Ministerial Musings – “Give Thanks”

As the fall season wears on, every day brings us closer and closer to what singer Andy Williams in 1963 referred to as “the most wonderful time of the year”.
Soon, the ever-present pumpkin will give way to the ubiquitous peppermint. Decorations of Halloween and Thanksgiving will be replaced by decorations of Christmas (well, in most places; if you’ve set foot in Target or Menard’s recently, you’ll discover that that particular transition has already occurred). The backyard scent of charcoal and steak will be supplanted by the kitchen scent of baking cookies, and we will all once again engage in a Christmas shopping season that can only be described as teetering on the very edge of the lunatic fringe.
Here at Gower Christian Church, however, there’s going to be much less lunacy and much more joyful celebration. The season will, of course, begin with our annual traditional Fall Dinner, to be held on Saturday, November 14th. A cornucopia of wonder will be spread before the people of Gower in the Antioch Fellowship Center, and for three hours that evening, the community will stream through our building, eating their fill of amazing food and fellowshipping with their friends and neighbors.
Not long thereafter, of course, will be the holiday of Thanksgiving. For each of us, we celebrate Thanksgiving on our own ways. Some join together with extended family. Some watch the traditional afternoon slugfest between two NFC North powerhouses. Some indulge beyond the bounds of what the human stomach was designed to ordinarily handle. Some just have a simple meal with one or two close family or friends. But no matter what, each of us finds ourselves giving thanks for all we have been given in life, and for the people we are with on that day.
After Thanksgiving comes the time of year where we prepare for the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Emmanuel, the Christ, the Son of God. Though the event of Jesus’ birth did occur more than 2,000 years ago, we nonetheless take the four weeks of Advent each year to return our hearts and minds to a place of watching and waiting, just as those who sought the birth of the Messiah did over two millennia ago.
This year, we will be placing a strong focus on the church as the family of God during Advent. Each Sunday, we will ask one of the families in our church – young and old alike – to light that week’s candle on the Advent wreath. On November 29th, the first Sunday of Advent, we will use the service to place all the decorations in the sanctuary that will remain throughout the season and are designed to remind us of the birth of our Lord. On December 20th, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will join together in a service of lessons and carols. The sanctuary will fill with the joyous sounds of Christmas carols as our Church Mice and JYF youth lead us in heralding the birth of our Savior. Finally, on Thursday, December 24th, we will join together at 6:30 PM to worship by candlelight as we watch and wait for the arrival of the Christ child.
It is my hope that in these weeks and months ahead, each of you experiences the joy that comes of the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that you find yourself able to take a moment to watch and wait for the coming of our Lord. I look forward to seeing you all very soon, and for now, may you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.
In Christ,
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