Letter from the Rector: Reflecting on Thanksgiving 2020
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
ALMIGHTY AND GRACIOUS FATHER, WE GIVE YOU THANKS FOR THE FRUITS OF THE EARTH IN THEIR SEASON AND FOR THE LABORS OF THOSE WHO HARVEST THEM. MAKE US, WE PRAY, FAITHFUL STEWARDS OF YOUR GREAT BOUNTY, FOR THE PROVISION OF OUR NECESSITIES AND THE RELIEF OF ALL WHO ARE IN NEED, TO THE GLORY OF YOUR NAME, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, WHO LIVES AND REIGNS WITH YOU AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD, NOW AND FOREVER. AMEN.
Dear siblings in Christ,
To be clear, Thanksgiving is NOT a liturgical feast. Of course, there are no references to Thanksgiving (Canadian or American) in Holy Scripture, nor are there churches, hymns, or iconography dedicated to Thanksgiving as a theological concept. Despite that, Thanksgiving is included in the Book of Common Prayer as a lesser feast with its own Collect, readings, and instruction. In the Collect above, we ask God to make us “faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need.” That certainly sounds needed right about now, does it not?
Growing up in New England, our celebration of Thanksgiving remained closely tied to the feast’s “traditional" imagery. I vividly recall reenacting "the first Thanksgiving" as a child, complete with costumes and roles assigned long beforehand. For many years, my stated job was to build a model house from Lincoln Logs to be used as the centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner. As an adult, I wonder what Native people (past, present, and future) might think about these depictions: the story our depictions attempt to tell … and how that story relates to what Native people would like us to know.
Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is of God. There is deep import and even beauty in the act of gathering loved ones (related and unrelated) together for no other reason than gratitude for the abundance of the harvest given to us by God in anticipation of the long and cold winter months ahead.
In the popular TV show Game of Thrones, the characters are apt to ominously state that “winter is coming” as they prepare for challenging times. Let me be clear, winter has been here for some time. We’ve been through some long “winter" months as of late in 2020, and it looks as if there will be more on the horizon during this pandemic.
This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for all God has given us. May we see with greater clarity God’s hand at work around us, and then let’s ask God to help us be “faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need.”
To that end, I invite you to a live Compline via Zoom on Wednesday evening, November 25, at 7 pm. Just like on the night of the election, we will assign roles and pray together. I hope and pray you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.