The origins of Thanksgiving can be traced to the early seventeenth century, when pilgrims commemorated a good harvest and safe passage to the New World. They were followed years layer by those escaping persecution for their religious beliefs, who came to a country rich in resources and opportunity. The hope which carried them over remains today: to live in freedom, and by hard work to make a better future for yourself and your family. 

The author Bill Bryson humorously praised Thanksgiving as being “a great holiday because you don’t have to give gifts or send cards or do anything but eat.” Thanksgiving usually reunites family members who live apart. This year, because of Covid, fewer families will gather. It will be telephone calls and Zoom meetings instead, and more leftover turkey than usual.

Christians relate easily to Thanksgiving, because our life is a gift from God, and thanksgiving represents our natural response to this gift. On a personal note, the older I get, the more I learn to give thanks for both the good and the bad, and for the grace of God.

Thanksgiving is central to our life as a worshiping community. The Greek word Eucharistia, from which we derive the word Eucharist, means Thanksgiving. We follow the command of Jesus to remember him in this way, by gathering as brothers and sisters around the Lord’s table, and partaking in a sharing of bread, which he calls his body, and wine, which he calls his blood. The Eucharist is called a sacrament, being an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. It is both a simple and yet deeply mysterious act.

Every time we receive the Eucharist, we are looking forward to the return of Jesus, who will come in great glory to gather up his faithful at the end of time. On Thursday, whether you are at home alone or with family, take time to give thanks for the gift of life and to count the blessings you have received. Light a candle; say a prayer. May God bless you richly as you journey on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Father David

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