November 25, 2020

Practicing Thanksgiving: An Act of War

There is nothing new under the sun,” writes the author of Ecclesiastes. I find great peace within this timeless truth, especially during this particular season of our lives. We are experiencing nothing today that the men and women who came before us have not already lived through. Pandemics, recessions, fierce ideological discourse, falling in love, the birth of a child or grandchild, steadfast friendships, sharing a great meal, celebrating the life of a loved one; these are not new experiences for humans. Instead, it seems these are the extraordinary circumstances that fill our ordinary lives. 

We are easily tempted to believe our lives should be free from challenges and filled with ease and comfort. And yet, this is not the life we know. Our lives are continuously and beautifully woven together through a myriad of human experiences, which provide us with fullness in life. The author of Ecclesiastes also says, “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Whatever season you find yourself in today, I encourage you that gratitude and thanksgiving are foundational to thinking and living well.

Practicing thanksgiving is an act of war against cynicism, despondency, anger, division, regret, impatience, and comparison. Joyful thanksgiving acknowledges God as the author of our lives, which frees us to live our lives as offerings for others’ good. Giving thanks rightly recognizes the good, the true, and the beautiful in our lives — no matter our circumstances. Gratitude applauds the gifts of others and encourages their employment in the world.

So it is good and right that our nation calls its people each year to a table as an invitation to lives of gratitude; waging war against all that seeks to destroy. As you gather this Thanksgiving with friends and family, may your preparation and celebration bring you great joy and deliver victory over your present trials and worries.

I close with a portion of prayer from, Every Moment Holy:

“To gather joyfully is indeed a serious affair, for feasting and all enjoyments gratefully taken are, at their heart, acts of war.

In celebrating this feast we declare that evil and death, suffering and loss, sorrow and tears, will not have the final word.

But the joy of fellowship, and the welcome and comfort of friends new and old, and the celebration of these blessings of food and drink and conversation and laughter are the true evidences of things eternal, and are the first fruits of that great glad joy that is to come and that will be unending.

So let our feast this day be joined to those victories secured by Christ, let it be to us a delight and a glad foretaste of his eternal kingdom. Bless us, O Lord, in this feast…

May this shared meal, and our pleasure in it, bear witness against the artifice and deceptions of the prince of the darkness that would blind this world to hope. May it strike at the root of the lie that would drain life of meaning, and the world of joy, and suffering redemption.

May this our feast fall like a great hammer blow against that brittle night, shattering the gloom, reawakening our hearts, stirring our imaginations, focusing our vision the kingdom of heaven that is to come, on the kingdom that is promised, on the kingdom that is already, indeed among us. For the resurrection of all good things has already joyfully begun…”

With thanksgiving,

David O’Neil
Head of School

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