Since tomorrow is (in my mind) The Great American Holiday — Thanksgiving — I decided to begin my day by doing a word search through Scripture for the word thanksgiving. The one verse that jumped out at me was 1 Corinthians 14:16:
Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the place of the unlearned say ‘Amen’ at your thanksgiving, seeing he understands not what you said?
St. Paul is informing the Corinthians that prophecy is better than speaking in tongues; however, what is of real import here is that he is describing a liturgical action — one that all Orthodox Christians should be familiar with.
In Greek, the word for thanksgiving is εὐχαριστίᾳ — the root of the english word eucharist. In other words, St. Paul is describing the moment in the liturgy when the priest says:
Once again we offer to You this spiritual worship without the shedding of blood, and we ask, pray, and entreat You: send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here presented. And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ.
At this point, the people are to say, “Amen.”
Herein lie two Thanksgiving Day challenges:
- The true Thanksgiving Day Feast happens at God’s banquet table which has been set forth for us at the Divine Liturgy where thanksgiving (eucharist) is offered as our meal. If, on this most wondrous of American Holidays we are not planning to partake of thanksgiving (eucharist) itself, why not?
- Those who will be at the Divine Liturgy will be afforded an opportunity to participate in the very same liturgical action St. Paul describes in his First Letter to the Corinthians — saying “Amen” when the priest says, “And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ.” If we do not take advantage of this wonder, why not?
Orthros will begin at 9:30am and Divine Liturgy will follow around 10:00am.