1 Chronicles 29:10bc, 11, 12 (℟ 13b)
1 Corinthians 1:3–9
ALTHOUGH ADVENT BEGINS NEXT SUNDAY, the commercialized Christmas season epitomized by Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals has already started. This time of heightened buying and selling is a good foil for understanding how Christians are called to go further when they give thanks for the blessings they have received.
In American culture, with our strong sense of individualism and self-reliance, we often treat giving thanks as a two-way exchange. I give you something; you give me thanks in return. Whether it’s money, a present, power, or opportunity, the recipient is obligated to “pay back” the gift with a response of gratitude or some other item of equal value to the giver. Once this is done, the transaction is complete.
However, the gifts we receive from God do not work this way. God’s gifts cannot be earned or bought for there is nothing we can offer that would “pay back” the gift in full. Something else is needed. To signify our reception of God’s blessings as a gift and not as a reward or exchange, theologian Rev. Louis-Marie Chauvet says we must give a “return gift.” This third step places the gift received into service for others in need. Only by “paying it forward” can we receive God’s blessings and give rightful praise to the One who freely gives us all that is good.
The parish I attend on Thanksgiving Day has a beautiful tradition of blessing loaves of bread for the congregation to take home with them and share at their Thanksgiving meals. This tradition reminds me of the early days of the church when the Eucharistic liturgy was celebrated in people’s homes. This ancient practice is much more real to all of us that have gone through the celebration of mass at home during the time of COVID. The blessed bread that we share with our families is a reminder of the Eucharistic bread we share when we come together for the liturgy and give our gratitude to God. “Let us give thanks to the Lord, Our God!”
More choral suggestions for Thanksgiving Day…
A Harvest Anthem Malcolm Archer SAATB, organ G-8431
All for You Mikey Needleman Three-part choir, cantor, assembly, keyboard, guitar 008494
Bendeciré Tu Nombre / I Will Praise Your Name: Salmo 145(144) Diego Correa y Damaris Thillet ¡Aclama, Tierra Entera! / Sing, All You Lands! bilingual songbook 012637
For the Beauty of the Earth Bernard Sexton SATB, keyboard G-6603
For the Beauty of the Earth Ed Bolduc Three-part choir, solo, assembly, keyboard, guitar 008436
For the Fruit of All Creation Alice Parker SATB or two-part choir, assembly, keyboard G-6264
Give Thanks Kathleen Demny Two-part children’s choir, keyboard 007147
Gracias, Señor Diego Correa y Damaris Thillet Canten a Dios con Ritmos de Nuestra Tierra songbook 012528
How Great Thou Art Arr. Kathleen M. Basi SATB, descant, keyboard 008930
Lord, It Is Good to Give Thanks W. Clifford Petty SATB, cantor, assembly, keyboard 001293
Now Thank We All Our God Johann Pachelbel SATB G-7476
Por Tu Misericordia Eleazar Cortés Alabemos a Dios songbook 012682
’Tis the Gift to Be Simple Arr. Nicholas Micchelli SAB a cappella 008273