Updated: Feb 7, 2022
“Thanksgiving & Advent”
Do you feel what I feel? I feel thankful for God’s blessings. To list God's blessings would be simple and as numerous as there are stars at night. But, when it deals with how God wants us to experience thanksgiving, it has to do with people. How many of us have someone we should be thanking - possibly a parent, a grandparent, or a friend? Whomever you feel you should thank, don’t hesitate. Contact them and thank them. Thanksgiving is not about a deep-fried turkey, or a honey baked ham. Although, Thanksgiving is always better with good food, but it is truly about who we ought to thank. Take a moment and thank someone. I have a feeling, God will be there to bless that moment.
The anticipation of Christmas is one of my favorite feelings of the year. As soon as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” song is played on the radio, it signals Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is upon us. Shopping malls, department stores, and even the decorations around downtown LA (DTLA) starts to brighten the streets and buildings with Christmas lights. This Christmas, it would be nice to experience a little normality and familiarity. Hanging of the greens, Christmas Caroling, and Candlelight service are just a few things I look forward to during the Christmas season. In my childhood years, I never had a Christmas tree in my home. I was always envious when I would sit in the passenger seat of my mother’s car during the season and witness tall Christmas trees displayed in the windows of homes around Los Angeles. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in seminary that I got my first ever Christmas tree. I remember how excited I got when I asked my roomies, “How do you guys feel about getting a Christmas tree at our place?” They didn’t seem too thrilled because all they could think about was the work it would require to tear it down when it was over. I told them that I will take care of it all if they would agree to have a Christmas tree.
I still remember the night. We brought the tree into our living room, placed it right in front of the window where the tree can be viewed from the street. We hung the strings of lights, and then finished up with the ornaments. I asked one of my roommates to turn off the living room lights so that we can see the Christmas tree lights turn on for the first time. It was a magical moment. I remember staring at the tree for hours. I knew exactly how I wanted the tree to be decorated and it turned out to be even better. From that Christmas on, I’ve had a Christmas tree in my house every year.
For some of us, doing the traditional Christmas routines may feel just that, routine. But after a long pandemic, I pray we can take the time to do what used to feel magical – meeting with others, cheering on the Christmas pageant, and wishing people a “Merry Christmas.” It’s Christmas that brought hope to a hopeless world. It’s Christmas that brought peace into a world of violence and division. It’s Christmas that reminded us of God’s love, that “Agape love” - unconditional love. It’s Christmas that brings joy, which is different from happiness. The joy of Christ is usually experienced when one has gone through a long, hard, painful time and realizes that Jesus was there all along, to guide us and to help us persevere. It is then, do we experience true joy. I pray we all experience the hope, peace, love, and joy of Jesus Christ during this Christmas season. Merry Christmas, Centenary UMC!
Rev. Ki Choi
West District Conference