This Sunday at St Timothy's | November 18, 2018
Fr Steve Rice
Thanksgiving Day is a theological statement. Think about it, when we gather together on Thursday with family and friends and enjoy all the traditions we’ve received, there is either implicitly or explicitly an atmosphere of gratitude. We are thankful for those around us and for the home and food that brought us together on that day. Families, religious and secular, might even go around the table with each person expressing what they are thankful for. On Thursday I visited my son Luke’s class for this Thanksgiving class program. After telling the story of the first Thanksgiving, each child read what they were thankful for. Some were thankful for family, for friends, for their school, and others expressed gratitude for their Church and Jesus.
In expressing our gratitude we are making the statement that there is someone (or something) responsible for the things for which we are thankful. Put another way, we do not say ‘thank you’ to nothing. That would be absurd. We say ‘thank you’ to the person who holds the door open for us on a rainy day. We say ‘thank you’ to the person who is kind enough to give us directions when we ask. We say ‘thank you’ to someone who has given us something. Thanksgiving Day is an acknowledgement of God. Who else is responsible for the bounty in our lives? Who else is responsible for the gift of family, friends, and love?
Gratitude is a condition of the heart and not merely an expression on the lips. To be thankful is to acknowledge in our heart that we have received something we did not earn and do not deserve. Gratitude is to live without presumption.
If we are indeed, thankful, how does that change how we live? There is that famous episode in the Gospels where Jesus heals ten lepers (Luke 17). Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests, who were the ones who could declare them ritually clean. They were all healed on their way to the priests. Only one stopped in his tracks and returned to Jesus, praised God, and thanked him. To live with gratitude is to acknowledge the reason why we are thankful. The leper didn’t just give thanks to Jesus in his heart, he went to where Jesus was.
The word eucharist means thanksgiving. The Holy Eucharist, the mass, is the ultimate act of gratitude to Our Lord for giving us everything – our lives, our blessings, and most of all, our salvation. The Holy Eucharist, like the experience of the grateful leper, brings us to where Jesus Christ is, not just in our hearts, but in the Blessed Sacrament.
This is yet another profound reason why our presence before His Presence is so very vital for our spiritual growth. The Holy Eucharist helps purge presumption. As the “Great Thanksgiving” it helps orient us toward a life of gratitude and a life of gratitude is a life that sees the world through the lens of abundance.
There is much to be thankful for. There is only One to Whom we give ultimate thanks. Both come together in the Holy Eucharist, where every day is Thanksgiving.
Music this Sunday
“How Firm a Foundation,” today’s procession hymn is from the “The Sacred Harp,” an 1844 compilation of American hymns. The author of the text is listed only as “K,” and hymnologists disagree about who the actual author was. The tune, “Foundation,” is also anonymous and was first published with under tune name “Protection.”
It was sung frequently in America before the Civil War and has been noted that it was one of Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite hymns, that Andrew Jackson requested it be sung at his deathbed, and that Robert E. Lee asked it be sung at his funeral.
Originally written with seven four-line stanzas, five are included in the 1982 Hymnal. Based on Isaiah 43: 1-5, this text was given the heading “Exceeding great and precious Promises. Stanza 2 quotes Isaiah 41:10 almost directly: “Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”
This is a text full of comfort for God’s people whose foundation of faith is rooted in the Word (st. 1) and whose lives experience divine protection when we face “deep waters” and “fiery trials” (st. 3-4). The final stanza moves beyond the text’s Old Testament source and proclaims the certainty Christ’s redemption.
Marked as Christ’s Own Forever
Archibald James Williams
This Sunday we are pleased to welcome through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism Archibald James Williams. Archie is presented for baptism by Jonathan and Catherine Williams and Hanna Staffle and Ace and Ainsley Quizon.
Archie will be baptized as the 11am Sung Mass.
Join us for a potluck dinner this Sunday as we celebrate all the ways in which we work together to serve at St. Timothy’s. Happy Hour will begin at 5:00, our dinner will begin at 5:30. Drinks and dessert will be provided, please bring a dish to share.