Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Great Thanksgiving

So given that we are at the Church of the Holy Communion and it is Thanksgiving, I thought this would be a proper topic.  Thanksgiving.
Did you know that the two go hand in hand?  Communion and thanksgiving...
Stay with me for a minute as we take a brief look at the history of Episcopal Church.  As many know, we broke apart from the Catholic Church, most famously because King Henry VIII wanted a divorce (annulment) .  However, King Henry actually challenged the authority of Rome for most of his rule.  Anyway, so we split.
We also have a connection to the Protestant Church.  If there is any question about it, look at the official title given to members of the church. 
Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  
First, WOW! Second, did you see the word Protestant in there?
In the Episcopal Church, tradition plays a very important role in our theology.  It was one of the keys to our foundation and is one of the "legs" of the Three-Legged Stool as decribed by Richard Hooker.
How do we honor our heritage and traditions in our church every Sunday?  
Well, our service is spit into two main parts.  The first half where we honor our Protestant background.  During this part of the service we have the readings, the Gospel, the Sermon...we focus on the Word of God.  Which is largely the focus of the Protestant Church.  
The second half of the service is to honor our Catholic background and our focus on the Eucharist.
It is this second part that I want to concentrate on for now.  The Eucharist.  It is during the Eucharist that we all come together, at the Lord's table and share Communion.  We do this every Sunday.  
Earlier, I asked if you knew how Communion and Thanksgiving go hand in hand?
The definition of Eucharist is actually means thanksgiving!  That is why when we start the Eucharist it says The Great Thanksgiving!  Why?  I am glad you asked!
We have been blessed with so many gifts!  We have so much to be thankful for!  The Eucharist reminds us that the central act of the service is the giving of thanks to God for all of God's gifts to us!  
Then to show you how much we like to honor the traditions of the church, there is a dialogue between the priest and congregation that comes from the Jewish tradition!  
Whoa! So you're saying that in one normal service, we honor our Protestant background, Catholic background, Jewish heritage, and give thanks to God!?!  Crazy right.
This Thanksgiving, the only challenge is to truly give thanks.  We are all so blessed, so be thankful.
Lift up your hearts! We lift them up the the Lord!  Let us give thanks to the Lord or God.  It is right to give God thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. 

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