Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, or American Thanksgiving, as my Canadian daughter-in-law reminds me, has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1798, first by Presidential proclamation and, since 1942, as a federal holiday. Many people cite the origins of the observance in the New England pilgrims’ celebration of 1621, fewer know that Virginia colonists celebrated their own thanksgiving in 1619. 

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln used his thanksgiving proclamation to call on American people “with humble penitence…to fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation.” A prayer for healing divisions is a good prayer for us 160 years later. Ongoing political controversy exacerbated by the war in the Middle East continues to make gathering around the Thanksgiving table challenging.

Christians know that gathering around a common table in thanksgiving is healing. The cornerstone of Jesus’ ministry was table fellowship with people who were often unlikely dinner companions. Today we continue to gather week by week at the table of the Lord to make Eucharist, the Greek word for thanksgiving.

One parishioner described her family’s variant on the common invitation for people to name what they are thankful for. At their home, each guest is offered a slip of paper to write their personal thanksgivings, which are then gathered and redistributed. Before the meal begins, each person offers the thanksgiving they have drawn aloud. There is power, she observed, in speaking another’s thanksgiving. Offering their words of gratitude provides a brief opportunity to walk in their shoes and see the sometimes-surprising view of the world through their eyes, whether it is a young child speaking about joint replacement recovery or an elder giving thanks for a favorite doll.

Everything we have comes from God. Giving thanks is a healing act. I pray that God will not only help you name your own blessings, but also give you a “world-opening” opportunity to behold those of others. 

Happy Thanksgiving!