Collect for Thanksgiving Day (ACNA)
Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you for all your gifts so freely bestowed upon us; for life and health and safety; for strength to work and leisure to rest; for all that is beautiful in creation and in human life; but above all we thank you for our spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Though we do not traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving Day as a parish, it is nevertheless an important holiday filled with spiritual significance in the life and history of our nation. Every school child knows the story of the Pilgrims giving thanks to God after surviving their first year in the New World. But sadly, even as Americans who receive this as a part of cultural heritage, we too often loose sight of our need and opportunity to give thanks, and not just once a year but once a week, or even daily. The truth is, the Pilgrims weren't terribly inventive. The Church around the world has observed a day of Thanksgiving every week for 2000 years.
Each and every Sunday the Church gathers around the Eucharist (which in Greek means, thanksgiving). Every time we come together as a Body we give thanks to God for His work of creation and the sustaining of our lives, but above all we thank him for the redemption of the world by the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is no mistake. This eucharistic focus in worship is meant to teach us and sustain us.
It is meant to teach us that giving thanks is the default posture of the Christian. Everything we have we have received as a gift. And the right thing to do when you receive a gift is say thank you for it. So, weekly we pause to give thanks to God for all His gifts, so that we can remember to keep looking for those gifts as we go forward into the rest of our week. Gathering around Eucharist trains our eyes to look for new mercies each day, and respond to them with thanks.
And, weekly gathering for the Great Thanksgiving (as it was traditionally called) fuels and sustains us in this journey of grateful responsiveness. In this meal Christ feeds us. Just as physical food gives our bodies energy to go about our daily work, so too the spiritual food of Eucharist fuels our spirit to hunger and thirst for the gifts of God in our daily life.
So, this year as you gather with family, take time to thank God for his gifts, large and small. This Sunday, as you gather with the Family of God, take time to thank him for the same, and for his "inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ." And may both of these Eucharistic pauses in our daily routine fuel us to search out the daily mercies and blessings of God and inspire our response of daily gratitude to Him.