Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Beloved in Christ – GLORY BE TO OUR LORD!
In today’s highly secularized culture, it’s easy to forget the religious origins of some of our holidays – Thanksgiving Day among them. Traditionally, those who first set aside a day for offering thanksgiving to God in our nation’s history, underlining their religious reasons for doing so, were the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts in the year 1621 – although we should stress that this was not the first recorded observance of the tradition in our nation’s early history. The idea of giving thanks to Almighty God for His blessings is as old as the human race. It did not begin with the institution of Thanksgiving Day in America just 300 years ago, although it is true that the designation of a particular day for offering thanksgiving set the idea of gratitude in a new pattern.
The Greek word, Eucharist, means 'thanksgiving'. Each time, as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we, your hierarchs, offer our gratitude to Almighty God for His love and mercy. We thank our Lord Jesus Christ for the blessings received through the ministry of our forefathers, both clergy and laity, ensuring the blessed present for all of us. We offer gratitude to God for our ancestral homeland Ukraine as she continues its struggle for social, moral, economic and spiritual maturity. However, we are most thankful for you, the clergy and the faithful of our Metropolia – our extended family, as our most important blessing.
We have so much to be grateful for. We live in the richest country in the world and we have so much. At times, we have much more than we could ever need. What we will eat on Thanksgiving Day could feed a family for a month in a poor country. As we celebrate and express our gratitude to God this year, let us see Christ our Lord in each other and especially in those who are in need. Let us love one another as we love Christ Himself. Let us serve one another as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as St. Paul says: "May He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness…" (2 Corinthians 9:10)
When we celebrate Thanksgiving Day this year, let us do so in the spirit of our ancestors. Let us make it more than a day to enjoy family fellowship, fine food and football, by taking time to count our blessings as individuals, as families, and as a nation. Let us begin the day properly, by attending the liturgical service – hopefully at least a Moleben – in all our parish churches to worship and thank our God.
Let us offer special gratitude for our religious freedom and remember in prayer all who have ever helped us in a time of need. Finally, as “one nation under God”, we cannot forget those who have less or nothing at all. Let us reach out to those in need – for example, through the Ukrainian Orthodox League’s Thanksgiving Tithe Event – to share our bounty, however humble, with them. The very best way to give thanks to God for His abundant blessings upon us is to imitate Him by providing blessings to others.
We are those who pray for you unceasingly,
+ Antony, Metropolitan
+ Daniel, Bishop