My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΙΑ – ΘΕΙΑ ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΙΑ – EUCHARIST
"Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ…" (Ephesians 5:20).
Greek: "Ευχαριστούντες πάντοτε υπέρ πάντων έν ονόματι
τού Κυρίου ημών Ιησού Χριστού τώ Θεώ καί πατρί…" (Εφεσίους ε΄ 20).
In the gospel according to the Evangelist Luke we are told of the miracle of the cleansing and healing of the Ten Lepers. "And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And ONE OF THEM, RETURNED, AND WITH A LOUD VOICE 18GLORIFIED GOD, AND FELL DOWN ON HIS FACE AT HIS FEET, GIVING THANKS. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘WERE THRER NOT TEN CLEANSED? BUT WHERE ARE THE NINE? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:13-18).
Offering thaksgiving to our Merciful God ought to be not a once a year act but a constant and heartfelt practice done daily. Every prayer that we offer should b a prayer of thanksgiving, of gratitude for God’s many blessings which sadly enough are all too easily taken for granted or forgotten. Saint John Chrysostom offered this contrite prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ:
O Lord my God, Great, and Glorious Creator of all things visible and invisible; You Who faithfully keep Your covenant and Your mercy with those who love You and observe Your Commandments; I thank You now and always for all the visible and invisible blessings which You have bestowed for all the visible and invisible blessings which You have bestowed upon me. I praise, glorify and magnify You, up to the present time, for in accepting me from my mother’s womb and providing for me out of Your abundant goodness and love for mankind. YOu have providentially protected and guided me in a holy manner, and thus Your rich mercy and compassion has been wonderfully demonstrated in me throughout my life. You did not overlook my lowliness because of my unworthiness and sinfulness, nor did You cease to help me and provide for me because of Your lovingkindness and compassion. Do not forsake me then, O my God, even until my advanced and old age… FOR EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT IS FROM ABOVE, COMING FROM YOU, THE FATHER OF LIGHTS… Accept this brief confession and my repentance as You accepted the gratitude of the one thief while on the Cross. Accept this prayer, the fruit of my lips, as a living sacrifice, as fragrant and pleasing offering. Anen.
The observence of the Thanksgiving celebration, an American tradition, is wonderful and most meaningful for the devout and believing people who attribute all good things and blessing which they receive throughout their lifetime to the generosity and love of our Most Gracious God. The pilgrims who celebrated the first thanksgiving were Christian men and women who surived the dificult journey crossing a very dangerous ocean, illnesses, death, suffering, hunger, and other threats. They had no difficulty attributing their survival to the help of God Whom they loved. Therefore, they offered their thanks not to an abstract deity or to themselves, but to their heavenly Father and Creator. The pilgrims did not take anything for granted.
It is most important, however, not to allow our current materialistic, hedonistic, and egocentric society to reduce the meaning of this most spiritually uplifting Christian tradition to a day of glutony, entertainment, leisure and unthankfulness. It is not accidental but a deliberate effort to turn every good and major Christian holy day to a paganistic exercise, e.g., Thanksgiving, Christmas, Pascha or celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ etc. and to reduced them to a meaningless and superficial fastival. This Neo-paganistic movement has systematically attacked Christianity for years and with the intent to destroy all positive and good Christian inluence in the world. Under communism Christmas was reduced to a winter holiday and was devoid of the celebration of Christ’s Nativity. In our American society the Thanksiving Day has, for many, become "Turkey day." Christmas is no longer the observence and celebration of Christ’s birth but of consumerism, not a day in church worshipping and thanking God, but a day of exchanging gifts and thanking eachother for the gifts. Pascha ("Easter") the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the day we glorify God for our salvation, to the day of the "Easter bunny," and Christian children chasing to find Easter eggs around the garden.
The direct assault on all the major Christian holy days is real and has had a devasting effect on our Christian Faith and Tradition. Orthodox Christians must fight back and refused to fall prey to paganism and hedonism. Our Christian celebrations are always to directed to our Most Loving God and Father and not to us. Thanksgiving Day is a day when we concentrate in our devotion to Him Who has given us everything that we as humans need, "FOR EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT IS FROM ABOVE, COMING FROM HIM, THE FATHER OF LIGHTS."
May our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ bless all of you, our country, and the world with peace, love, kindness, and enlightenment. Saint John Chrysostom’s brief but solemn prayer was: "GLORY BE TO GOD, FOR ALL THINGS!"
HAPPY, SAFE, AND BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO ALL!
+ Father George, Presbytera Elaine, Mariam and Stefan