The Thanksgiving holiday comes around only once a year. Here at Grace Lutheran Church, however, we don’t wait until November to give thanks. Every Sunday Morning and on each church holiday we celebrate the Eucharist. Eucharist is the ecclesiastical word for thanksgiving, sometimes rendered the Great Thanksgiving or simply communion.
It starts off with the Christ Greeting, “The Lord be with you,” and an invitation to put our hearts into it. Then the pastor sings or says “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” The congregation responds in agreement, “It is right to give our thanks and praise.”
The pastor then agrees with the people, “It is indeed right . . . that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise.” But note that the thanks and praise is not to each other but it is directed to God. The first thing we give thanks for is not for family, nor country, nor the beauty of the world around us, but to God and for the savings actions of Christ Jesus.
This Christ-centered focus is the crux of our thanks giving. Each time we come together we give thanks for the work of Christ in our midst in making us God’s people, and in the world for his work for us, also in the church or the work of the Holying Spirit to up-build and sustain us.
One Eucharistic option we will use this November is Prayer VII, ELW p 67. This prayer specifically notes the work of God in creation:
You formed the earth from chaos;
you circled the globe with air;
you created fire for warmth and light
you nourish the lands with water.
You molded us in your image,
and with mercy higher than the mountains,
with grace deeper than the seas,
you blessed the Israelites
and cherished them as your own.
That also we, estranged and dying,
might be adopted to live in your Spirit,
you called to us through the life and death of Jesus
These reminders in our Great Thanksgiving prayer remind us that God in Christ Jesus is working through the power of the Holying Spirit within us. We live on a planet that was created as a home for humanity. As we live and grow in this world it is proper for us to remember the work of our creating God in our lives and to bring to our lips the thanks due God’s name. Moreover, God is not a dispassionate force hidden off in the distances of the universe, but a loving and sustaining God who touches our lives daily with the gifts of creation, salvation and enlightenment. God’s creative work is complimented with God’s sustaining work which does not leave us alone, but builds us up, loves us dearly and brings us together as God’s people to celebrate and give thanks for all the grace and mercy around us in countless ways.