The Divine Thanksgiving

The Divine Thanksgiving

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Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My Body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My Blood. Do this, as often as you drink It, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this Bread and drink the Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
I Corinthians 11:23-26
The Greek word for “Thanksgiving” is “Efharistia.” The Greek word for “Eucharist” is also “Efharistia.” So, the Holy Eucharist is the “Theia Efharistia” (“Theia” is the Greek word for holy), the Holy Thanksgiving. If thanksgiving is the action of a grateful heart, then the Eucharist sustains and augments our hearts towards thanksgiving. The Eucharist helps our hearts to be thankful.
In the Eucharist, we not only receive the Gift of Christ, but we express our thanks to Him. On Thanksgiving, we will have our tables filled with food and surrounded with family and friends. In the Eucharist, there is also a table involved—the altar table. The table has a feast on it—the Body and Blood of Christ. At the table we are surrounded not only by friends but by the angels and the saints. In partaking of the Eucharist, no one will leave hungry or unsatisfied. Because this banquet offers us a measure of holiness and spiritual sustenance.
In our lives, we can’t go very long without eating. Because without food, we cannot be productive or maintain our health. In our spiritual lives, we also cannot go long without partaking of the Eucharist and expect to maintain spiritual health. We will spend considerable time preparing our Thanksgiving feasts. We must also spend considerable time participating in the Divine Thanksgiving feast. And this feast isn’t reserved for once a year. We have the opportunity to partake in it often. As Saint Paul writes, “for as often as you eat this Bread and drink the Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  In partaking of the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis, we offer Him thanksgiving and praise, and He offers us love and redemption. In the Eucharist, we continually remember what Christ did for us. And in the Eucharist, we continually fashion our hearts to be thankful hearts. In the Eucharist, we are offering of ourselves by offering our hearts to God in thanksgiving. In the Eucharist, God offers Himself to us, through the blood He sacrificed on the Cross, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit which consecrates us and our gifts.
The entire process of the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, directs our hearts to thankfulness and joy. That is why it is important not only to receive the Eucharist, but to receive it in the context of worship. Because the journey through the Divine Liturgy softens hearts that are besieged with the stress of the world, moving them from stressed hearts, or busy hearts, or greedy hearts, to thankful hearts.
Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, let not (Your) Holy Gifts be to my condemnation because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body and the pledge of the future life and kingdom. It is good for me to cling to God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation. Amen. (From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Holy Cross Seminary Press, 1985)
If the Eucharist is offered in your church community for Thanksgiving, plan to partake of it. Otherwise, plan to partake of the Eucharist this coming Sunday.
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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0