Thank God and Thank You!
Thanksgiving is at the heart of the Christian life. Indeed, the whole of human existence can be understood as an individual making a decision to express either thankfulness or thanklessness toward his Creator. St. John Chrysostom famously de-parted this world with the words, “glory to God for all things.” This is an expression of total thanksgiving on his part, even in the midst of his imprisonment, privation, mistreatment, bodily ailments, and political failure. As a truly mature Christian, St. John was able to leave this life in a spirit of forgiveness and complete thankfulness.
It is probably not surprising then, that one of the names for our central act of worship is “the Eucharist.” Eucharist is a Greek word which means “thanksgiving.” When we come to church and celebrate the Eucharist, the priest intones, “let us lift up our hearts,” which is a call for us to sacrifice our own hearts and our whole beings to God. He then prays, “let us give thanks unto the Lord.” It is only by sacrificing our hearts and by entering into genuine thanksgiving that we can come into the saving and eternal union with God to which we are called.
In this spirit, I want to begin my ministry here by thanking God for the kindnesses he has shown us already in his place though you, his saints. “Great art thou, O Lord, and marvelous are thy works, and there is no word which sufficeth to hymn thy wonders!” Thank you to those who have greeted us so warmly, to those who helped us move into our house, to those who have had us over for dinner, to those who have given us toys for our children. Thank you to those who have prayed for us and who have loved us even before you knew us. Thank you to those who have handled so much of the hard work of running the parish during the interim period. Thank you, most of all, for being a community committed to worshipping God “in Spirit and truth.”
Let us continue to offer genuine thanksgiving to the Lord in this place, being confident that true thanksgiving will lead to true love, and true love will draw in our neighbors, leading them to join us in our ever-expanding, ever-resounding, glorious and life-giving hymn of praise: “glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men!”
— Fr. Ignatius