Grace to You, and Peace from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ!
It is hard for me to imagine writing this letter in what will be the final issue of the 2010 edition of the Lund’s Corner Courier. The parsonage is decorated in pumpkins and mums, and a banner emblazoned with the words “Give Thanks” is waving from the flagpole on the front porch. Thanksgiving and Christmas are only subjects of eager anticipation at this point in time.
And yet a stanza from “Joy To The World” is rolling around in my mind: “Let every heart prepare HIM room…”
Up until two years ago, it had been my custom to go away for a four-day pastor’s retreat for prayer and pressing in closer to God’s presence. While I was initially disappointed with the sponsoring organization’s decision to do away with the Pastor’s Prayer Summit, I believe that God has been gently and methodically leading me into a deeper and more intimate journey of prayer and practicing HIS presence.
Perhaps that could be why I find Autumn to be my most favorite season of the year. There is something very spiritually deep about the gathering anticipation of spending Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad’s place which has not so much to do with the sumptuous feast of turkey and all the trimmings, as much as it has to do with rejoicing together with family and friends, and thanking God for the blessings that HE has given us so abundantly!
As we wind down “Ordinary Time” and launch into Advent (Sunday, November 28th!!!) and the parament colors are changed from green to royal purple, we are inevitably going to be bombarded with signs declaring that there are only XX more shopping days until Christmas! As a former retail manager, I was accustomed to seeing stores mobbed and picked clean by shoppers rushing around and frantically “checking off” their Christmas shopping lists. I happened across an alarming statistic recently which stated that Americans spend an average of $450 Billion Dollars each year at Christmas!
This year, instead of flocking to the malls in pursuit of buying gifts out of obligation, I propose a paradigm shift in our thinking. Instead of buying gifts that stand a good chance of being returned or exchanged (a similar statistic showed that an average of 40 percent of all Christmas gifts wind up being returned… or even re-gifted…) what about giving gifts that come from the heart. How about giving the gift of time? How about spending time with a friend you haven’t talked with in a while?
Perhaps it’s time to volunteer your time, either in the church, or in a ministry that concentrates on feeding the hungry and homeless? Perhaps it’s time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom? Perhaps it’s time to write a letter to mom? How about baking cookies and singing Christmas carols? Perhaps it’s time to express love through relational giving? Sounds better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right?
This season is all about relationships and sharing together in the greatest gift of all. While you’re spending time with your family and friends, don’t forget to spend time in God’s word, and in prayer. Most of all, don’t forget to spend time giving of yourself, and certainly don’t forget to spend time worshiping with your church friends and family each Sunday morning! Let every heart (including yours and mine) prepare room for Jesus as we progress through autumn, through Thanksgiving, and into the celebration of HIS birthday!
Monica and Amanda join me in wishing each of you a Happy and Memorable Thanksgiving, a Joyous Advent, and a Blessed Christmas this year!
Blessings (always) in Jesus…