The season of Advent is always about anticipation. We anticipate, long for, await the coming of the Christ-child on Christmas Day. But this rhythm of anticipation is in contrast to a cultural practice of the Christmas season: an immersive season of celebration, gift-buying, eating, and music that demands we engage right now, right away, all season long.

How might we engage Advent in a fresh way this year? What if we could use the power of our senses — our body’s natural gifts of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound — to deepen our anticipation of the coming of Christ? All around us, we are invited into a full-sensory extravaganza of Christmas celebration — here and now — even at the outset of December. …

It is remarkable how much we have to be grateful for every day: the sun that rises, the air we breathe, warm homes to live in, clean streets in our cities, and the company of friends and neighbors with whom we live, move and have our being.

It is also remarkable how easy it is to become cynical and disoriented by all the heartache, hunger, injustice, and fear that we witness in the world. …

In the month ahead, many of us will gather around tables for meals with loved ones, friends and family. Some of us will travel long distances or receive guests from afar, sitting down together after time spent apart to eat, share stories, and experience each other’s company. It is the season of Thanksgiving, the time of year we return to God gratitude for an abundant harvest, a table filled with enough, and lives nourished from God’s hand.

As is common for many Christians who gather at table throughout the week and especially at Thanksgiving, we practice “saying grace.” I think of growing up, listening to my grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts, hosting the meal and gathering our family together with a word of prayer in response to God’s bountiful providence. We say “grace”, putting the words of thankfulness upon our lips. We speak the “grace” aloud, acknowledging before others the ways we have personally and communally been impacted by God’s providing love. …


Seth Thomas

Finding rhythm in Bellingham, WA.

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