Contentment, Thanksgiving, and the Glory of God

On a day on which the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is transferred to a Sunday due to unique circumstance, Fr. Matthew Howell uses the Old Testament readings from the feast to discuss the issues of contentment and gratitude. He talks about how the temple was filled with the glory of God, and then ponders about the word “filled” to lead to the topic of contentment (as in, I am full, satisfied, and content). He states that contentment and gratitude regarding are possessions are needed in order for us to be filled with the glory of God, using the parable of the Foolish Rich Man (Luke 12:16-21) as a warning tale. He cautions, however, against settling for “good enough” when it comes to offering alms, love, prayer, and deepening relationships. Along the way he reads the Thanksgiving Sermon of Fr. Alexander Schmemann and also discusses a financial finish line idea introduced by Dr. Andrew Geleris in the book Money and Salvation.

 

 

The famous Thanksgiving Day sermon of Fr. Alexander Schmemann was the last sermon he preached shortly before his repose in 1983. He read it immediately following the conclusion of the final Divine Liturgy he served at St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary.

“Thank You, O Lord!”
A Sermon for Thanksgiving Day

By Fr. Alexander Schmemann

+ Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for having accepted this Eucharist, which we offered to the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and which filled our hearts with the joy, peace and righteousness of the Holy Spirit.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for having united us to one another in serving You and Your Holy Church.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the “one thing needed”: Your eternal Kingdom.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to worship You.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for this school[1], where the Name of God is proclaimed.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and, especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.

+ Thank You, O Lord, for everyone and everything.

+ Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.

+ Lord, it is good to be here! Amen.

[1] St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary of Tuckahoe, New York

Hebrews 9:1-7

BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.

Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28

At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”