To the Reverend Clergy, Parish Councils, Youth Organizations, Philoptochos Society, and the faithful members of the Holy Metropolis of San Francisco

Beloved in the Lord,

Once again Thanksgiving Day approaches, giving us the opportunity to spread festive joy in our homes, experience the happiness that appears when family members come together for the holiday dinner, and exchange good wishes and warm embraces with loved ones.

It is a time when our hands, our hearts, and our very souls rise up to the Creator, the giver of “every perfect gift”, in a celebration of true thanksgiving. This expression of thanks includes the blessings which we take for granted such as temperate weather, greeting a stranger, and the smile of a traveler who passes by. Yet, not only do we overlook the obvious, but we tend to neglect the more immediate blessings we receive from above: our health, our employment, our place in society, our profession, our fluency, the development of our children, our family unity, our parish, our churches, our schools, our philanthropic institutions, and so many other blessings which we enjoy.

Have we ever stopped to realize that all these blessings are gifts from God? Have we ever reflected back to our parents, our relatives, and all those individuals who made it possible for us to be in the enviable position we find ourselves today?  They are the ones who gave us our life, our name, our highly honored legacy, and the privilege of being Orthodox Christians.  As we reflect on these things, our desire, indeed, is to express special thanks to Almighty God on Thanksgiving Day. It is proper to do so; for He is a gracious God Who shows no partiality and Who showers His blessings upon sinners and the virtuous, upon the righteous and the unrighteous. In return, God wants only one thing from us: to do good in imitation of His goodness. In this way God will be pleased with us; for we will be expressing goodness and concern toward those who hope for it.

It is especially important to remember the many people in California who have endured the devastating fires, and witnessed the destruction of their earthly possessions. When we gather on this Thanksgiving holiday, let us remember in prayer those whose lives have been affected by this tragedy, asking the Lord for His special blessings upon them and their loved ones, and giving thanks to God for their safekeeping.

Our Lord’s command, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) and St. Paul’s words to His disciple Titus, “This is a faithful saying and these things I want you to affirm constantly that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8), are both exhortations written for us. Let us then use our resources to express fellowship with one another, as God does with all His creation. This would certainly cast beauty upon Thanksgiving Day and would fortify our sincerity in expressing thanks to God.

In the final analysis, such good works are most needed by a vast number of people, and are surely expected by God. The sick, the poor, the needy, the lonely, the hungry, the rejected, the homeless, the disabled, those in prison, the victims of injustices, the oppressed; all await our good works. Our thoughts, and especially our tangible concern for them, transformed into action on Thanksgiving Day and every other day, would make each day truly a day of thanksgiving filled with every blessing.This is the kind of Thanksgiving Day, a day replete with joy, blessings, and peace, I wish you, my beloved people, to experience with your loved ones and your invited guests on November 27.With warmest thanks for the love and joy which you have given to our Church and to your beloved parishes, I embrace you.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco