NOVEMBER PASTORAL MESSAGE
By Rev. Dr. Nicholas V. Gamvas, Protopresbyter
On this Thanksgiving Day we want to take note that before passing out the food Jesus gave thanks. His thanks is, in fact, a prominent part of the story; John tells us this twice. The Bible tells us that after the five small loaves and two fish were given Him, Jesus “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted” (vs 11). Even more striking is John’s account of the next day. John tells us that, (Jn 6:23) … some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. In reminding us of Jesus’s miracle, the Gospel writer wants to make sure we realize it happened after Jesus had given thanks.
Why did Jesus do this? Why did He give thanks to God the Father? Jesus gave thanks because He could see beyond the material to the spiritual. Jesus gave thanks because He could see beyond the bread and fish to the God, Who provided the bread and fish. To Jesus, even the smallest morsel of food was not trivial but pointed back to its Maker and Giver. This is true not only for bread and fish but for every good thing that we might enjoy. All things point beyond themselves to their Maker and Giver. By giving thanks, Jesus shows us the intimate connection between the spiritual and the material. Why did Jesus do this? Why did He give thanks to God the Father? The second answer we can give is that in giving thanks Jesus was making the ordinary sacred. It wasn’t just bread and fish in His hands. On Thanksgiving Day, it isn’t just a piece of pumpkin pie or turkey on your fork. It isn’t just a computer on your desk or a car in your garage. After you have given thanks it is something holy, sacred, a gift from God Most High.
On this Thanksgiving Day we want to give thanks. On this Thanksgiving Day we want to join the material world to the spiritual. On this Thanksgiving Day we want to dedicate to God what has been given to us. Like Jesus we want to give thanks.
There are times, of course, when we all are tempted to feel ungrateful. At such times it is good for us to contemplate the good things God has done for us. May I offer this suggestion: write on a card small enough to fit into your wallet, 10 great things God has done for you. Then, whenever you are tempted to feel ungrateful, pull out that card and start thinking about the mercies you have written down. By thinking about God’s past provision, you’ll be encouraged to trust in His power to provide and protect in the present.
Let us be like Jesus and give thanks. Let us give thanks realizing that this joins the material to the spiritual. Let us give thanks realizing this makes the profane sacred and dedicates it to the service of God. Let us give thanks to God for His many blessings.