Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Proper of the Day: Thanksgiving

In the Episcopal Church, Thanksgiving Day is a Major Feast and not simply a secular one. Today we pause to give thanks to God for all the good things God has done for us. I wonder how many people ever actually realize that when one gives thanks, one does so to the One from whom all things come in the first place? I suppose one can express gratitude generically, as in, "Isn't it great that we have all [insert whatever is pleasing at the moment]" without really considering where it comes from or what the best use of it all is. But that rings so narcissistically, so self-centeredly, because it almost sounds liken "We got ours."

Even today's First Lesson at Morning Prayer, repeated in the Eucharist in the RCL (but not the BCP) makes this point: the Israelites, when they come into their lands appointed for them, are to go to the Temple and offer first fruits back to God. The key phrase is right in the first verse: "When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you." They didn't take it, they didn't earn it; God gave it and is in fact still giving it - note the present perfect in the English. And today's Gospel is so apt (here I agree with the RCL choice): " You are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you....I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Jesus reminds us who will stuff ourselves with bread from the earth that no one lives by bread alone, that He is that which can and does satisfy our true hunger.

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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