Thanksgiving Reflection (2023)

This morning we gather and see on the horizon a day set aside by our nation, Thanksgiving Day. Some of us may be traveling, others may be welcoming guests and family to our homes. This day has come to mean a myriad of different things for different people. In its simplest form, for many it has become simply a time to enjoy a turkey dinner and prepare for the upcoming holiday. For others, this day has become a time to be with family and friends or watch a favorite sport. And yet for others, this day, like many holidays, is a day in which we long for loved ones who are no longer with us.

Many take a few moments to think about or verbalize their thanks for that which they have or experienced during the past year. Isn’t this how we idealize the gathering of the pilgrims on Thanksgiving. They felt so blessed that they had survived and were learning how to thrive in a newly settled land. Historically, we know that this is not exactly what transpired, but it seems comfortable to idealize that time in history.

As Orthodox Christians, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated every time we gather for the Divine Liturgy. Liturgy focuses on our giving thanks to our Lord for that with which He has blessed us and helped us accomplish. The Liturgy, the Eucharistic gathering is literally the Liturgy of Thanksgiving providing us the opportunity to gather as community to worship, give thanks to the Lord, and take the gifts He has given us and through our hard work return them back to Him as an offering. We pray, “Your own of Your own, we offer to you, in all and for all.” Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of bread and wine made from the wheat and grapes God provided for us, are changed into the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which we receive as the Divine Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day was established to encourage people to gather and give thanks for that which they have and share. The Eucharist is our weekly reminder that we are called to give thanks to God for the blessings we share; for God’s presence among us and His never-ending love for us. As we gathering throughout the year for the Eucharist we celebrate a Divine Thanksgiving.

May you always enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving.