Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Sermons

I am always somewhat befuddled by Thanksgiving Day (or eve) church services. I don't really have a personal issue with mixing Church and State holidays, but I know there are folks in the Episcopal Church who abhor having anything that smacks of civic religion or patriotism influence the church.

I always find that view, in itself, also a curious phenomenon seeing as our tradition comes from the Church of England, which is patronized by the state. Even that ECUSA propaganda paper periodical Episcopal Life has a bulletin insert quoting George Washington's original Thanksgiving Day decree.

Thanksgiving in its true meaning is a fine American tradition. Unfortunately, it has become more synonymous with gluttony than with being thankful. I physically cringe when I hear someone refer to the holiday as "Turkey Day." I find that disrespectful of the meaning of the spirit of the day, and downright demeaning of the turkey. I mean, if I was a turkey about to be slaughtered, I would hope I would be sacrificed as a Thanksgiving offering and not as an offering to gluttony.

I suppose that is one of the reasons the church keeps it as a Mass option with its own prescribed lectionary readings and all. Being Thankful is certainly what the Mass is all about, as it is described in various places in the BCP Cranmerian language as a "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving."

But what does it mean to be thankful. Do most Americans even really understand the concept anymore?


Patricia said...

I don't think anybody understands the concept anymore. Mostly because these days stores sells halloween stuff then jumps to christmas stuff. They do sell thanksgiving stuff but only cuz thanksgiving is wedged bewteen the two. The culture have shifted from "giving thanks" to "gimmie more". As much as I like the 3 holidays back to back in 3 months, I admit thanksgiving is my favorite. Why? Because it's all about getting together and enjoying the company. Without worrying abour who got what, going broke, getting cavities (from all that candies) and forgetting the true meaning of the holidays.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that thankfulness has any space in a culture where no one thinks that they have enough. Not only do people think that they need more and more to be happy, but they increasingly think that its owed to them for some reason. I wish I could think of a way to put some theological legs on this comment so it could be more than a simple rant. I'll just assert my opinion that most people I know live for stuff and are unhappy with what they have, and I will leave it at that.