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Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
 Archdiocese of the Western United States





Life of Jesus








November,25 2015

Dearly beloved faithful of the Western Archdiocese, USA,
Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

Today is called Thanksgiving Day, How did we all celebrate Thanksgiving? By family reunion, and having a huge meal followed by all kinds of sweets and deserts, with turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie being the essential items. Many people spent Thanksgiving Day by watching football and other sports and entertainment. Many other spent the day gambling. Here I ask you: where is the Thanksgiving in all this?

Thanksgiving Day started as a day of prayer. After the first harvest completed by the settlers in Plymouth, in 1621, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of prayer and thanksgiving shared by all the colonists and neighboring Native Americans. In 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England. Every year thanksgiving was celebrated after the harvest. During the American Revolution, a national day of thanksgiving was suggested by the continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1873 President Abraham Lincoln declared a day of thanksgiving to be a national holiday. It was traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday of November; the Congress, however, changed it to the fourth Thursday in that month in 1941.

Thanksgiving Day, thus, was of a day of prayer, not a day of feasting. The whole life of a Christian must be one of thanksgiving. A good Christian acknowledges and appreciates the favors and graces received, not only from God, but also from his fellow men. His heart and mouth are always offering thanks to God and to the people.

We would like to seize the opportunity this day to evaluate the true essence of this holiday. We found it appropriate to quote from the “Proclamation of Thanksgiving” issued by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863. With the issuance of this letter, Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed as a national holiday in the United States of America.

“. . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union
. . .”
Proclamation of Thanksgiving
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

Therefore, it is our duty as faithful of the Apostolic Church and as law-abiding citizens of the United States of America to forever remember the true spirit of Thanksgiving: being thankful and praising the Lord not once a year but always. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell all thy wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High (Psalms 9:1-3).

Let your lives then, my dear faithful, be a life a thanksgiving to God at all times and in everything. And let us truly be thankful for our blessings. But let’s make sure that, as we give thanks, we remember our responsibilities towards God and our families. May the Grace of God be with you forever, Amen.
-Archbishop Clemis Eugene Kaplan


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The Western Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, providing spiritual guidance and leadership to the Syriac Orthodox community, is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization comprised of 18 churches and parishes in 17 western states. It was established in 1952 as the Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church encompassing the entire United States and Canada. In November 1995 by the Holy Synod, the Western Archdiocese was formed to exclusively serve the 17 states of the western half United States.

417 E. Fairmount Rd., Burbank, CA 91501
Tel: (818) 845-5089 Fax: (818) 953-7203
E-mail: bishopric@soc-wus.org


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