Thanksgiving, in 21st-century American culture, marks the beginning of “The Holidays” — those six weeks of the year marked by food, festivities, and a frantic pace. We know The Holidays are coming, because the stores have been decorated in red and green since just after Labor Day. The pressure to celebrate in excessive and secular ways can be so difficult to resist.

Although Thanksgiving wasn’t originally a Christian holiday, our liturgical calendar recognizes the date as a holy day, and the Holy Eucharist — The Great Thanksgiving — is offered to us and to our community, as it is every Thursday (and nearly every other day of the week) in our historic chapel. Nearly everyone has this day off from their regular jobs, so our chapel should be full tomorrow morning! Certainly some will be busy basting turkeys, baking pies, and mashing potatoes; others will be traveling over the river and through the woods. But the rest of us can gather together to offer our humble thanksgiving to the Lord for all of His blessings.

It is far too easy in the midst of all the food and football to forget to be thankful, and not just be FULL. As Christians, we have much to be thankful for. We have a Great Salvation, purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. We have the freedom to worship, in authentic form at St. Michael’s, as taught by Jesus and his disciples.

Commit to beginning The Holidays this year with thanksgiving! Not Thanksgiving, the American holiday, or even The Great Thanksgiving of the Holy Eucharist, but the attitude of thanksgiving that those events are designated to underscore. Perhaps with this strong start, an attitude of thanksgiving may sustain itself through Epiphany and beyond….

Written by Ben Conarroe, St. Michael’s parishioner and founder of Pro-Mentors Prison Ministries.