Why Does Christmas Come After Thanksgiving?

What is the point of Christmas? The obvious point of Thanksgiving is — well, giving thanks. The real point of Christmas, perhaps not so obvious, is hope. And the two are quietly connected. It’s hard to go all-in experiencing hope at Christmas if you haven’t first given thanks.

Giving thanks adjusts our perspective. Giving thanks nudges us to take our eyes off chaos and crisis in order to count our blessings. Giving thanks reminds us that we have needs and opens our eyes as to how many of those needs have been met. Giving thanks shifts, even enlarges our view — to focus on the Giver.

Thanksgiving is preparation for the Hope of Christmas. Lifting our eyes to the Giver in November primes our hearts for the greatest gift of Christmas in December. When my kids were little — and Christmas in their eyes was all about the presents — I tried shifting their focus a little, making a big banner for our front door with a glittery package and the words, “The first gift of Christmas was wrapped in swaddling clothes.”

If Thanksgiving points us to the Giver, then Christmas points us to our greatest need fulfilled. The perfect God, who delights to draw us near and give us what we need, can only dwell with perfect people. While He first created a perfect world, people have rebelled against Him and railed against each other. There has never been a perfect person, except for Jesus — the first Christmas gift, born in a stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes. He alone lived a perfect life and revealed the depth of the Giver’s love for us. His birth at Christmas was His first step toward the cross. There He laid down His perfect life for you and me, taking our imperfections on Himself. Every shameful thought, ugly word and evil action — past present and future — was hung on His shoulders as He hung on the cross. When He died, all of that died, too. When He walked out of the grave alive 3 days later, the hope of new life came out with Him…available to anyone who believes this truth. While fully God and fully man, Jesus conquered death. Since you and I are made in God’s image, Jesus conquered death for us, too. All that is left is for you and me to thank Him for taking our imperfections and offering us the hope of eternal life with Him.

Can you envision living forever in a place of unimaginable beauty, in the presence of the perfect God, the abundant Giver, who loved you enough to give His own life for you? Can you envision living forever with no fears, no tears, no pain, no sickness, no suffering, no death? Can you envision living forever with community and unity, with worthy purpose and passion, with every need fulfilled? Can you envision living forever experiencing perfect peace, joy and soul-satisfying love? THIS is the future for every person who believes in Jesus as God and Savior. THIS is the Hope of Christmas…and what our hearts were prepared for at Thanksgiving.

May the Christ of Christmas and the cross enable you to experience great joy as we celebrate the greatest Hope arriving on earth.

Happy Advent. Merry Christmas.

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