The Epiphany Season
Many of my colleagues provided music at Thanksgiving Day services this morning. It is one of my favorite services of the whole year.
The Thanksgiving Day Eucharists I've been involved with tend to be a bit smaller than a typical Sunday morning Eucharist.
Definition of the word Eucharist Eucharist is Greek for "Thanksgiving," and is the preferred formal term in the Episcopal Church for Holy Communion.
A few years ago I attended a Thanksgiving Day Eucharist at the Cathedral in Asheville, North Carolina, and the church was completely full! There are other places where going to church on Thanksgiving morning has become "the thing to do".
And so this morning at St. Peter's, while we may not have had as many of the faithful in the pews as some other places, we were probably one of the very few churches (or the only?) that added to their number.
We had two infant baptisms this morning.
The association with Eucharist is an easy one to make. But the association with Baptism also seemed good to us who were gathered at St. Peter's.
There's a hymn that seems to have only appeared in the last two Episcopal hymnals (and nowhere else) that is often sung on Thanksgiving: "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing".
It is our custom to sing a hymn immediately prior to the Baptism, and this was the hymn I chose for today.
At the end of the first stanza we sing "he forgets not his own", which seems fitting.
The second stanza of this hymn seemed to speak more directly to the Sacrament of Baptism than I had previously thought.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine; so from the beginning the fight we were winning: thou, Lord, wast at our side: all glory be thine!
Hymn 433, stanza 2.
Words: Nederlandtsche Gedenckclanck, 1626; trans. Theodore Baker (1851-1934)
How wonderful that God joins these children to the Church and so ordains and maintains his kingdom.
And that from the very beginning they have won the fight.
For this act we should be truly, unfeignedly thankful.
"O Lord, make us free!"
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