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- Middle Eastern Food Sale - December 19, 2020
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Let Us Give Thanks unto The Lord!
Jesus always enjoyed a good meal; we read it again and again in the Gospel. Sometimes, in Religion, there's a tendency to portray Jesus as an austere holy man opposed to the simple pleasures of everyday life. Some people who profess Him go so far as to equate faith with unrelenting asceticism and self-denial. The lack of balance puts at risk the 'love' found in community and friendship that is at the heart of the Gospel.
When the Puritan Pilgrims, who weren't exactly known for enjoying themselves or throwing themselves into the pleasures of everyday life, declared the first Thanksgiving in 1621 they didn't call for a celebration or a feast. Instead, they fasted. They observed a day of prayer without food. It was their way of giving thanks to God for the blessings they received despite the incredible hardships they endured. Thanksgiving, for them, was to focus on God and their dependence on His abiding love and presence. Their Thanksgiving Day was not the banquet they enjoyed with their Native American neighbors, that came later. Ric Burns has a beautiful docudrama about the Pilgrims, taken from the diary of William Bradford, about the struggle of these first pioneers in Massachusetts. It will no doubt air on PBS during the holiday, try to watch 'The Pilgrims' if you can for a deeper appreciation of Thanksgiving. You can also find it on YouTube – it's well worth watching.
Jesus, on the other hand, would begrudge no one a fine Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends and all the trimmings. Good food, children and their din, old-timers who wonder where the year went, and the background noise of football games; people are toiling in the kitchen, willingly, muttering and wiping away the steam. Everyone can draw his or her image of Thanksgiving from memories past, or imagined.
In this year of COVID, our holiday will be quite different, maybe a bit closer to the original one. There will be no parades, fewer people gathering at home, greater emphasis on masks, social distance, fresh air and limited time together. Maybe these changes will help bring us back to the question of 'thanks'. That's what the day is about; after all, that's how it started. Our 'thanks' is, first of all, a reflection on the past year. But our 'thanks' is invariably the starting point for something new. Giving thanks has an action attached. It requires us to do something.
Thankfully, most of us are surviving the ravages of COVID and adjusting to the 'new normal'. Thankfully we see God's presence in a new way as we count our blessings. Our thoughts and prayers now turn to the families around us who are not as fortunate. We reach out to those who have suffered financial hardship, sickness and death. This year we are more aware of the sick and the suffering, the hungry, the refugee, the homeless and the poor. Thankfully, we have a more Christian understanding of things, and we know that we are all part of one human family.
This COVID year as we gather at the table, however unique the circumstance, Christ will be among us. We will thank God for His blessings. We will enjoy a special lovingly prepared meal. We will be filled and refreshed. And we will do what is required by Jesus, our guest. With a new awareness of the meaning of life, we will, compassionately, in imitation of our Divine guest include the sick, the suffering, the poor and the needy in our everyday lives.
This year we give thanks for our increased capacity to love, for our opportunity to love. We thank God for the chance to act out of our shared love. And so, we must. Let us be Thankful and work as Jesus would have us.
Blessings, Fr +Timothy
St. James the Persian was born in the Persian Royal City of Beit-Lapeta, of an illustrious family. As his family, he embraced Christianity and married a devout Christian. Attached as a soldier to the Court of Shah Yazdegard the King of Persia, he rose to the highest ranks, and enjoyed the highest honors. He was Shah Yazdegerd’s favorite, who overwhelmed him with favors.
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