This is the week. Thanksgiving, celebrated across America.
If we spoke Greek, it would be Eucharist day. Eucharisto as modern Greeks say.
How and to what or whom do we offer this Thanksgiving? As our society moves away from its roots, from a knowledge of and dependence on God, I wonder: How and to what or whom do we offer this Thanksgiving?
Is it to ourselves, for providing well?
Jimmy Stewart, in the movie Shenandoah, gave a very grudging prayer:
Do we give thanks to the state, for a peaceful place to reside and rule of law over brute strength? (And how is that working?)
OR is the very capacity for being thankful slipping away? Are we moving steadily from thankfulness and gratitude for the abilities to use our talents to provide and receive blessing from so doing, to a national sense of entitlement?
This is not a new phenomenon: Jesus illustrated it in the parable of the 10 lepers found in Luke 17: 11-19. Only one returned to thank Him for healing and him a foreigner.
"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan."
It is to teach thankfulness that Jesus instituted a feast of thanksgiving, called the Eucharist.
It was in the same vein that leaders of our country in years past deemed it appropriate to declare a national day of Thanksgiving.
Is not the very act of giving thanks an act of worship—a grateful acknowledgement of some provision or kindness—an act ascribing esteem to the source of the blessing? So it is to the one(s) who prepare the "thanksgiving" meal, or to the one(s) who make possible and available to us shelter, security and the very provisions we will eat. And are we not thankful for the companionship we share? The very root of the word "companion" is "the one you eat bread with".
Turning again to the parable: Only the foreigner is grateful for the GRACE received. The others looked solely for the BENEFITS, yet in doing so missed out on the greatest one. For to be truly healed, Jesus knows we must be thankful. The person who makes such acknowledgement experiences a salvation that goes beyond the merely physical cure. It is a reorientation of the inner life. Of such is the celebration of Thanksgiving, hopefully not just once a year but a growing center in our thoughts and actions.
Thanks be to God!