Bread, Wine, and Pies, Oh My!
Dr. Micah Jackson (@FrMicah) serves as the Bishop John Hines Associate Professor of Preaching and the Dean of Community Life at Seminary of the Southwest. Micah also serves on the faculty of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation's Preaching Excellence Program.
Those of us who are careful observers of the Church Calendar know that there are several kinds of days. There are the ordinary, or ferial, days. There are days of fasting or abstinence. And, of course, there are feast days. These days of joy stand as a reminder that even in the midst of trouble and difficulty, there are always reasons to celebrate.
American Culture is no stranger to feast days. There are many civil feasts, such as Super Bowl Sunday or Memorial Day, when our nation pauses to celebrate together. Likewise, the Church has such days as Mardi Gras, St. Andrew's Day, and the two great feasts, Christmas and Easter. But there are very few occasions when these two calendars come together. Thanksgiving is one such time.
Since the 19th Century, the American people have paused on a Thursday in November to gather with family and friends, eat a large meal, and give thanks for all that we have. The Episcopal Church has adopted this civil feast as a major occasion on its calendar. Of course, Chrisitans are no strangers to thanksgiving. That's what Eucharist means. Whenever we gather to bless the bread and wine and share it in Christ's name, we always begin with thanksgiving. And that's as it should be.
Here at Seminary of the Southwest we celebrate the Eucharist often. But when the fourth Thursday in November comes around, we do it up big. It starts in our chapel with Eucharist, but our celebration moves quickly to our dining hall where around 150 people eat, laugh, and continue to give thanks for all God's blessings--family, friends, food, faith, all of it.
When I was growing up, my family loved to celebrate Thanksgiving. But here at Southwest, I have come to love even more the way we do it. Bread and wine, turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, and all the many dishes brought by the other guests. It is truly an image of God's heavenly banquet.