Thanksgiving weekend – families gather and all sorts of junk, normally packed neatly away the rest of the year, gets exposed afresh – not always much fun. In years of a transition presidential election, it is amazing what gets exposed. It’s also the weekend when all sorts of junk comes out of storage (Christmas decorations that is) and the joyous season of anticipation begins. Advent does not always start on Thanksgiving weekend, but regardless Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas season. And this year Advent does commence on Thanksgiving weekend; all the better.
What’s sad though is if we carry the unpleasantness that is often stirred up at Thanksgiving into the Christmas season. Christmas is all about new beginnings. It marks the time when God decided to try something different in His dealings with we imperfect people. But as different as the New Testament seems from the Old, I am always amazed at how similar they are.
For example, Christ told us what the greatest commandments were – Number 2 on the list was “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus did not make that up, He was quoting Leviticus, the oldest of God’s law:
You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
Pretty amazing context, isn’t it? I think it is a great parallel for the transition from Thanksgiving through Advent and into Christmas. The difficult discussions of Thanksgiving seem to be encouraged (you may surely reprove your neighbor) but then it seems like we are instructed to set that difficult discussion aside (but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people.) And I love the way it ends with “I am the Lord,” like the arrival of Jesus on Christmas day.
Is it not also stunning that this progression is roughly similar to how our political process is supposed to work? By the new year, we are supposed to be ready to proceed forward as a nation. Well, none of us have much say in who gets what job in Washington, but we do have a lot to say about family and friends and co-workers.
As Advent begins today let’s work on setting aside the difficulties of the election and any Thanksgiving difficulties that may have arisen – no sin, no vengeance, no grudges. It is time to come together as families, friends and a nation. Jesus is coming.