Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America
November 7/20, 2018
Thanksgiving Day 2018
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Executive Boards and Members of the Church-School Congregations of the Serbian Orthodox Communities in North and South America,
the Circles of Serbian Sisters of our Parishes and Dioceses, the beloved Children and Youth and the entire Serbian Orthodox Family in North and South America:
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
For if God does not for a moment tire of giving us good things,
how can we tire of thanking Him for these good things?”
— St. Nicholai Velimirović
(The Prologue from Ochrid)
The beautiful tradition of Thanksgiving Day which we celebrate is another special opportunity for us to offer to one another and to our neighbors, our personal and collective witness that thanksgiving is who we are as the Church, and that it is the very content of our Christian life. The priority of thankfulness in our liturgy, prayer and all aspects of our faith, teaches us, as reflected in these words of Saint Nicholai, to never tire of thanking God and to live in gratitude in all of the circumstances of our life.
In the Divine liturgy itself, our common work is to glorify God and give thanks. This gratitude is especially emphasized as we thank God for all things “manifest and hidden,” as everything is a gift to us from the Lord. The celebration of the Liturgy, the Eucharist, restores in us this spirit of gratitude in which we perceive creation and salvation as a gift and learn the language of love which always sees and understands that everything is first and foremost a gift from the Triune God.
Saint Nicholai, who reminds us that God never tires in giving us good things, also reminds us that “as long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the Household of Christ.” Remembering this truth, that everything is God’s and that we are simply His guests, staying in His home, will help us to not only sense and feel gratitude, but to also multiply it.
We will soon begin the Nativity Fast, and as we do so, we ask God to bless you abundantly, so that together, in unity of faith and love, we may spend this sacred time in a purposeful way through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
As we celebrate this day and as we begin our journey to Christmas and Theophany, let us give thanks to God for His great love for us, a love which is forever. May we live each day in mystery of expectation and in the spirit of the words of the Holy Apostle Paul: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.)
With paternal love in Christ,
Bishop of New Gracanica-Midwestern America
PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL COUNCIL
SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA
MITROPHAN, Bishop of Canada
MAXIM, Bishop of Western America
IRINEJ, Bishop of Eastern America
KIRILO, Bishop in South and Central America