On Thanksgiving

You crown the year with your goodness, *

and your paths overflow with plenty.

May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing, *

and the hills be clothed with joy.

(Psalm 65:12-13)

I most recently preached about this Psalm at a wedding. It is a harvest song, and it is also appointed for Thanksgiving Day. It points us to the staggering abundance of creation, and to God the “giver of every good and perfect gift.”

Thanksgiving is, for many of us, the last serious observance of Sabbath. Like the weekly Sabbath called for in the Torah, it is a time to pause and worship, to give thanks for the God of grace, in whom we live and move and have our being. Creation is itself a grace. So is the sanctifying gift of God’s Spirit, which restores our broken fellowship with God and each other.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for life and freedom, for time and food, for family and friends.

Like many congregations, ours will celebrate the Eucharist today. Eucharist itself means thanksgiving. It is the “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”

Christians have been celebrating a thanksgiving meal for nearly two thousand years, at least weekly, and in many cases daily. The prayer always retells the story of the Last Supper and culminates in the Lord’s Prayer and the breaking of the bread. Typically, we also give thanks for creation, for the covenant with Israel, and above all for the Word made flesh, Jesus, God’s Son.

The Eucharist points us to the sacred dimension of all meals. From the Thanksgiving Day, with its rituals sacred and profane, to bread broken with friends of any faith or none. Food is sacred, because life is sacred, and the gift of God.

And the Eucharist invites us in particular to forsake privilege, to receive everything as a gift from God’s wide open hands. For as Christians, we remember a costly love. A love that sought us out when we were far from God. A love that impels us to share what we have and call no one a stranger.

For if all is gift, nothing is possession.

It comes as manna from above.

To be received with thanks and shared with others.

The Rev. Bill Carroll serves as Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, Ohio. His parish blog is at here

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