It just occurred to me that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas and, no — the turkey hasn’t gobbled up my brain ! Obviously, I’ve known , as far as our American calendar goes, Thanksgiving is securely holding a spot on the fourth Thursday of every November with Christmas following closely behind — a flip of the calendar page and 4 weeks later — on December 25th. I’ve marched to this routine all my life — never questioning or even discussing the why of it all. It just happens every year and no one seems to think twice about the “coincidence” of it all.
Without going into major research on the reasons behind the timing of each calendar event — especially in relation to each other — it occurred to me how fitting it is that we give thanks before we accept the gift.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times with family and friends — remembering the past year and intentionally stopping to verbalize our thanks for the blessings of the year and God’s faithfulness and love even in the times of suffering. Then, before the clock strikes midnight on Thanksgiving Thursday, it seems someone flips a cosmic switch that sends everyone into a spin cycle of frantically preparing for the upcoming Christmas holiday– the gifts, the decorations , the meal planning, the travel plans, the family scheduling of “when to be where” , the navigating of which side of the family to see when, etc.
I want to sit with Thanksgiving , staying long enough to really be thankful, because I already know the Gift that’s coming on Christmas. It happens every year and every year I know the end of the story …Jesus came to earth to live with us — to pitch His tent in our neighborhood, as my husband always says — so that we would have the opportunity to be in His family …adopted …chosen …full family privileges …with a Daddy who never leaves.
We were taught as kids to always open the card first — then the gift. I think the reason behind that was so that we would stop and pay attention to the giver — to look in their face and acknowledge them for their kindness to us. I wonder if Thanksgiving is like a card that’s sent to us before opening the Gift of Christmas? When we open the card of Thanksgiving, we stop …and focus on the Giver … acknowledging His kindness to us …thanking Him for coming to our party …grateful that He never abandoned us.
It’s not a spoiler to know what’s coming in the Gift ! It only makes opening the card of Thanksgiving more exciting! We know how this story comes together. We are given the card of thanks — an invitation to the party with the Gift Giver. We read our own story and thank Him for how His story intersected our’s. We know what’s coming — and we wait in anticipation with thankful hearts to the One Who made it all possible.
Sit with Thanksgiving …enter in with joy ! Let thanks settle deep into your soul as you eat and drink of God’s goodness.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Give thanks for the Gift in advance. This is how my Mom always prayed — asking God to help in time of specific need but thanking Him with the next breath …trusting in the Giver of all gifts to accomplish the work He had already begun.
After Thanksgiving Day when the clock signals Black Friday, consider instead — “Good Friday” when the Gift gave His life so that we could fully live …when the Light of Jesus Christ shone in a dark world.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV)
And this gift, unlike those from all the alluring advertisements, is offered free to all … just grab it with all you’ve got !
“…can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift,this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?”
Romans 5:15 The Message
Drink deeply from the water of life …
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17 (NIV)
This Gift that never wears out …
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)
Be thankful for the Gift that isn’t based on how good you’ve been all year …
But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man’s falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many. Romans 5:15 (Amplified Bible)
And it makes so much sense that we celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas every single year because …
“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”
Truly, God has prepared a table before us … our cup overflows! Open the card of Thanksgiving …the Gift has already arrived !