As the year begins to draw to an end and the secular holiday season is beginning, this is a wonderful moment to take time to reflect on what God is doing in the world around us. The glorious autumn leaves are pretty much gone by now, the trees having shed them in preparation for the New England winter season that is just about here. Between prepping the yard and house for winter, we’ve been hauling out the winter clothes from storage and putting away our summer things.
Because this is a yearly ritual for us, the miraculous nature of the changing seasons goes unnoticed for the most part. In the dark and cold, in the desolation and deathlike sleep of a winter woods, none of us loses heart; we know that spring is coming. We know it because we have seen it. We have learned to believe in rebirth and new life.
This Thanksgiving, I invite you to welcome the dark and the cold knowing that it is preparing the world for the bursting forth of new growth and renewal that will be winter’s concluding moments.
As we gather around our feasting tables, and as we give thanks for the fruits of this past year, recognize that the holidays, and the dark long nights that are part of that will come to an end soon enough. We have seen it before.
And then, I hope you might remember that this yearly cycle of darkness and light, death and renewal, winter and spring, is a reminder that this is true in our lives and in our history as well. We have seen hard moments and we have seen renewal. We have seen them in our congregations, in our communities and in our own lives. The darkness ends in the dawn. Our family feasts this Thanksgiving are a testimony to that truth.
We enter the season of Advent, as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. But just as happens every year, in four short weeks — for those who are paying attention — as the cycle is reversed and the light grows stronger, we remember that God entered the world in the form of a small child whose life forever changed the course of history.
And so we feast as the days grow colder and the darkness grows. Because we are people who know, because we have seen it, that the darkness heralds the dawn and that winter will bring the springtime.
Happy Thanksgiving and thanks be to God!