Protocol No. 186/17
November 23, 2017 – Thanksgiving Day
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this day of Thanksgiving we are blessed as Orthodox Christians to offer gratitude to God, our Creator, who gives us life and has revealed His amazing and transforming love for us. He is the source and foundation of our thanksgiving, as we respond to His love and presence offering our praise and adoration. Our worship affirms the words of the Psalmist as we come into His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:2)
We offer to the world a witness of the true nature of thanksgiving. In the Holy Eucharist, identified by name as an act of thanksgiving, we show our gratitude through our faith in His grace and our obedience to His will. We approach and receive the most holy and sacred Body and Blood of Christ with contrite and gracious hearts, and we are filled with joy, hope, and assurance. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist in our communal worship reveals the transformative power of gratitude.
When we express our gratitude to God, when we offer Him thanksgiving and call upon His name, we show humanity the power of grace to turn despair into hope, to change fear into courage, to calm animosity with compassion, and heal what is broken. As we experience in the Holy Eucharist, our communion with God leads us to an awareness of the needs of others and how we might serve them as an expression of our gratitude to Him.
The Thanksgiving Day holiday is a unique time in this country for us to reflect on the role of thanksgiving in our faith and in our lives. It is a time to be thankful for the many blessings we have received as we are mindful of the One who blesses us with life and grace. It is a day to call all people to affirm the power of gratitude, a call we make consistently through our worship and service. It is a day to extend grace to more and more people so that thanksgiving may increase to the glory of God. (II Corinthians 4:15)
May the blessings of God’s grace be with you and your families as you gather on this day of Thanksgiving. May your hearts be filled with joy, and may this be a time of sharing and giving in gratitude so that lives will be transformed and many more will join us in proclaiming blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might to our God for ever and ever! (Revelation 7:12)
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America