Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for Thanksgiving Day - November 24, 2011
Nov 18, 2011
Protocol Number 219/11
November 24, 2011
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)
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 blessed day of Thanksgiving, we are encouraged in the tradition of this great national holiday to be thankful to God for His presence in our lives and His abundant gifts to us. As Orthodox Christians this gratefulness to God is something we share with all who celebrate this day. It is also an attitude and manner of life that is presented in our worship and in our relationships with others.
Our first calling as Christians is to respond to the grace of God through worship and communion with Him. We sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving, offering honor and glory to our Creator and Sustainer. We celebrate and receive the Holy Eucharist, a divine mystery of worship and faith that unites us with Christ and fills our hearts with joy. We also show our thankfulness to God by responding to His call to service. We give our time, abilities, and resources for the sacred work of His kingdom and for the needs of others.
This spiritual fruit of thanksgiving which is produced from grateful hearts can have a tremendous impact. Words of gratitude can bring joy and fulfillment into the life of another person. Kindness and respect through acts of thankfulness can affirm human value and dignity and instill hope that care and compassion remain essential qualities of life. An attitude of thanksgiving even in the midst of challenging circumstances can be the strength for another and a witness of the power and grace of God.
This is a vital connection of faith to life. Does the thanksgiving you offer to God become attitudes of gratefulness and joy in all areas of your life? Are you thankful to Him through your kindness and gratitude toward others? Is your life a witness of thanksgiving, bringing blessings and strength to others? These are questions to consider on this holiday as we affirm the spiritual character of this day and the priority of thanksgiving in our Christian lives.
May you and your families have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving Day, filled with joy and fellowship in the presence of God. As you gather in homes, as you share in meals, and as you offer time in serving others, may you praise His name with songs and magnify Him with thanksgiving!
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America