The Gift of Gratitude

Amy Clemens

Read: Luke 2:8-20

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (v. 20)

Gratitude is the great attitude equalizer. When I look at each person, challenge, or development as part of God’s plan, I always find something to be grateful for, even if it’s just knowing I am not alone. My eyes are lifted up, away from myself and a perception of life that is too often tainted by the fall.

The shepherds experienced this gift of gratitude. Although a visit to the manger changed nothing about their difficult and disdained occupation, their heads were lifted by a revelation that God was among them, and they returned to shepherding, singing something akin to “Joy to the World.”

My own head is lifted today with the reminder that a new year on the Christian calendar began with Advent. With the fragrances of Thanksgiving still hanging in the air, I am launched into a new adventure of anticipation, even though my circumstances haven’t changed. God is with us! I am happy to linger here, but also to return to my daily life, remembering that God’s plans for the future are good too.

Celebrating the New Year according to the Christian calendar is delightfully countercultural. No fireworks at midnight. No post-holiday slump, weary of shopping or parties or return lines. Just a year that ends in gratitude and begins with the anticipation of God’s best plan ever, Jesus.

—Amy Clemens

Giver of good gifts, thank you for what you will do at the intersection of gratitude and Advent.