Focus on Thanksgiving

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A sermon for Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013.

It’s a good day for a fire in a fireplace.  A fire often becomes a focus, which is funny because the Latin word for fireplace or hearth is “focus.”  Johannes Kepler first used the term in the way we usually mean it, as he used “focus” to mean the burning point of a lens or mirror.”  The focus is where the fire it.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we have, in some ways, given thanks with our bodies by bringing them here, now.  He have chosen not to be many other places—we’re not at Walmart.  Not sleeping, as nice as that might be.  We’re not even working in the kitchen, or helping the cold or homeless, or doing our job so that others can be safe and warm and healthy… as holy as all those things might be.  Instead, we’ve come here, to focus, to breathe, to draw up closer to that which is the “burning point,” the place of where lives the fire of God’s love.

And focus is a crucial things to find and take care of, to guard and hold dear.  It’s so easy to lose focus.  To watch the news is to notice those who have lost everything in storms or through poverty.  It’s to hear the latest statistics on lives that have been cut short or damaged by guns or drugs or crime.  And we have those personal storms that fill our heads with problems to be solved, people to be forgiven, conversations to be tackled, projects that seem to multiply, and the expectations that come especially this time of year—the expectations others have of us and those we have for ourselves.  How good, then, to return to the hearth, the place where the fire of love burns, the center of our holy kitchen (in this place) not the stove, but the altar.

This is our primary focus.  Here Christ meets us and gives us his broken body.  It’s broken like our world, like our lives, like our bodies.  But in the receiving and sharing, the blessing… it makes us whole.  Here Christ meets us and gives his spilt blood.  It was wasted on the cross like too many in our world, it flowed too quickly like our own, but through our sharing, our receiving, there is blessing and wholeness and fire that burns anew.

Soon after Communion, we will be hungry again.  We will still thirst.  We will inevitably lose focus, but that doesn’t mean the fire goes out.  We can return again, and again, and again.

One of the oldest words used for Holy Communion is the Greek word, “eucharistia.”  The Eucharist is thanksgiving, as when Jesus blessed and gave thanks for the food before feeding the thousands, as the disciples gave thanks for the ordinary, daily bread; and especially as Jesus with his friends, in that upper room, took, blessed, broke, and gave the sacred meal of his Real Presence.

Among all the little and large things for which we’re thankful, let us live in thanksgiving that Christ has come to be with us, to be for us, and lead us into God’s unending Eucharistic Feast.

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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