In the technical breakdown of Pauline letters, which are simply Hellenistic letters with a Christianizing twist, they begin with a Salutation (senders, recipients, and grace) and then move on to the Thanksgiving (with the notable exception of Galatians). The Thanksgiving sets the tone for the letter and often telegraphs the intent and concerns of the letter. This portion of the letter is known as the Thanksgiving because it often begins with eucharisto, “I give thanks,” or “We give thanks” when Paul includes his co-writers.
The second reading for Thanksgiving, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, includes the grace from the end of the Salutation (“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”) and then the Thanksgiving to the Corinthian Church:
"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1:4-9)."
Paul’s thanks for the Church in Corinth focus on the gift, the grace, they have been given through Jesus Christ, the faithfulness of God, and the fellowship we share in Christ. As we give thanks for our families and friends, our material blessings, a couple of days free from work (hopefully), let us also thank God for the grace given, God’s faithfulness and the fellowship we share with our brothers and sisters. Happy Thanksgiving!
John W. Martens
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