November 27, 2008
“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,
Thanksgiving is an essential expression of our worship and prayer as Orthodox Christians. When we gather in our parishes and when we direct our minds and hearts toward God seeking His guidance, we offer our deepest gratitude to Him for His love and the gift of salvation. We do this through praise of His greatness, through words and exclamations of honor that magnify His glory, and through actions of respect, which show the reverent state of our hearts.
In fulfilling the divine call to live in holiness, thanksgiving becomes a visible witness of God’s indwelling power and presence. Our hearts are filled with gratitude because our souls, our minds, indeed, all of our being is aware of and committed to the will of God. Our complete faith in His wisdom and in the knowledge of the truth gives us an experience and perspective of life that accentuates the blessings and the hope of salvation. We are grateful for what was, what is, and what will come because we know that our lives are in the hands of our Creator.
This assurance that comes from faith is reflected in thanksgiving, in all moments of our earthly lives. While we all encounter moments of difficulty or even times of crisis in our lives; as people of faith, our response is not one of despair, hopelessness, or sorrow. Rather, we face the challenges of life by placing our complete trust in God, by acknowledging His love for us, and by magnifying Him with thanksgiving, to paraphrase the Psalmist quoted above.
We are reminded of this and of the deeper, spiritual relevance of thanksgiving as we celebrate a very traditional and beloved holiday of our great American nation, Thanksgiving Day. On this day people from across the land gather with family and friends in a spirit of love and fellowship, sharing in life and happiness, and offering thanks to God for His blessings and innumerable gifts. Many will show their gratitude by reaching out to those in need through offering gifts of food or by serving a meal. These are very beautiful expressions of love and gratitude which are entirely consistent with our identity as Orthodox Christians, expressions which this wonderful holiday emphasizes so clearly.
On this Thanksgiving Day, it is my fervent prayer that the blessings of our Lord be upon all of you as you gather in love and fellowship to offer gratitude to God for all that we have as Orthodox Christians, who are blessed to live in the United States of America. May His infinite love and perfect peace be with you on this day and always as we praise His most magnificent name and as we come together to give thanks for His abundant blessings.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America