Liturgy Lesson: Thanksgiving

Liturgy Lesson: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day, established by the Continental Congress in the 18th century, is a day we traditionally gather to feast and remember the Lord’s mercy and blessing to us all. In the Church, we offer our thanksgiving more often. Called Holy Communion, Mass, the Lord’s Supper or Holy Eucharist (Greek: “Thanksgiving”), Anglican Christians have observed this holiday with special prayers and lessons for the Eucharist celebrated that day. Rightly, Christian thanksgiving should focus on this service—which we hold at All Saints on Thanksgiving Eve. This is a very proper observance, since the sacrament of Holy Communion was ordained, as the Catechism says, “for a continual remembrance of His death and the benefits which we receive thereby.” But it’s more than a memorial meal. St. Paul wrote, by God the Holy Ghost, in 1 Cor 10:16, that it’s actually koinonia—partnership, as at the altar of sacrifice, in the Lord’s Blood and Body. This is one of the deepest mysteries of the Gospel—imparting Jesus’ life itself to our spirits. It is also a means we confess Christ to the World, while honoring Him by “showing forth His death until He come.” And we should partake in it as often as we have opportunity, in obedience to His command, and to edify ourselves and resist sin. With good reason, the ancient Church celebrated daily—they were thankful they had survived another day—and needed as much of Christ’s nature as they could get to face the new day.Consequently, they always linked thanksgiving with Communion. Real thanksgiving, then, is given to God our Father, thanking Him for His provision and asking for more of Him...less of us.

Collect for Thanksgiving Day

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Collect for Thanksgiving Day, 1928 BCP, p. 265)

 

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