The Great Thanksgiving

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes

Dear Christ Church,

In our church, every Sunday is Thanksgiving. At the heart of our weekly family meal, Holy Eucharist, is a section of prayer called “The Great Thanksgiving,” where we express our gratitude for God’s creation, redemption, and sanctification. Alexander Schmemann, writing about Holy Eucharist, reminds us that “If the Church is in Christ, its initial act is always the act of thanksgiving, of returning the world to God.” I love that phrasing, “returning the world to God,” which the priest demonstrates by holding the offerings of the people and the bread and the wine heavenward, “up” to God.

During different seasons of life it can be harder or easier to live with gratitude. During times of loss or trial, a thankful heart is not usually our default. We might feel like it’s dishonest or fake or “Pollyanna-ish” during times of grief. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, difficult times are when gratitude is not only most important, but most gritty and real. To stand in the face of adversity and say “thank you” for anything good we can find, this is an act of holy defiance. Catholic theologian Mary Jo Leddy writes that “Gratitude does not dispel the mystery of suffering and evil in the world; it may even deepen it.”

I am still learning to live this myself. One of the reasons I am grateful for our liturgy, prayed together as the body of Christ each week, is that I can be carried along by you during weeks that I can’t find my own words, and you can be carried by me and the rest of our congregation. Together, we give thanks at the Table of our Lord.

The Next Two Sundays. This Sunday we will conclude our two-year process of Vocational Commissionings, with a focus on anyone working in science and technology related fields. If that’s you, come join us so that we can bless you! The following Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, my personal favorite of all the church seasons. During Advent, Fr. Matt and I will be preaching a four-week series on sin, what it is, why we need to talk about it, and the hope we have in Christ.