Every year it’s the same thing. It seems like one thing barely has time to end before another begins. Stress over Thanksgiving comes first.
The traditional Thanksgiving meal for most people is a turkey, and thanks to the wonders of our grocery system it is quite easy to procure a frozen one a week or two before Thanksgiving. And then the stress begins. Unless you are in possession of a second freezer, it is unlikely to easily have room for the turkey in your freezer.
But that is generally ok, because with 1 day of thawing required for each 4 pounds, chances are most of us just bring the turkey home and put it right in the fridge. Not an easy fit there either, and let’s face it, this is the largest hunk of anything most of us will ever have to thaw. Yet since we don’t want to get sick it has to remain below 40 degrees the whole time.
I opted to avoid the fridge and freezer space issues altogether by thawing the turkey in seasoned brine inside an ice chest on the back porch. Alton Brown’s method, though I tweaked it by only using 1.5% salt by weight (compared to bird and water/ice). It was fantastic and more than made up for our awkward Thanksgiving feast of the Beef ramen freezer meal we had last year for Thanksgiving, because we had literally just finished moving into our current house.
So the turkey and the other parts of the big meal cause stress, but that’s nothing compared to travel plans, negotiating family, and if you are particularly masochistic, Black Friday shopping.
Or perhaps you and your family opt to participate in any of the numerous ways there are to serve others at Thanksgiving. Maybe you worked at a soup kitchen, or delivered meals, or served at a large community or church meal.
A One Two Punch
Thanksgiving is a stressful time of year, but it’s nothing compared to the Christmas season. I don’t think Abraham Lincoln foresaw the stress of the season when he scheduled Thanksgiving, because even though it’s a month away from Christmas, it seems that every year that period of time in between gets shorter and shorter.
Hopefully your December is better off than ours always seems to be. Between Church events, travel plans, Christmas shopping, and parties of the business and personal variety it just becomes a packed and difficult season. Though we enjoy every moment of it… or at least most of the moments.
Yet the very season that is so very busy is a season that has us singing songs of joy, peace, and silent nights. It’s a time of waiting and anticipating. Of being quiet in heart and body. This can sometimes be a struggle, which is one of the reasons I have always enjoyed the candlelight service. It’s a wonderful moment of worshipful peace and joy on a silent night in preparation of Christmas.
And yet, this season is not simply the post-Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas season. It is a time the Christian church calls Advent.
The Season of Advent
The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. Most of the time we recognize the meaning of this word well as we reflect on and anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth – the incarnation of God. We sing Christmas hymns and carols, and most of us have this down fairly well.
However, the Latin word aventus is a translation of the Greek word parousia, though that word may or may not be familiar to you. This word, parousia, appears 17 times in the New Testament in reference to the second coming of Christ. It’s a word still used in many Bible commentaries.
So the season of Advent is a time, not only of anticipation of Christmas and the “coming” of Christ as a baby in the person of Jesus, but also it is a time of looking forward to the second “coming” of Christ.
He Came and He Will Come Again
There is a beauty in having an “Advent” mindset during this time of year. It can seem like the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas is just a crazy stretch of time between two big events, but there can be much more if we will make room in our hearts and minds.
The biggest shift can be one of recognizing the link between the anticipation of Christmas and the anticipation of Christ’s return. Many count down the days till Christmas in all manner of ways, and everyday you are likely to encounter some reminder of how many shopping days there are until Christmas. Use those times of anticipation to be a reminder that there is a great heavenly countdown till Christ’s second coming. The big difference of course is that nearly everyone knows how long there is until Christmas, nobody except God knows how long there is until Christ’s return. The angels don’t know, Jesus in His person did not know, and there is no way we can know. Yet the countdown continues.
Wait for It…
There is a character on popular TV show who often uses the line, “Wait for it…” to prompt anticipation. That’s the thing about anticipation, it’s not instant or sudden. There is a time of waiting. This season before Christmas, whether you refer to it as Advent or not, is a time of waiting. Waiting for Christmas.
Ask nearly any child, and they will readily confess that it is hard to wait for Christmas. In the same way (like a big kid) I can hardly wait for Christmas. This season is a season of waiting.
As we wait for the arrival of that miraculous baby on that fateful night, remember that we are waiting for that same person to return again. The world waited for a Savior since the fall. We all wait again for His return.
Allow God to speak to you on the beauty of his coming as a baby this season, but also allow Him to speak to you in anticipation of Christ’s return.
Enjoy the remembrance of that beautiful Christmas so long ago. Join with the Angels in their song, rejoice in the coming of the savior, give gifts in Love, and celebrate Christmas.
And also, with your Brothers and Sisters around the world, anticipate the second coming of Christ, and we may all be able to say together in one voice, “Come, Lord Jesus.”