A national day of Thanksgiving. It was not, is not, a bad idea. Everyone pauses to say thank you. One wonders about the miracles that might happen if they actually did. It will be wonderful to be together with family later today, but I know that we will spend very little time saying "thank you" and a great deal of time pouring through "Black Friday" circulars and making Christmas lists.
A single day called "Thanksgiving" hardly matters, however. For Christian people, gratitude is the beating heart of life itself. It is the heart of what we call conversion. The ability to be grateful may be innate to the human psyche, but it takes a back seat to many other things in the ways most of us are raised by the culture. Things having to do with self-interest come first.
Very early on in the history of those who followed Jesus, less than a hundred years after his death and resurrection, Christians began calling the sharing of bread and wine that he left them to "do in remembrance of me," "the Eucharist." It probably came from hearing the words of what he had done over and over and over again, "He gave thanks (Greek: eucharist), gave it to them, and said ..." It was simple. If he what he was doing was "giving thanks," then that is what they were doing as well. And so it became "the Eucharist."
Which means, as I said earlier, gratitude becomes the beating heart of faithful living. From it flows everything else: faith, hope, and love (Paul's big three), joy, justice, and peace. So if we want to work on our conversion, the deepening of our ongoing relationship with God, one another, and the world, we need to work on gratitude. It is not any more complicated than that.
A last thought--I wonder what people would think if on our church signs we stopped using the word "Eucharist" and instead used its translation: "10 am Holy Thanksgiving." Would they think we had forgotten to change the sign from last November? Or would they be curious enough to ask, "I wonder what that is about?"
Happy Thanksgiving today, and every Sunday.