Advent project

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The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (along with the Jesse Tree decorations)

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (along with the Jesse Tree decorations)

I’m excited to be going through Advent with Ann Voskamp’s beautiful book The Greatest Gift! It’s a Jesse Tree project where each day’s reading adds another bit to the story of Jesus’ family tree.

There are 25 decorations too, one to go with each day’s reading (sorry, you have to buy the book to get the password).

I spent last night watching curling and an old Columbo movie while I cut out and trimmed my decorations. I’m going to love December! (Our Costco had Ann’s book…maybe yours does too.)

October prompt: thanksgiving

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It’s October and in Canada the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving (second Monday), that “annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal” – Oxford Dictionary.  (I’m already making a menu in my head!)

Thanksgiving seems like an obvious thing to write about in October because of the holiday and other reasons. For farmers and gardeners fall can be a stressful time. My dad, a grain farmer, always had one eye on the sky, especially as harvest approached. Mom, listening to the weather forecast and paying attention to her arthritis, developed great instincts for when to cover the tomatoes and cucumbers to protect them from frost. What a relief and time for thanksgiving when all was gathered in!

Seasonal issues aside, gratitude (“the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness”Oxford Dictionary) is always a good thing. And it has many angles.

We could ponder who is getting our thanks?

The official thanksgiving celebration began when America’s pioneers paused to thank God for food, protection, health, survival etc.

We could ask, what is thanksgiving?

One leper returns to thank Jesus - by William Brassey Hole

One leper returns to thank Jesus – by William Brassey Hole

One aspect of it  surely is paying attention so that we see the many good things—from the fresh smell of rain to the tinkle of a baby’s giggle— that litter our pathway. It’s also expressing our gratitude. The story of the one leper who returned to thank Jesus after he was healed comes to mind (Luke 17:11-19). So does the story of the widow who made a room in her her house for the traveling prophet. Later when her son died, Elisha willingly came to pray for him (2 Kings 4:8-37).

We can contrast thankfulness with what it isn’t.

A sense of entitlement surely inhibits thankfulness. Henry Ward Beecher expressed it well: “Pride slays thanksgiving. … A proud man is seldom a grateful man for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves” – (quoted by Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts, p. 177).

We can see that it’s possible to look at all of life through gratitude-tinted glasses. Cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving is the point of Ann Voskamp’s popular book One Thousand Gifts. In it she writes: “In memory, the shape of God’s yesterday-heart emerges and assures us of God’s now-heart and reassures of His sure beat tomorrow … it is thanksgiving that shapes a theology of trust”  p. 152.

This month I invite you to write about gratitude / thanksgiving.

  • Perhaps you will write a story of someone who wasn’t thankful.
  • Perhaps your writing will tell of a kindness for which someone (you?) gave thanks in a unique way.
  • Perhaps you will write a poem that lists the many and diverse things for which you are grateful.

Whatever shape your writing takes, I hope the time you spend counting your blessings will be yet another item of thanksgiving to add to your list.