait to share this season with you! See my list below for a few of my favorite Advent resources. And let the season of rejoicing begin!

Advent Resources:

Behold the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey

An amazing day by day devotional exploring the story of Jesus’s birth in short chapters full of such rich detail, that the mystery of the season really starts to come to life.

The Wonder of the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Ann just released this latest rendition of her book The Greatest Gift with a daily advent story and ornament to go on a pop-up Jesse tree. Fun and accessible for kids of all ages, I plan on ordering our family this book this year!

Behold the Lamb of God Album by Andrew Peterson

This album goes into the history of messiah, back to the garden when God first told Adam and Eve of the hope of a Savior. His beautiful musical compositions will bless you as you reflect on the meaning of Christmas, and the amazing love story of the Gospel. Also available on itunes and amazon music.

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