Collect for Thanksgiving:1928 Book of Common Prayer
O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today on Thanksgiving, we celebrate a National American Holy Day. One inaugurated by our first President George Washington. President Washington was baptized, confirmed, communed, and married in the Anglican Church. This Feast of Thanksgiving is a wholly American holiday tied to the first pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in 1620.
Our Gospel lesson appointed is from St. Matthew vi. 25 beginning with, “JESUS said, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment?”
An appropriate thought as our American Thanksgiving has transformed into “What shall we eat?” and “What shall we buy on Black Friday?”
But what if our Lord is pointing beyond this? This text is often misread as maligning the goodness of food and clothing. Perhaps we’ve too often read this as Jesus’s attempt to shun the material in favor of the spiritual.
While Jesus certainly emphasizes that life is more than food, drink, and clothing – this does not mean that it is less than these things. Jesus is by no means advocating a psuedo-asceticism that shuns the material world. Rather he says, “for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”
Rather Jesus is encouraging us to view the material world in terms of his Kingdom. The Earth is the Lord’s. All of it.
Do not be anxious for clothing when every cotton field, every silk warm, every cowhide belongs to the Lord. Do not be anxious for food when every seed is upheld by his mighty hand. Do not be anxious for drink when our Lord gathers the rain in the clouds.
Shifting our focus to one of Thanksgiving for the Lord (who made and sustains all things) helps us see the Lord’s words here in terms of his Kingdom.