We celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. It is associated with the first thanksgiving that our forefathers celebrated with the native Americans after surviving the first year of settlement in the New World. With the help of the Native Americans the first settlers learned how to plant corn or maize, squash and other food crops that easily grow in this land. In a spirit of friendship the natives and the new settlers feasted together with the fruits of the land as well as the meat of the forest. The shared meal was a symbol of the gratitude the first settlers had for surviving the harsh winter, the adjustment of living in a strange environment and for finding freedom in a new land.
Eating is not just an activity to satisfy our physical hunger, it also allows us to soak up the energy captured by the plants in its tissues. The plants are specially adapted to utilize the energy from the sun to convert the elements of water and carbon dioxide from the air through the process of photosynthesis to produce its own food. The main product, carbohydrates, is then circulated throughout the plant to nourish the plant and produce the tissues that we eat as food. Another product of photosynthesis is oxygen. It is a by-product because the main product is carbohydrates. This by-product, which is given off by the plants, serves our vital need for respiration. We need oxygen from the air we breathe to enter into various chemical reactions inside our body necessary to maintain life. In the process of respiration, we produce carbon dioxide, which we exhale into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide is then used by the plants for photosynthesis, thus allowing the cycle to continue, a cycle which pictures the mutual dependence of plants and animals.
It only takes us a few minutes to eat what took days and months and sometimes years for the plant to produce the leaf, stem, flower, fruit or seed that we eat. As we eat, let us give thanks for the wonderful process of plant growth from the seed germination to growing its various plant parts to the harvest of the leaf, fruit or stem which we then eat. Let us consecrate the act of eating as a prayer of thanksgiving just as the poet, Joyce Kilmer , in his poem “Trees” speaks of the tree as looking at God in prayer.
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts its leafy arms to pray.
Eating as a communal activity was practiced by our Lord, Jesus, as described in the scriptures. He sat to eat with his disciples, He fed the multitude who had come to hear Him talk with five loaves of bread and two fishes. On the night before He suffered to be crucified, He ate His last supper with His disciples. At this sacred feast, He instituted the Holy Eucharist, a sacrament whereby Christ’s special blessings are given to us through partaking of the consecrated host and wine. Once again, we see that the host is made of wheat, a plant whose fruits, (grains), are ground into flour to be made into the wafer that we eat during communion. The wine comes from grapes, crushed to extract its juice to be made into wine. Our token of Christ’s life-giving gifts come from plants.
We gather as family members to feast together to thank God for the wonderful blessing we received during the year. Even the trials and tribulations we encountered can be seen as blessings. They make us humble, they purify our hearts and cleanse our souls so we can get rid of some back log of negative consequences accumulated from the past lives or even from this life.
Let us give thanks to each member of the family, our companions in this life’s journey. We have been together through many lives playing various roles, sometimes as brother, sister, husband, wife or father or mother. Each has a lesson to teach, each has a lesson to learn from each other. We forgive others who may have inflicted pain and suffering to us just as the Lord uttered from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Some are difficult to get along but let’s love them anyway. Let us pray that we accept each member of the family with love as fellow workers in God’s vineyard, working in one’s own unique way to bring about the coming of the kingdom. From the Lord’s prayer, we say,
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth
As it is in heaven.”
We come together to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, which literally translates as “thanksgiving.” Through this wonderful sacrament, Christ’s power and blessings is poured forth among His people. Let us thank the clergy and servers who minister faithfully at His altar, the men and women who serve in the Board, those who serve us refreshment after the service, those who perform various functions to keep our parish clean, beautiful and financially viable. Let us thank the members who join us in this weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist. They help build the spiritual temple for the distribution of Christ’s power through their presence and active participation.
There is so much to thank for: the beauty of the sky, the warmth of the sun, the wind, water, earth and fire. These elements reflect God’s transcendent glory in whose light, all things live, move and have their being. As we contemplate on the significance of this Thanksgiving Day, we pray,
“From the rising of the sun even on to the going down of the same, the Lord’s name shall be magnified..”
“Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.”