Protocol No. 197/18
November 22, 2018
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,
We give thanks to God on this blessed day as we do and should on every day for His gift of life. This is a day to reflect on the many aspects and experiences of our lives for which we are grateful; but at the foundation of all of this is life we have been given by God and our gratitude to Him for what He has done for us. As we offer all honor and glory, we praise the name of God with a song, and we magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).
Our thanksgiving is offered to our Creator because the life He has given us is sacred. He has created us in His likeness and image. He has given us the breath of life. He is the source of our very being and the reason for our existence. Our great and gracious God has created us in His love to commune with Him and to experience the blessedness and holiness of this life and fellowship.
We offer our gratitude to God for the abundant life that He offers to us. Our Lord affirmed He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). This is the life we can have now. It is life lived each day in communion with God, guided by His presence and grace, and offering a witness to the world of our faith in Him. Abundant life is a life that is lived in the joy of the Resurrection, the hope of salvation, and the anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. It is life that is always grateful, giving thanks to Him in all things.
Our continuous offering of thanksgiving in hymn and prayer, through our celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and through our witness, is also our response to the promise of eternal life. Our faith in the promise of salvation offers a witness to all people, because we know that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also and bring us together into His presence. We know that as grace extends to more and more people, it will increase thanksgiving to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:14-15).
As you gather together with your families and friends, as you worship in your communities on this blessed day during this holy season of the Nativity of our Lord, may our voices be lifted in thanksgiving to God for life, life that is sacred, abundant, and eternal. In Him we have life, and for our lives we are grateful.
With paternal love in Christ,
† D E M E T R I O S
Archbishop of America