We aren’t quite in Advent yet, but the season begins soon ─ next Sunday, December 3rd. Actually, some believe Advent should start a bit earlier ─ after the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30. And scholars remind us that it was originally a seven-week season, before the Church settled into the shorter four weeks or so to which we are accustomed.
If I could wave a magic wand to make changes to the liturgical year, I might choose to have Advent begin the day after Thanksgiving ─ at least for those of us in the United States. I think that this might inspire us to keep up the “attitude of gratitude” that Thanksgiving encourages all the way through the preparatory build-up to the season of Christmas.
During the Advent season we are invited to focus on the themes of anticipation, patience, hope, and promise ─ all of which are wonderful things to cultivate in our lives. And keeping the practice of giving thanks alive during this season as well could be quite fruitful. Thankfulness might be a particularly effective antidote to the commercialism and excessive busyness of the season. It might also be a helpful way to pray when we feel some of the holiday blues that can crop up at this time of year. And finally it can help us go into Christmastide with a sense of gratitude for the most amazing gift of all ─ the Christ child who is always being born into our world and our lives, bringing the joy and wonder of new beginnings to us all.
So don’t leave the Thanksgiving Day prayers behind as you ready yourself for Advent ─ keep them going for the season. And even beyond! (If you need a little inspiration, there is a whole section of Thanksgiving prayers in the Book of Common Prayer, pp. 836-841.)
Gracious God, grant us hearts full of gratitude for all that you have given us ─ even those things which might not seem like blessings to us now. May we so grow in the practice of thanksgiving during the season of Advent, that we are inspired to continue to be grateful all the days of our lives. In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity we pray. Amen.