From Gratitude To Advent

I pretty much took the Thanksgiving weekend off. At least off from thinking and writing. Not off from all physical activity, though. About 90 minutes in the backyard teaching my grandson how to beat a defender one-v-one (soccer) led to a little stiffness in muscles too little used for three days.

Last weekend in America is all about gratitude–at least in theory. The reality is that while some of us may pause and reflect upon the many things we are or should be grateful for, all the news and hype of the weekend point toward self-gratification (Black Friday–the day when retail outlets determine their profitability for the year).

Sometimes I think that even when buying for others, people generally are thinking about themselves–how they will be perceived or how they will be reciprocated.

Advent

We immediately transition from gratitude to advent–the coming of Jesus. An event for which we should have ultimate gratitude.

But once again we have turned the season from reliving the anticipation of the coming of Jesus into a season of self-indulgence. From marketing messages through mass media, you’d think that all that mattered was what to buy. Then there’s all the “secular Christmas” music that’s all about Santa Claus, nostalgia, what I want for Christmas.

I don’t want to sound like Scrooge, or the Grinch. I love being generous. Christmas trees and lights are fun. (By the way, we found where the Griswalds moved to–my daughter’s neighborhood. Reference to the classic Christmas Vacation–my favorite Christmas movie. See I can have fun, too.)

Where these thoughts were coalescing this morning was around what I see as a major factor in interpersonal dysfunction–why we can’t get along together. That would be narcissism. “It’s all about me.” It’s hard to consider others when it’s all about me. An excellent book on the subject (in addition to Proverbs and the Gospels) is “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement” by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell.

Jesus had every reason to be “full of himself.” Aside from the “I am” statements in the Gospel of John, he was pretty much focused on other people–their needs, fears, hearts, direction, lives.

The writer of the book of Hebrews calls Jesus the “pioneer of the faith.” As a follower, I’m trying to emulate his focus on others. This is a good season to remind ourselves to practice this.

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