Growing up, my family held the tradition of following our Thanksgiving feast with the official kickoff of the Christmas season: decorating gingerbread houses. My 20 cousins would cram into someone’s basement, tear into candy bags, and create our masterpieces. I remember frosting fights, broken houses, and major sugar crashes. Those memories of Thanksgiving merging into Christmas are the sweetest, quite literally, of my childhood.
Similarly, I’ve always valued the years when the calendar aligns and US Thanksgiving coincides with the first Sunday of Advent like it did this year. It seems natural that the gratitude of Thanksgiving would overflow into the hope of Advent.
Advent is observed on the four Sundays leading into Christmas. Traditionally, a candle is lit each Sunday, while the fifth candle, the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas. Advent creates space for both waiting and hoping. We wait for the second coming of Christ, but our wait is rooted in the hope that came through Jesus’s birth and the Incarnation.
The First Sunday of Advent (November 29 this year) is traditionally referred to as “Prophets Sunday.” We hear the voice of the prophets who called for repentance and previewed Jesus’ birth in the Old Testament; we honor John the Baptist and how he prepared the way for the Lord.
One passage often read on Prophets Sunday is Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NIV):
14 ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “ ‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
When I read passages like this, I like to write out key words from the prophecy. Sometimes, I even create a collage using the words. Fulfill. Good promise. Just. Right. Saved. Safety. The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
This year, more than ever, these words and this prophecy fill me with gratitude and hope. I am reminded that my every need and our world’s collective need is met in the person of Jesus Christ. The prophets knew this and held hope for the day when Jesus would come; I know this and live in gratitude for the gift that is Jesus.
As I move forward through Advent this year, I want to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope that points those around me to Jesus. Will you join me?
Annette Aguilar loves to read and write about a lot of things, including scriptures that provide hope. She is a wife, mother, and middle school Language Arts teacher who has lived in Guatemala for 10 years. Pre COVID, you could find her playing basketball and running, but now she’s happy with a masked walk around her neighborhood with her family.
The Union Church of Guatemala
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Dr. Ralph Porter
Women's Ministry President