By Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv.
Prior to his instructions about the “Lord’s Supper” in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us about sharing a meal often to remind us of the need for togetherness and to eliminate harmful divisions. During Paul’s reminder, he quotes, “Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it . . ..” First, He was thankful!
After breaking the bread, Jesus took the cup and in the same way blessed it. The same way of first giving thanks. The Old and New Testaments both are filled with instructions to be thankful, even during times in our lives when the challenges seem to overwhelm us.
Three years ago while attending my first Jewish temple worship service, I also witnessed the sharing of a meal of bread and wine. Of course, it wasn’t in the context of Christian communion, but it helped me realize the importance of gathering together for a special occasion as a family, breaking bread, and the togetherness and reminders of embracing one another.
The next enlightenment on my path came from my Canadian friends. I discovered that Canada also has a Thanksgiving Day. I joke with them that they celebrate it on the wrong day of the year as theirs is in October. My research then revealed that Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in numerous countries around the world. A special day with the focus on being thankful and for thanks giving!
One of my favorite days of giving thanks happens not only on our American Thanksgiving holiday, traditionally the fourth Thursday of November, but also annually on the third Thursday of November at 7:30PM in Fort Lauderdale/Wilton Manors. It is our city’s annual Interfaith Service with a Thanks Giving theme!
At this annual event, we are reminded to focus on our togetherness and to bless the diversity of our religious differences and especially to embrace and be thankful for that which we have in common which is love. During this time of worship, we learn and spiritually grow as we come together as one human family. We grow because we are easily able to witness and experience that which we do have in common which is to be grateful people and to embrace and celebrate our commonalities and connections with one another. It is always a fruitful holiday religious experience. All are welcome.
I give thanks for thanks giving and for Thanksgiving. It is a divine practice!