Thanksgiving and Stewardship
There are no two themes so incredibly linked as are stewardship and thanksgiving. Stewardship is the recognition that all belongs to God; thanksgiving is our gratitude for all He has given to us.
There is a custom I learned while on a mission in Africa. If one person gives another a gift, it is received by holding out both hands. No matter how small, the gift is accepted with both outstretched hands as a gesture of appreciation. Later, when stationed in Japan, I learned this to be the custom in the Far East as well. To accept any gift in a cavalier manner, like with just one hand, would be rude and arrogant. Gratitude is expressed in the way in which we receive the gift. Stewardship is a gesture of appreciation.
Our great and gracious God has blessed us abundantly. We who live in this country are especially blessed. Our nation was founded on freedom and liberty, and here we can say what we wish, worship as we choose, and seek our personal happiness as we see fit—within limits of the Law, of course. As Orthodox Christians, we are the inheritors of a great tradition founded by the Apostles and passed on generation after generation; a tradition that focuses on the greatest gift God could give: the gift of His Son, who voluntarily died on the Cross and rose from the dead for our salvation. We should be grateful for all our blessings.
Religious freedom as we understand it in this country means we are free to worship as we choose… or not. We can do nothing at all if we so choose; believe nothing; go to no house of worship; support no religion. No one compels us to go to Church. Nor are we forced to support our Church. I, however, this Sunday, plan to uplift both hands to God in an expression of gratitude and acceptance of His great gifts. I urge you to do the same, in thanksgiving. Recognizing His blessings, I would also commend each and every one in our parish to be good and faithful stewards of His Holy Church, supporting it and working for the greater good of His community here in Williamsburg.
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Encountering the Mystery by Patriarch Bartholomew
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Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
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