Thanksgiving For The Advent Of Jesus
The Tradition of Advent on whychristmas?com
Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
There are three meanings of 'coming' that Christians describe in Advent. The first, and most thought of, happened about 2000 years ago when Jesus came into the world as a baby to live as a man and die for us. The second can happen now as Jesus wants to come into our lives now. And the third will happen in the future when Jesus comes back to the world as King and Judge, not a baby.
Advent Sunday can be from the 27th November (which it was in 2016) to the 3rd December (which it was in 2017)! Advent only starts on the 1st December when Christmas Day is on a Wednesday (which will happen in 2019)!
No one is really sure when Advent was first celebrated but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast during December leading up to Christmas.
Some people fast (don't eat anything) during advent to help them concentrate on preparing to celebrate Jesus's coming. In many Orthodox and Eastern Catholics Churches, Advent lasts for 40 days and starts on November 15th and is also called the Nativity Fast. (Advent also starts on November 15th in Celtic Christianity.)
Orthodox Christians often don't eat meat and dairy during Advent, and depending on the day, also olive oil, wine and fish. You can see what days mean now eating what foods on this calendar from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.In medieval and pre-medieval times, in parts of England, there was an early form of Nativity scenes called 'advent images' or a 'vessel cup'.
They were a box, often with a glass lid that was covered with a white napkin, that contained two dolls representing Mary and the baby Jesus. The box was decorated with ribbons and flowers (and sometimes apples). They were carried around from door to door.
It was thought to be very unlucky if you haven't seen a box before Christmas Eve! People paid the box carriers a halfpenny to see the box.
There are some Christmas Carols that are really Advent Carols! These include 'People Look East', 'Come, thou long expected Jesus', 'Lo! He comes, with clouds descending' and perhaps the most popular Advent song 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel!'.
There are several ways that Advent is counted down but the most common is by a calendar or candle(s).
There are many types of calendars used in different countries. The most common ones in the UK and USA are made of paper or card with 24 or 25 little windows on. A window is opened on every day in December and a Christmas picture is displayed underneath.
In the 19th Century, German protestant Christians counted down to Christmas by marking 24 chalk lines on a door and rubbing one off every day in December.
Paper calendars were first popular in Germany in the early 1900s, although people made their own ones from the 1850s. There's a debate about exactly where and when the first mass produced calendar was printed – but it was certainly in Germany in the early 1900s. During World War II, the production of Advent calendars stopped due to a shortage of cardboard.When they were first made, scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images were used, such as snowmen and robins, but now many calendars are made in the themes of toys, television programmes and sports clubs.
Some of these types of calendar even have chocolate under each window, to make every day in December that little bit better! I used to those when I was a little boy (and still do now!!!)! The first calendar with chocolate in it was made in 1958, although they only became really popular in the 1980s.
Some European countries such as Germany use a wreath of fir with 24 bags or boxes hanging from it. In each box or bag there is a little present for each day.
There are also now all different types of Advent Calendars used to sell and promote different products including chocolate, perfumes, alcohol and beauty products.
You can even get advent calendars for your pets with dog or cat treats in them! The world's largest advent calendar was made in 2007 at the St Pancras Train Station in London, England. It was 71m tall and 23m wide and celebrated the refurbishment of the station.
The most expensive advent calendar ever was made in 2010 by a jewellers in Belgium. It was made of 24 glass tubes each containing some diamonds and silver! It was worth about $3.3 million (€2.5 million | £2.1 million)!!!
You can also now get online Advent or 'Christmas Countdown' calendars and there's one on this site. So during December, why don't you visit the Online Advent Calendar and find out about something Christmassy each day!
There are two types of candle(s) that are used to count down to Christmas Day in Advent. The first looks a normal candle, but has the days up to Christmas Day marked down the candle.
On the first of December the candle is lit and burnt down to the first line on the candle. The same is done every day and then the rest of the candle is burnt on Christmas day.
I use one of these candles to count down during Advent.
Lutheran Churches in Scandinavia used 24 little candles to count down through December from the 1700s.An Advent Crown is another form of candles that are used to count down Advent. These are often used in Churches rather than in people's homes. The crown is often made up of a wreath of greenery and has four candles round the outside and one in the middle or in a separate place. Sometimes a more traditional candelabra is used to display the five candles.
One candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, two are lit on the second Sunday and so on. Each candle has a different meaning in Christianity. Different churches have given them different meanings, but I was taught the following:
- The first represents Isaiah and other prophets in the Bible that predicted the coming of Jesus.
- The second represents the Bible.
- The third represents Mary, the mother of Jesus.
- The fourth represents John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, who told the people in Israel to get ready for Jesus' teaching.
The middle or separate candle is lit on Christmas Day and represents Jesus, the light of the world. In Germany this fifth candle is known as the 'Heiligabend' and is lit on Christmas Eve.
In many churches, the color purple is used to signify the season of Advent. On the third Sunday, representing Mary, the color is sometimes changes to pink or rose.
Christmas Family Event: 12 Advent Ideas
You’re probably familiar with the classic Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.
” In it, a true love gives a gift every day for 12 days — from a partridge in a pear tree on the first day to 12 drummers drumming on the very last.
In the spirit of that song, we’re giving you 12 amazing advent ideas you can use or share with families to help them prepare their hearts for Christmas. Try one, or try them all. They’re our gift to you — true love!
Advent Idea 1: Picture Frame to Bring God Praise
- Christmas decorations,
- a digital camera,
- clear vinyl adhesive,
- dry-erase markers,
- adhesive-backed magnets (available at craft stores),
- and a frame template.
Creating Your Frame
This idea is easy to pull off if your church decorates for Christmas. Set up a photo booth in front of your Christmas decorations and have families pose for a photo. If possible, set up a printing station so families can get their pictures right away.
Then direct families to a craft station where they’ll follow these steps.
- Create an 8×10-inch frame the card stock.
- Decorate the frame with a Christmas theme. At the top write, “Glory to God.”
- Attach your family photo in the center of the frame.
- Cover the frame in clear vinyl adhesive, turning the frame into a dry-erase surface with the picture in the center.
- Attach an adhesive-backed magnet to the back of the frame.
- Write praises to God with dry-erase markers and keep adding to and changing the praises at home.
Advent Idea 2: Matching Items
- a Bible,
- and multiple sets of pictures of things that go together, such as a pencil and an eraser, a coffee pot and mug, a checkerboard and checkers, or a baseball bat and ball
How to Play
Play this game to kick off your Christmas celebrations with families. Hand a picture to each family. Then have them hunt for the family with the corresponding item. When families have found their match, have partnering families sit together and discuss why their items complement one another.
Then read the following pairs of Scripture: Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:26-38; Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1. Have families discuss how the pairs of Scripture complement one another-and why it’s significant that God knew the details of Jesus’ birth long before it happened.
Advent Idea 3: Gifts for Jesus
- a Christmas tree,
- costume jewelry,
- a scented candle,
- and a tube of lotion
Set up a small Christmas tree in your children’s ministry area, and arrange some costume jewelry, a scented candle, and a tube of lotion underneath the tree.
Gifts for Jesus
Offer gifts to Jesus with your family to remember the gifts of the wise men.
1. Read Matthew 2:2.
Say: The wise men gave baby Jesus gold to show that he is a king.
Find something fancy a gold-colored picture frame or a fashionable piece of costume jewelry, and place it under your Christmas tree as you take turns naming things you love about Jesus.
2. Read Revelation 5:8. Say: The wise men presented baby Jesus with frankincense, a spice used when people worshipped God. Set an unlit candle or another fragrant item under your tree, and take turns offering prayers as a gift to Jesus.
3. Read John 19:39-40. Say: The wise men brought myrrh, an ointment people put on bodies that were going to be buried. Set out lotion or perfume as you thank Jesus for dying for your sins.
Advent Idea 4: Weekly Mailings
- email or mailing addresses for families
Help families mark the four weeks of Advent by sending mailings that focus on the traditional theme associated with each candle on the Advent wreath. These mailings, brief enough to fit on a postcard, will remind families that Jesus, the Light of the world, is coming soon. Find customizable content for these weekly mailings here.
Advent Idea 5: Golden Stars
- For each family: a “Five Golden Stars” devotional kit that includes
- four small star stickers,
- one large star sticker,
- and the “Five Golden Stars” directions.
Give each family a “Five Golden Stars” devotional kit to lead their family in this experience at home.
Five Golden Stars
Follow these instructions to lead your family in celebrating Jesus’ birth.
Get four pieces of clean trash, such as crumpled, unused tissues. Hide them around the house in somewhat obvious locations, and then place a small star sticker in plain view just above the hiding place of each item.
Get a better item, such as a plate of cookies, and hide it very well. Place the large star sticker above it, but make sure the sticker isn’t easy to see.
Tell your family you’re sending them on a treasure hunt as they let the stars guide them to look for hidden treasure. Walk with your family as they search, and let them know when they’ve found all the stars.
- How did the treasure under the big star compare with the other treasures?
- How does the treasure of Jesus compare with other things about Christmas?
- What things can distract us from looking for Jesus?
Say: Jesus is the greatest Christmas treasure of all. He’s the very reason we celebrate! This Christmas, remember to look for Jesus. Enjoy the tasty treat together as a family.
Advent Idea 6: Ways to Serve
- a list of homebound church members (optional)
Challenge your families to spread Christmas cheer around your community by delivering traditional Christmas goodies. Provide a list of homebound church members, or challenge families to select six people in their neighborhood. Have families deliver each household a paper bag of hard candies, oranges, and apples, and linger to chat for a couple minutes or sing to the residents.
If possible, schedule deliveries for December 6, known in many countries as St. Nicholas Day. Tell kids in your ministry about the true St. Nicholas (find it at stnicholascenter.org), and read James 1:17-18 to emphasize that Jesus is the source of all good gifts.
Advent Idea 7: Kinds of Snacks
- For each family you’ll need a kit containing:
- four large pretzel rods,
- two graham crackers,
- one Hershey Treasure candy,
- one Tootsie Roll candy,
- two pretzel sticks,
- one marshmallow,
- five animal crackers,
- and the “Nativity Snack” directions.
Create this recipe with your family to better understand why Jesus is the reason for the season. (In addition to the contents of this kit, you’ll need wax paper and a can of frosting.) Without using the frosting or any other supplies, encourage your family to try to build a barn using the four pretzel rods as posts and the two graham crackers as a roof.
Lay out wax paper and spread frosting on it. Stick the pretzel rods in vertically, making sure there’s enough frosting around them to secure them in place. Use frosting to glue the graham cracker roof on the pretzel rods.
Set up a nativity scene inside the barn, using the Hershey Treasure as a manger. Use frosting to secure the Tootsie Roll on the manger as baby Jesus. Place the two pretzel sticks (Mary and Joseph), the marshmallow sheep, and the other animals (animal crackers) in the frosting base, using extra frosting as needed.
- Why was the frosting so important to this snack?
- Why is Jesus important to our lives?
Say: Just as we needed the frosting for our snack, we need Jesus to hold our lives together. He came at Christmas to be born for us and live for us. At Easter, he died on the cross because he wants to have a forever friendship with us in heaven. Now that’s a reason to celebrate!
Enjoy your nativity snack together.
Advent Idea 8: Supernatural Stories
When families are together for a Christmas event at your church, assign each family one of the following eight supernatural dreams or angelic visits. Then have each family work together to create a comic strip of the event. Have families share their work with everyone after they finish.
The supernatural stories: Matthew 1:18-21, Matthew 2:7-12, Matthew 2:13-14, Matthew 2:19-21, Matthew 2:22-23, Luke 1: 5-7, Luke 1: 11-19, Luke 1:26-38, and Luke 2:8-11.
Advent Idea 9: Christmas Traditions
- For each family: a kit with a round ornament and the “Christmas Around the World” handout, which includes traditions from India, Bethlehem, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, Britain, China, France, and Egypt
Christmas Around the World
In addition to the items provided, you’ll need green paint, blue paint, and paintbrushes.
Have your family name any Christmas traditions you practice. Then read the traditions (on the downloadable handout) to learn what people in other areas of the world do. Talk about why you think each tradition helps to focus on Jesus or distracts from him.
Paint your ornament to look a globe. After it dries, hang it on your tree and pray for the people in each country you learned about.
Advent Idea 10: Listed Items
- a Bible,
- and a list of top-10 baby names (available at ssa.gov)
At your Christmas celebration with families, share the list of baby names. Have families discuss what names they considered for their children when they were born.
Then lead families in making a top-10 list of names for Jesus, having families search in these verses: Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:11, John 1:14, John 1:29, John 6:35, John 10:11.
Encourage families to call out additional names they’ve heard for Jesus.Say: Jesus has so many names. One thing we know is that he is our Savior, and he was born at Christmas to be Immanuel, God with us.
Bonus! Turn your game into a service project. Brainstorm 10 items newborns need. Then encourage families to bring those items in for a ministry donation to a women’s shelter or pregnancy care center.
Advent Idea 11: Census Questions
- an online “Census Questions” survey.
Give families a “Census Questions” list to use at home. Use surveymonkey.com to create a free census of your own, using these questions. This is a great way to get to know what your families are doing to nurture faith-and help them think through their answers, too.
At the end of the survey, tell families to discuss how the “census” they just took from their home computer compares to the census Mary and Joseph traveled for in Luke 2:1-5. Census Questions Read aloud Luke 2:1-5 to see how Mary and Joseph had to travel for the census.
Then answer the following questions as a family.
- How many people live in our house?
- What’s the age of the youngest person in our house?
- What’s the age of the oldest child in our house?
- Why do we have Bibles in our house?
- What’s the best thing about our family?
- What do we about our family praying together?
- What’s our favorite thing about Christmas?
- How does our family’s faith help us at school or work?
- What’s each person’s favorite Christmas decoration?
- When are the best times for our family to talk about God?
- What’s something you’re thankful to God for today?
Advent Idea 12: Random Objects
- For each family: a kit with:
- a penny,
- paper clip,
- used staple,
- cotton ball,
- crumpled paper,
- heart sticker,
- aluminum foil,
- rubber band,
- and the “12 Days of Christmas” handout.
- In addition to the items provided, you’ll need:
- an empty egg carton,
- wrapping paper,
- permanent markers,
- a flashlight,
- a pen,
- and a soup can.
Place each item provided in the kit in its own slot of your empty egg carton. Cut a small circle of wrapping paper and tape it over each hole as a cover.
Tell your child the egg carton is full of items that’ll help your family get to know Jesus, your Savior. Beginning 12 days before Christmas, have your child choose one of the egg carton slots to open each day. Your child may remove the paper and discover the item.
Read the Scripture from the handout and follow the directions for the item your child chooses.
Check out all our Christmas posts, and for loads of great ideas all year long, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!
Thanksgiving and the Eucharist
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
This post is also available in: Spanish, Italian
Before thanksgiving was an American holiday, it was a hallmark of the Judeo-Christian tradition. All ancient peoples gave thanks for creation; only Jews and Christians believe that God acted decisively in history to secure our liberation from slavery. Eucharist simply means thanksgiving — and it is the supreme act of worship and thanks for the sacrifice that won our ultimate liberation.
For Americans, the term “Thanksgiving” conjures up images of turkey and cranberry sauce, parades and bowl games. These are “traditions” that have come to mark an event made a perpetual institution of American life by President Abraham Lincoln.
But why did Lincoln proclaim the last Thursday in November as a national holiday? Because it was clear to him that the blessings of food, land, family, and freedom enjoyed by Americans are all gifts from the Creator. But Americans, he realized, had forgotten this. A special day was needed for us to forget our differences and remember our blessings. And from remembering naturally follows giving thanks to the Source of those blessings.
Thanksgiving For Creation
The Israelites had an annual Thanksgiving Feast, as well. It was really a combination of two feasts, Passover and Unleavened Bread, and occurred in early spring. This is when the first crop, barley, began to be harvested and when the ewes gave birth to their lambs.
The pagan Canaanites had already celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread at this time to thank the gods for the harvest and offer them the first fruits as a sacrifice of gratitude.The pagan Bedouins, wandering from place to place with their flocks, celebrated the spring gift of lambs by sacrificing some of them to the gods in gratitude for the gift of fertility.
The ancients did not need divine revelation to know that divine forces brought about the world and all its creatures. That’s just plain common sense. That we owe these divinities a debt of gratitude is justice, pure and simple.
Thanksgiving for Liberation
But for the Jews, Passover was not just giving thanks for the blessings of creation. For them, God was not just the author of nature with it seasons and life-cycles. No, God was also the master of history. Among all ancient peoples, only the Jews believed that God entered into human history, manifested his love and power, and acted decisively to save his chosen people.
So while the pagans thanked their gods for the blessings each Spring for food and fertility, the Israelites thanked the Lord for food, but even more, for freedom. They remembered not only that creation comes from Him, but that salvation from slavery comes from him as well.
This remembering happens each year in a solemn way at a special Passover Meal that is the climax of the Jewish year.
On the night before he died, Jesus celebrated this solemn memorial by deepening its meaning yet further. Liberation from Pharaoh’s oppression was certainly something to sing about.
But there was a crueler slavery that a change of geography and regime could not alter. This slavery to Satan was kept in force through the shackles of sin.
Just as he acted through Moses to free his people from Pharaoh, God was now about to act decisively to liberate his people from the ancient curse. He would act personally, not through proxies.
Eucharist as Self-Gift
But this liberation would be costly. The only way that it could be won would be if God were to give not only his blessings, but His very self. To do this, God had become man, capable of offering the supreme sacrifice.
And before he did it in actual fact, he did it in sacrament by offering himself under the unassuming forms of bread and wine.Before delivering himself into the hands of the Romans to be their victim, he delivered himself into our hands to be our nourishment.
For his aim was not just to open the way to future bliss in heaven. His aim was to pour into our wounds the Balm of Gilead that would begin the healing process here and now. The bite of the serpent had injected venom. His body and blood would be the antidote, the “medicine of immorality” in the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
Love Poured Out as Blood
Blood brings nourishment and life to every cell of our bodies. It also carries away impurities that poison our system. The Eucharist offers us a transfusion–we put aside our old life and receive his ever-new life. His divine vitality for our tired, toxic blood.
The life of a thing was in its blood. It was poured out at the foot of the altar and could never be consumed, for it belonged to God alone. But here God pours out his own blood at the altar of the cross gives it to us as our drink, for the transformation of our lives.
“Do this in memory of me.” We are commanded to remember the supreme love of Christ for us that holds nothing back, that gives everything for our freedom.
So naturally the sacrificial banquet of remembrance is called the Eucharist, or “thanksgiving.
” The priest introduces the great central prayer of the celebration with these words: “let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” And we respond “it is right and just.”
During the Eucharistic Prayer, I always silently add in thanks for my personal blessings. I think of the natural blessings of home and work, of food on the table and the health of my family.
I also thank God for my own salvation history, especially for plucking me danger as a teenage, running with a wild crowd.
I thank God for bringing me together with a woman who loves him and loves me, and for having kept us faithful to him and each other for many years. I thank him for our own family’s salvation history.
If you haven’t already established the habit of adding your personalized thank-you’s to the priest’s Eucharistic Prayer, try it next time you’re at Mass. It’s a very appropriate mode of participating in that part of the Eucharist.
Eucharist & Sacrifice
But true thanksgiving is not just a matter of words and warm sentiments. Gratitude for a gift means offering a gift in return. He gave his whole, entire self to us–his body, blood, soul, divinity.
The only adequate response would be to offer ourselves.
Note what Paul says in his letter to the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).
So thanksgiving cannot be separated from sacrifice. The Mass is a celebration of his love and the freedom it won for us through his sacrifice.Through it, the love of God is poured into our hearts and enables us to love with his love. In the power of that love, we offer ourselves back to him and enter into that sacrifice which we celebrate.
True thanksgiving means self-giving. This is the meaning of Eucharist.
For more resources on thanksgiving, see Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation and Dr Italy’s post on Naaman and the Ten Lepers, a commentary on Luke 17:11-19.
For more resources on the Eucharist, see the Eucharist Library of the Crossroads Initiative.
Five Truths About Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is more than a day off. It is more than eating mashed potatoes and gravy, watching football, and taking a wonderful turkey-induced nap.
Thanksgiving is a pervasive and essential concept in Scripture. And although it is good to set aside a Thursday each November to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, the Scriptures have more to say about giving thanks than one day a year can handle.
Here are five biblical truths about thanksgiving.
1. Thanksgiving Is Trinitarian
The typical pattern of thanksgiving in the New Testament is that God the Father is the object of thanksgiving, God the Son is the person through whom thanksgiving flows, and God the Holy Spirit is the source of thanksgiving. Paul models this in Romans 1:8: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” And Colossians 3:16–17:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The very presence of thanksgiving points to the Holy Spirit as the source of thanksgiving because without the work of the Spirit it is impossible to please God (Romans 8:5–8).
Christianity does not call for vague thanksgiving to a vague deity. Our God is triune and, as a result, thanksgiving has a Trinitarian flavor. Thanksgiving flows to God the Father, through God the Son, from God the Spirit.
2. Thanksgiving Replaces Sin
When Paul commands believers to stop sinning, he also commands believers to put thanksgiving in its place. Paul writes: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4).
Paul knows that we are always acting. We either act with sinful, thankless hearts which leads to foolish talk or crude jokes, or we act with thankful hearts and thereby please God with our speech. John Piper explains,
The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry. (“Violence, Ugliness, and Thanksgiving”)
3. Thanksgiving Sanctifies Creation
How should Christians think about God’s good creation? Paul says that it should be received with a heart full of thanksgiving: “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4).
Paul teaches that creation is good and should be received with thanksgiving because it is made holy through the word of God and prayer. Piper explains the connection between the goodness of creation, thanksgiving, and prayer,[T]he word of God teaches us to taste food as a communication of his diverse goodness and his supreme worth. And when we taste food as a communication of God’s goodness and worth in the eating of this food, we offer up our prayers of thanks, and ask him to give us the fullest possible feast of his supreme worth.
And we pray this in Jesus’s name, knowing that every lasting blessing was bought by his blood. (“What God Made Is Good and Must Be Sanctified”)
4.Thanksgiving for the Gospel
We should aim to have our thanksgiving rise in proportion to the value of the object for which we give thanks. Therefore, we should be most grateful for God’s work for us in Christ because it unites us to our highest joy – God himself. Paul writes, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4).
Paul never tired of giving thanks for the grace of God in Jesus’s person and work. And neither should we. God has showed his love for us even when we were enemies of God (Romans 5:8); he called us darkness and made us heirs of God (Romans 8:17); Jesus bore the punishment we deserved, and we receive his perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
5.Thanksgiving in All Circumstances
One surprising aspect of thanksgiving is that it’s for all circumstances, not just one big meal a year. Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
Giving thanks in all circumstances is especially difficult while undergoing suffering. How can we be thankful when there’s something that hurts so much? We can give thanks in the midst of suffering because it is meant to enlarge our faith, not as punishment (2 Corinthians 4:17–18), and because it is redemptive, not random.
Our suffering is not punishment for our sin — because Christ has borne our punishment in our place (Romans 3:25). The demands of justice have been met. And our suffering is not random — because God is sovereign over it, and through it God is conforming us in the image of his Son (Romans 8:28–29).
5 Prayers of Thanksgiving for the Holy Eucharist
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15
In the writings of the saints, there is unanimous agreement that the Holy Eucharist is the greatest gift of God to mankind—for it is nothing less than Jesus Christ himself. We are united body and soul to Jesus in the Eucharist, and by receiving it, we become “partakers of the Divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). This thought should stagger our minds and fill us with the greatest joy.
But despite the tremendous power of the Eucharist, far too many of us don’t appreciate this gift as we should. We receive Jesus casually or carelessly, barely understanding the great mystery we are participating in.
This shouldn’t be. Remember, the sacraments aren’t magic.
Mother Church teaches us that Eucharist has power in our life in proportion to how well we receive it, so preparing our hearts to receive Christ well is of the greatest importance.
One time-honored way to grow in our appreciation for this holiest of Sacraments is to offer prayers of thanksgiving after each holy communion.
Doing so reminds us of the tremendous gift the Eucharist really is—a gift so great that even angels are envious of it. To get you started, here are 5 powerful prayers to pray after Mass.
Chose one or find one of your own—but most of all, give thanks for the great gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist!
1. Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas
Lord, Father all-powerful, and ever-living God, I thank Thee, for even though I am a sinner, Thy unprofitable servant, not because of my worth, but in the kindness of Thy mercy, Thou hast fed me with the precious Body and Blood of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this holy communion may not bring me condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation.
May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will. May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions. May it bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in power to do good. May it be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses, bodily and spiritual.
May it unite me more closely to Thee, the one true God and lead me safely through death to everlasting happiness with Thee. And I pray that Thou willest lead me, a sinner to the banquet where Thou with Thy Son and Holy Spirit, art true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to Thy saints.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
2. Prayer of St. John Chrysostom
We give Thee thanks, O most merciful Lord and Redeemer of our souls, for this day Thou hast made us worthy by means of these immortal and heavenly mysteries.
Direct our way; keep us in fear of Thee; guard our lives; and make our steps firm through the prayers and intercessions of the glorious and holy Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God, and above all the earth, Thy glory, now and forever and ever. Amen.
3. Domine Iesu Christe
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who according to the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, hast by Thy death given life unto the world, deliver me by Thy most sacred Body, which, I, unworthy, have presumed to receive, from all my iniquities and from every evil, and make me ever to hold fast to Thy commandments and suffer me never to be separated from Thee. Amen.
4. Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.Body of Christ, save me.Blood of Christ, inebriate me.Water from the side of Christ, wash me.Passion of Christ, strengthen me.O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.Separated from Thee let me never be.From the malignant enemy, defend me.At the hour of death, call me.
To come to Thee, bid me,That I may praise Thee in the companyOf Thy Saints, for all eternity.
5. Prayer to the Virgin Mary
O Mary, most holy Virgin and Mother, behold, I have received thy most beloved Son, Jesus Christ, whom thou concievedst in thy spotless womb, bore, nursed, and held with thy sweet embraces. Behold Him at whose sight thou willst rejoice and be filled with every delight.
With love I humbly return Him and offer Him to thee, to hold once more, to love with all thy heart, and to offer to the Holy Trinity as our supreme act of worship for thy honor and glory and for my good and the good of all the world.
Therefore I ask thee, most loving Mother, to ask God for forgiveness of all my sins, abundant graces to help me serve Him more faithfully, and for that final grace that I may praise Him with thee for ever and ever. Amen.d this post? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
The Meaning of Advent: Celebrate with Calendar, Candles, & Wreath
Enrich the spirit of your Christmas season by celebrating Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas; a time of penitence and hope. Calendars, colors & candles enrich the weeks leading up to the birth of Christ.
Each candle of the Advent Wreath marks one of the four Sundays of December during Advent as we anticipate Christmas with penitence, hope, and joy. | Source
The Christian holidays – holy days – we celebrate now are remnants of an entire year of events that were meant to help us feel the love of God every day of the year. Much of the meaning of Christmas was lost when people began to celebrate Christmas alone, without the preparation of Advent. More has been lost since Christmas, for many, became a just day off work and a time for buying gifts.
We can renew the Christmas spirit for ourselves, our families, and our loved ones. But we can't do it in a day. If we run around in the slush and snow buying gifts and trying to wrap up our work year, it will be hard to find deep joy of spirit at Christmas. Advent, you might say, is a way to give yourself a running start towards a wonderful Christmas.
By celebrating each day of Advent from the beginning of December, we can remind ourselves daily of the coming birth of Christ. I know how busy we all are. But just five minutes a day can bring us to the joy of Christmas and the hope of Christ. The key is not in how much time we take, but in the depth of our prayers, meditations, and feelings.
It may come as a surprise, but all Christians do not celebrate Christmas. The Puritans, for example, who settled New England starting in 1620 when they came over as Pilgrims on the Mayflower, celebrated the first Thanksgiving, but did not celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is not found in the Bible, and the Bible sets no date for the birth of Jesus. The Catholic Church selected December 25th to compete with pagan Roman holidays.
The Puritans sought purity and returned to the Bible, eliminating many Catholic expressions of Christian faith.
Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Lutherans generally celebrate Advent a four-week Advent. The Eastern Orthodox celebrate a similar time called the Nativity Fast, but it is longer, about 40 days. Most Protestant denominations pay little attention to Advent – but don't let that stop you!
Here are several ways to celebrate advent in just a few minutes a day:
- Open a window on an Advent Calendar
- Light an Advent Candle
- Take a moment to pray, especially together. If prayer feels awkward, just hold hands and bow your heads together for a moment in silence.
- Take a moment to share feelings about the meaning of Christmas.
- Take a moment to share gratitude for each other and God.
- Come together for dinner, or the main meal of your day (even if it's breakfast). If you don't pray already, give it a try. If you do, add a special thank-you to the prayer.
- Come back to this hub, and share it as an online Advent Calendar.
The traditional colors of Advent have changed over the centuries. The original color was purple, symbolizing penitence. In medieval times, the general emotional view of the Catholic church was that we were all sinners.
Repenting was the act of recognizing our sins. Offering acts of penance – such as wearing purple and saying special prayers – was asking God to forgive us.And when God forgives the world, Christ will return in the Second Coming, and the world will be saved forever from sin.
Christmas is a reminder not only that Christ came once, but also that he will come again. So, by wearing purple and holding a penitential attitude, Christians of the Middle Ages believed they were doing all they could to bring the Kingdom of God soon.
Blue for Hope
In the last couple hundred years, blue has become a common color of Advent. Why the change? Blue symbolizes hope. These days, most Christian traditions focus less on sin and more on faith.
So, wearing blue, we now wait in Hope for Our Lord's return. Wearing blue in Advent says, “We know you came once, as a babe and a human among us. We know you will come again to end the sin and suffering of the world.
We hope you will come soon.”
An advent wreath in the traditional Catholic colors. Most of Advent is purple for penitence, with a break in the third week for the rose light of joy. | Source
The third Sunday of Advent opens with a prayer that begins “rejoice.” To mark this joy, purple penitence and blue hope are replaced, for a day, with the rose light of joy. So the third candle in an Advent Wreath is often rose, instead of blue or purple, and rose vestments are worn in the church on this day.
More Advent Colors
Of course, most people think of green and red as Christmas colors. Many may not even know that Advent has its own colors, different from Christmas. As a result, as the streets and shop-windows get decked out for Christmas, many people think that green and red are advent colors.
Green is for eternal life, especially for the evergreens that keep their needles through cold northern winters. And red is for the blood of Christ.
The blood here symbolizing not death and sacrifice (as at the Easter crucifixion), but the living blood of Jesus, and the miracle of God being born as man.
More advent colors turn up from time to time. Last Sunday, my wife said the vestments at the local Episcopalian church were green on the first Sunday of Advent. That's not official!
The Lutherans of Germany bless us with the Advent Calendar, Advent Candles, and Advent Wreath. Starting in the early 1800s, German families began marking off the days of December in anticipation of Christmas.
Some lit a new candle each day, and some candles were put on wreaths. Some simply made chalk marks on their door, the way that we cross off days on a calendar.
Others would hang a religious picture on the wall each day.
The first known Advent calendar was handmade in 1851. If you want to make your own Advent Calendar, RandomCreative offers these instructions for making an Advent calendar that hold little gifts and is made on a cookie sheet.The first time I saw an Advent calendar was when my girlfriend's mother sent her a printed calendar made of paperboard. That was over 30 years ago, that girlfriend is now my wife, and we've gotten one almost every year since.
But my mother-in-law is getting old, and she didn't manage to send one this year. Maybe that's why I'm writing this article: I want to bring her generosity to the next generation and pass on these wonderful calendars to you.
Printed advent calendars, made on poster board with little windows that open to show cute pictures or Bible verses, were made popular by Gerhard Lang, who printed them in Munich from 1908 until the 1930s.
Printed Advent calendars were not available during World War II. After the war, Richard Sellmer of Stuttgart began sellling commercial Advent calendars around the world.
Other calendar printers have followed suit.
Today's printed advent calendars have a picture on a piece of cardstock and 24 windows that can be opened. Each window is numbered for a day of the month of December. Opening the window reveals a picture, a Bible verse, a poem, or a step in the story of the birth of Jesus. December 24th, Christmas Eve, usually shows a picture of the baby Jesus.
Some Advent calendars are religious, others are more secular, showing candy canes, snowmen, and gifts related to popular Christmas themes.
I'm building an online Advent calendar right in this article. Keep scrolling down. I'll be adding pictures all the way to Christmas!
The town hall of Hunfeld in Germany becomes a giant Advent calendar when dates are put in each window. | Source
An Advent Candle is a tall candle with 24 days marked off in even spaces. One segment is burned each night, often at dinnertime, then the candle is blown out.The number of the next day remains visible as the candle burns down, and people anticipate the coming of Christmas. Advent candles are most popular in European homes.
The candle may be placed in sprigs of evergreen, or in a simple candle holder.
This is the first Advent wreath, designed by Pastor Wichern. | Source
An Advent wreath is an evergreen wreath with candles in it. the candles mark either the four Sundays of Advent or all 28 days of the four weeks of Advent. The candles may be red, creating a red and green Christmas color set, or purple or blue. And the third candle may be rose, recognizing the third Sunday of Advent as a day of special joy.
The candles are not burned all the way down. You can tell which Sunday of Advent it is by the number of candles burning. And some wreaths have a fifth candle, usually a white one, to be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The circular or ring-shape of the wreath symbolizes eternal life, especially because it is evergreen. And the candles lit in winter represent the primal theme of many faiths, “even in darkness, there is light.” Christians remember that the Lord of the World was born, in legend, at the darkest time of the year.
It appears that the original Advent wreath was designed by Pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern for children at his mission school in Germany in the mid-1800s.
Legend has it that, all through December, the children were constantly badgering him with “Has Christmas come? Has Christmas come?” He build a wreath with small candles for each day and a big candle for each Sunday to keep the kids from pestering him!
For me, there is no better way to build the anticipation of Christmas than with Christmas music all month long. My wife and I agree – no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving! We don't want to spoil the joy of it. Most people think that Christmas music is stable, but, actually, it changes every 20 years or so, in a big way.
My wife and I don't agree on Christmas music, but that doesn't keep us from enjoying it together:
- She s a Renaissance Christmas CD, and I can't understand a word they are saying.
- I really an early American (early 1800s) Christmas CD, even though there's almost no mention of winter or cold.
- My wife s a New Orleans Jazz Christmas CD because she lived in New Orleans for a couple of years.
- I Bing Crosby and 1940s Christmas, because they were my mother's favorites, and that's how I remember her.
- We both really a capella Christmas carols.
We can enjoy each others favorites because we can enjoy their joy!
My own personal favorite Advent carol is Joy to the World. Each of the four verses shares a very special part of the meaning of Christ's coming into the world.
Advent begins four Sundays before the Sunday before Christmas. But, of course, Christmas falls on different days in different years. In 2012, Advent started on December 2nd. But the date can vary anywhere from November 27 to December 3, depending on what day of the week Christmas falls.
However it has become popular to celebrate Advent for the first 24 days of December, beginning December 1 and ending on December 24th, Christmas eve. Why? Because it's simpler!You can come right back here to this article to feel the spirit of Advent. I've started an Advent calendar with one photo for each Sunday and an image for Christmas Eve. You can help me grow the calendar until we have an image for each day.
If you have a favorite photo you want me to use, just say so in the Comments below. If it is your own, please give me permission to use it. If it is not, please make sure it meets HubPages requirements for posting. I'll add the beautiful images you propose, and we'll celebrate Advent together, day by day.
“Advent Sunday in Vaxholm church 2008” | SourceSourceMary's joy at becoming the Mother of God is our joy as well. The Christ Child is our own child, and a child shall lead the way. | SourceWinter in West Virginia. Evergreen in Winter and the seed-filled pine cone are promises of renewed life. | SourceSource