The Pastor's Peace - November, 2009
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Thanksgiving is a holiday that is celebrated in the U.S. and in Canada, as well. It is a holiday about turkey (or tofurkey, if you prefer), family, travel, and, of course, asking what we are thankful for. We usually ask that of ourselves and family members during Thanksgiving, but is once a year enough for such a question, and do we really recognize that thankfulness should be the reason for the season. The idea of a Thanksgiving service historically has nothing to do with turkey, or family, or really even Pilgrims. Services of Thanksgiving were not big meals but rather holy services giving thanks to God. Usually people were thankful for still being alive, or perhaps for a victory over an enemy, or for some other fairly monumental thing. One of the first such religious services in the United States was performed not by the Pilgrims, but rather by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. When he and his men arrived in what is now St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, he immediately led a service of Thanksgiving for their safe arrival in the New World.
Don’t get me wrong; there were Pilgrims in Plymouth Bay who in 1623 did celebrate a successful harvest with a Thanksgiving service during their annual festival. There was a feast of some sort, probably not turkey, and I’m sure there were family members, and I’m sure it was a good time. The point is, however, that the food, folks, and fun were secondary to the thankfulness - the idea that we should thank God for what we have in our life. This is an idea older than the Pilgrims, and one that has been central to the Christian church from its beginning. The Eucharist, or Communion, has at its heart a sense of thankfulness.
The word comes from the Greek verb eucharistéō, which means to give thanks. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we not only come into contact with the Divine, but we do it with hearts that are thankful for salvation, and thankful for all that is good in the world.

Sometimes it is difficult to be thankful. Sometimes we have suffered a tremendous hardship, and that burden weighs so heavily that we can’t see anything else. In such times it is important to remember that no matter what the world has subjected us to, we are children of God, we are loved by God, and we are worthy and saved. Such things might not seem like much, but they can never be taken away; God will always be with us no matter what. This Thanksgiving, help each other to remember these seemingly small facts. Help each other to see all the good and beauty in the world that exists despite the evil and ugliness. Help each other to know and to be thankful for God’s love and the love of one another. Do this, and you will know the true meaning of Thanksgiving; you will have joy and hope in your heart. It won’t matter if the upcoming Christmas tree might be a little bare, it won’t matter if someone isn’t home this year, and it won’t even matter if the tofurkey is burnt. We will just be thankful for what we have. Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,

Peace, Blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Brian