I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
In the last few minutes before my wedding ceremony this May, I turned to the pastor officiating, a dear friend and colleague who has been married the better part of three decades. I asked him, "Randy, what's the secret?" He smiled, and with confidence, he said, "Intentionality." We had spoken before about this topic. And I wasn't surprised by his answer. His words, like his actions, were always slow, and deliberate. And that's what made them so wise.
As I think about the busy calendar of our lives and the church's life at this time of year, that's a word that always comes to mind... intentionality. It is fortuitous that a season of giving and receiving is preceded by a holiday and a month of reflection about giving thanks. It mirrors the Eucharist, Communion. The prayer of thanksgiving comes before receiving the gift of Christ's body. The holiday season of Thanksgiving comes before the gift of the Christ Child.
It's not at all surprising that stores and our American culture of consumerism rushes from consuming chocolate at Halloween to our largest shopping season, trampling a season of intentionality set aside for thanksgiving and appreciation. What is surprising is how many of us believers get swept up by it. We forget that being intentional with our time and money and mindset and prayer life with our families can help us be truly prepared for Advent and Christmas by spending a month being thankful.
I hope that as you rush around in the coming weeks, you will find time for intentionality, to look at your life and loved ones and be thankful. Your Advent will be more full of hope, peace, joy, and love because of it.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to slow down and be intentional. Help me to pause between the holidays for this important time of spiritual reflection, holy appreciation, and sincere thanksgiving. Open my eyes to my blessings, and help me be blessing to others, unburdened by the world and selfish entitlement, and filled with a spirit of expectation and hope for the season ahead. Amen.