Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving and The Great Thanksgiving

I came across this cartoon this evening.

It reminded me of what Alexander Schmemann wrote in For the Life of the World.
And in the Bible to bless God is not a “religious” or a “cultic” act, but the very way of life. God blessed the world, blessed man, blessed the seventh day (that is time), and this means that he filled all that exists with His love and goodness, made all this “very good.” So the only natural (and not “supernatural”) reaction of man to whom God gave this blessed and sanctified world, is to bless God in return, to thank Him, to see the world as God sees it and — in this act of gratitude and adoration — to know, name and possess the world. All rational, spiritual and other qualities of man, distinguishing him from other creatures, have their focus and ultimate fulfillment in this capacity to bless God, to know, so to speak, the meaning of the thirst and hunger that constitutes his life. “Homo sapiens,” “homo faber” … yes, but first of all, “homo adorans.” The first, the basic definition of man is that he is the priest. He stands in the center of the world and unifies it in his act of blessing God, of both receiving the world from God and offering it to God — and by filling the world with this eucharist, he transforms his life, the one that he receives from the world, into life in God, into communion with Him. The world was created as the “matter,” the material of one all-embracing eucharist, and man was created as the priest of this cosmic sacrament.
The word eucharist means thanksgiving.  Every Sunday, we meet to join in the Great Thanksgiving, but what about every other day, or every other minute for that matter?  As Schmemann said, every moment is to be lived eucharistically, thankfully, recognizing the One who has blessed us.  Schmemann goes on to say that when mankind ate of the food in the garden which was not given as a blessing, it was eaten not as communion with God but as an end in itself.  Because of this we are now inclined to forget God, to become dependent on the food itself or powers or fate and without communion with God, there is no life.

Of course, God has not left us to this fate.  He has come down, to rescue us, to transform us, that we may again live our lives in continuous communion with him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We are once again, receiving the blessing of this world and in our role as priest, able to bless God in return.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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