November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In his book The Attitude Of Gratitude, James Merritt reflected on 1 Thes 5:18 with a story about the famous and successful author Rudyard Kipling:

A newspaper reporter came up to him once and said, “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over $100 a word.” Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter cynically reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a $100 bill Mr. Kipling. Now you give me one of your $100 words.”

Rudyard Kipling looked at that $100 bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.”

Well the word “thanks” is certainly a $100 word. In fact, I would say it is more like a million dollar word. That is one word that is too seldom heard, too rarely spoken, and too often forgotten.

It might only have six letters, but it gets across a point that very few other words are capable of achieving. It’s a word that selflessly conveys appreciation for what one person in a relationship has done for the other. As we reflect upon this simple word, gratitude should arise out of our relationship with God because He has given us so much. He cares for us, provides for us, and protects us. We have food on the table, good homes, good times, love, and health. We have tasted the pleasures and joys of life because he is our heavenly Father who loves us and has mercy on us.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures (James 1:17-18).

If, for some reasons, you do not consider yourself to be among the fortunate or lucky or blessed, then just turn on the news and see what is happening in the world. Violence, shootings, riots, injustice…. Haitians who lost everything in a Tuesday earthquake borrowed clothes to be able to go to church on Sunday where they offered thanks to God. After priests and bishops were martyred in front of their churches, Iraqi Christians continued to show up each Sunday and feast day to offer their thanks to God. And if you still are not convinced about God’s blessings in your life for which you can be grateful, then go to any hospital and walk through the units where you will see suffering and grief and misery in its fullness. We have much to be thankful for.

It is often easier to be thankful when everything is perfect and well. A question that rises now in my mind is will we still be thankful even in times:
• when we experience sickness and continuing ill health?
• when we have to lay to rest a loved one whom we will miss very much?
• when we have to face the indignity and the worry of unemployment?
• when we are overwhelmed with worry and are depressed about the way life is turning out?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:2-5).

Today as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, I encourage you to join me in giving thanks to God for his love, forgiveness, and the gift of eternal life. As we move on with our day, let us all recognize and remember that God is always at work in our lives, giving us in abundance what we need from day to day; it is only up to us to recognize this and convey our appreciation to him. Today we say, “Thanks.”

I praise You, O God of our fathers, I hymn You, I bless You,
I give thanks to You for your great and tender mercy.
To You I flee, O merciful and mighty God.
Shine into my heart with the True Sun of your righteousness.
Enlighten my mind and guard all my senses,
that from this time on I may walk uprightly and keep Your commandments,
and finally may attain unto all fullness of life, found only in You,
who are the source of life and the light of all.
For You are my God, and to You, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be ascribed glory, now and forever and ever. Amen.

I give thanks on this day for all of you who support me and assist me in ministering to our faithful at St. Sophia. I am very proud and happy to serve you as your priest. Please remember in the midst of your celebrations to take a moment and offer your own prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God.

I wish every one of you a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving Feast,
Fr. Pavlo

by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.