However, there was a big void in our celebration this year. This is the first Thanksgiving since my dad's passing and only the beginning of many gatherings in which his absence will be felt. I know that I'm not alone in this experience and many of you also deal with this mix of joy and sadness. My own grandparents spent decades struggling with the loss of my mom's brother who died as an eight-year-old along with two other boys who fell through the ice in Traverse City, MI. How can we say it's a wonderful life when life is full of tragedy?
This Sunday, December 1st, is the first Sunday of Advent in which we look with anticipation to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. Because of Christmas, we have a Savior and a Lord who never abandons us or leaves us to struggle through our pain on our own. We can experience forgiveness and a new life in Him and real hope no matter what life's circumstances may bring.
Our Advent sermon series this year will use the Christmas Classic "It's A Wonderful Life" to illustrate the themes of Advent: HOPE, LOVE, PEACE, and JOY. This week we'll talk about where we find real hope.
I know that many of you watch this film every year as a part of your Christmas tradition, but some of you may not have seen it. This Sunday evening, December 1st, at 6:00 pm, we'll watch it together in the Fellowship Hall at church. Come and enjoy this great film together - bring some snacks to share. By the way, be aware that the movie is a bit over 2 hours long, so we won't be finished until after 8:00 pm (which may influence your decision to bring younger kids on a school night).