Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for Thanksgiving Day 2013
Nov 22, 2013
Protocol Number 180/13
November 28, 2013
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
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,
As we commemorate Thanksgiving Day, a special holiday in the history and life of this nation, we do so with grateful hearts to the One who blesses us abundantly with grace and life. We praise our great and mighty God who knows and provides for our needs, who fills our lives with joy and hope, who brings us comfort in our times of struggle, and who assures us with the promises of eternal life.
When we commune with Him and offer our prayers of thanksgiving for all that He gives to us, we have no need for anxiety or worry. From day to day and year to year the circumstances of our lives will change. Challenges will come. Great joy and happiness will be experienced. Dear family members and friends will leave this temporal life. New relationships will begin. Through all of this, we are encouraged by the Apostle Paul to have no anxiety about anything because our trust is in our Creator and Redeemer.
For the Orthodox Christian, the response to both the joys and struggles of life is this: in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. In faith we respond to all of the circumstances and events of life with prayer and supplication. We turn to God. We seek His will and His guidance. We overcome the fear of the unknown with prayer of the heart. We vanquish the anxiety of uncertainty by calling on the name of the Lord.
But our prayers are not supplications marked by worry, impatience, or resignation. They are infused with the spirit and power of thankfulness. They are filled with grateful praise and adoration of our God who loves us and gives us salvation. Our prayers echo the affirmation of the Psalmist who sang, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2) In a moment of life when anxiety and fear could consume us, our requests to God for His provision in our time of need, our prayers to Him should be filled with thanksgiving. Our supplications should reveal the depth of our faith in the almighty power of God.
This is the tremendous witness of this day of Thanksgiving. Certainly, it is a time of fellowship with family and friends. However, it is also a day that commemorates the way we live our lives each day. It is a day that affirms the attitude we should have in all things. We give thanks in our worship. We give thanks to one another in the bonds we share in Christ. We give thanks to those who offer compassionate and sacrificial service. We are thankful when we receive tremendous blessings. May we also be thankful in each moment, offering our prayers and gratefulness to God, joining with the heavenly hosts offering blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might to our God for ever and ever! Amen (Revelation 7:12).
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America