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Advancing God’s Love and Justice

Greetings friends,
There is a bit of consternation in my social media feed about when it is permissible to decorate for Christmas. I have always been a staunch defender of waiting until after Thanksgiving. I don’t want to be sick of Christmas carols before Christmas actually gets here! But more importantly, I really like Thanksgiving as a holiday. If we start celebrating Christmas too early, we may miss the benefits of having a holiday focused on the importance of gratitude.

It doesn’t happen all that often, but this year, we’re blessed with an additional Sunday between Thanksgiving and the start of Advent. I encourage you to take advantage of this extra time by letting the spirit of Thanksgiving linger just a little longer in your heart and mind. Ask yourselves what thankfulness means to you, how it affects your life, and perhaps more intentionally this year than in other years, think about what it means to build Advent and Christmas upon this foundation of gratitude.

What might it mean to come to your Christmas shopping and decorating with a heart full of gratitude for that in your life which is good? When you’re hauling out the holly, be grateful for its color, or think about some good memories associated with it. Or when you’re looking for that “doll that will talk and will go for a walk,” or, “a pair of hop-a-long boots and a pistol that shoots,” think about how grateful you are for your own Janice, Jen, Barney, or Ben.

The stress of holiday planning and gift buying can be quite high. A lot of folks get the blues this time of year, thinking about loved ones no longer with us, shorter days, or how much everything costs. Gratitude can function as medicine for us, to cary us through this stress. It can keep our priorities healthy, the smiles on our faces, and the warmth in our hearts when other things start to stress us out.

Gratitude can even prevent people like me from getting overly stressed by those who want to deck the halls on November 1!

Grace and peace to you, and happy Thanksgiving!
Mark

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