Thanksgiving Day November 22, 2018

The Rev. Janet Campbell

THANKSGIVING DAY Year B

Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 2:1-7;

Matthew 6:25-33

 

Christ Episcopal Church

Tacoma, Washington

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Rev. Janet Campbell

 

 

Eucharist,

from the Greek “eucharistia,”

names the holy meal

we celebrate at the altar . . .

 

It means “thanksgiving.”

 

The prayer we pray

over the bread and wine

we offer at the altar

is called

The Great Thanksgiving,

The Great Eucharistia.

 

Fundamental

to the Christian faith and life

is this meal,

this weekly feast of gratitude,

 

shaping a way of being,

the giving of thanks

in every area of our life,

of which the Eucharist

is the model.

 

 

In thanksgiving,

we bring to the altar

our bread and wine,

fruits of field and vineyard,

gifts of the earth

and work of human hands.

 

In thanksgiving,

we offer them to God

who gave them to us

in the first place.

 

In thanksgiving,

we ask God’s blessing on them,

that they may be given to us again,

 

now for us

Christ’s Body and Blood,

Christ’s very life,

our very life.

 

All are invited to this holy meal,

not one is left out,

and to each partaker

God gives in equal measure . . .

 

gives in equal measure,

inviting all

to take and eat,

to take and drink,

what is given

for there is enough

for everyone . . .

 

 

Inviting us to gratitude

for what we have received . . .

 

reminding us

that the way of being a Christian

in the world

is this same thankful way of

receiving and giving

giving and receiving,

receiving and giving . . .

Eucharist.

 

 

So we exist

in a condition of gratitude,

 

grateful for the

“fruits of the earth in their season

and for the labors of those who harvest them,”

as we prayed at the beginning

of our liturgy.

 

grateful even more

for the risen life of Christ

into which we are incorporated at baptism,

 

grateful for the love and grace

God has poured into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit,

 

 

grateful for the nearness

of God’s kingdom

of justice and peace,

 

in which,

in transformed life,

we already dwell.

 

 

Jesus said,

“I tell you,

do not worry about your life,

what you will eat or what you will drink,

or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food,

and the body more than clothing?”

 

Indeed,

life is so much more:

 

the beauty and wonder

of God with us

in compassion and mercy

in all the times of our lives,

 

the beauty and wonder

of lasting friendships

and lifelong loves,

of blessed solitude and joyful company,

of the mystery in the face of a newborn baby.

 

Life is

the beauty and wonder

of God’s marvelous creation

and all its myriad surprises,

and the sunrise and sunset

and the nighttime sky,

the vast and rolling oceans . . .

 

the beauty and wonder

of music and sculpture and paintings,

poetry and literature . . .

 

all freely given,

like the Eucharistic food,

for all to enjoy.

 

 

“Therefore,” Jesus said,

“do not worry, saying, `What will we eat?’

or `What will we drink?’ or `What will we wear?’

. . .  indeed your heavenly Father knows

that you need all these things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God

and God’s righteousness,

and all these things will be given to you as well.”

 

The world as God intended it

and created it

was for the flourishing of all.

 

 

In that world,

in God’s economy,

gratitude and generosity

are two sides

of the same coin,

 

a life of grateful receiving

leading to generous giving,

generous giving

leading to grateful receiving,

 

so that the abundance

of that world,

like the abundance of the Eucharist,

is shared among all.

 

But in the world

as we human beings

have made it,

in our economy,

 

there are many

for whom life is little else but worry:

worry

about food,

about clothing,

about safety,

about shelter,

about utilities,

about health care,

medications,

about a gift for a child at Christmas . . .

 

 

worry

about

being received by others

with respect,

being treated by others

with dignity,

being valued by others.

 

 

In that same prayer

we prayed at the beginning of the liturgy,

we invited God to use us

to ease those worries . . .

to restore the balance

of God’s economy,

 

invited God to

“make us faithful stewards of [God’s] great bounty,

for the provision of our necessities

and the relief of all who are in need . . .”

 

For God knows the needs

of all God’s children,

and how it is

that their needs will be satisfied . . .

 

through Eucharistic sharing,

thankful sharing,

of God’s gifts with and among all.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Day,

this one-day American feast of plenty,

invites

gratitude

for a bountiful harvest

and for the beauty of this good country,

our native land . .

 

gratitude

for the aspirational values

of a land of liberty, opportunity and justice

for all.

 

It should also

invite repentance

for how we have fallen short

of that great vision . . .

 

from the very beginning

of our arrival

on these shores . . .

 

from the taking of this land

from its original inhabitants

and the slaughter

of its first native peoples,

 

to the building of its prosperity

on the institution of slavery

and the suffering of African peoples,

 

to the internment of Japanese Americans

during World War II,
to the exploitation of women,

discrimination against LGBTQ and non-binary persons,

hatred of Jews and Muslims,

fear of immigrants,

degrading of the environment . . .

 

Racism, intolerance, injustice, exploitation,

a dark and bloody stream,

run through human history,

run through our history.

 

Jesus spent his life,

and gave his life,

for the righting

of such wrongs,

for the restoration of God’s intent,

God’s economy . . .

 

a way of being motivated

not by the drive for profit and power,

self-serving using and getting,

 

but motivated

by gratitude,

by the life-creating dynamic

of giving and receiving

receiving and giving . . .

 

 

This thanksgiving meal,

this Eucharist we celebrate,

each Eucharist we celebrate,

is the ongoing continuation

of Jesus’ self-giving

for the life of the world.

 

Receiving him

in the consecrated bread and wine,

we become what we receive,

Christ given for the world.

 

Today,

even as we give thanks

for the beauty and wonder of this life,

for the bounty and promise of this country,

 

even as we lament

the sins of our past and present,

 

may we be renewed

in Eucharistic living,

in our determination

to strive for God’s kingdom . . .

to right what is wrong,

to heal what is wounded,

to lift up what has fallen,

 

may we be drawn

by our participation in this Eucharist

ever more deeply

into the life-giving way

of gratitude.

 

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