11/25/15

Pause for Prayer: THANKSGIVING


In between rushing about the kitchen, setting the table, greeting guests, traveling to visit family and friends, watching the game and crashing on the sofa - we all need to pause and pray on this day for giving thanks...  This post includes a grace before dinner, a prayer by an empty chair, a midday prayer for Thanksgiving and a prayer for later in the afternoon...

Grace Before Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Saying Grace - Norman Rockwell

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation!   

Through your goodness we have so much
for which to give you thanks and praise...

Make us grateful for all you've given us;
may our desire for more not blind us to all we have...

Make us grateful for all who love us;
may no grudge or anger keep us distant
from family and friends, neighbors and colleagues... 

Make us grateful for those who are with us;
may no grief isolate us from their loving embrace...

Make us grateful for the good work we have done:
may our mistakes and failures not weigh us down
or blind us to your mercy... 

Make us grateful for the freedom we enjoy;
may we never take it for granted...

Make us grateful for the peace we find in you;
let no other cause or victory take its place...

Make us grateful for our dreams;
let no disappointment keep us from hope... 

Make us grateful for our faith in you;
let no doubt cloud our trusting in your love...

Make us grateful for the meal we are about to share
and mindful of any and all who have so much less... 

Nourish and strengthen us
to change what keeps so many hungry
while others, like us, have more than we need...

Give us grateful hearts, O God, to praise and thank you:
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,
in plenty and in want, in sorrow and in joy...

This is the day you have made, O Lord:
let us be glad and rejoice in it
and give you thanks and praise! 

Amen.

 Praying with an empty chair at the table...


A Prayer at an Empty Chair 

This Thanksgiving, Lord, 
there’ll be an empty chair at our table,
an ache in our hearts
and tears on our cheeks...

We might shield others from our grief
but we can't hide it from you...

We pray for  (name your loved ones) 
whose loving presence we'll miss 
at this homecoming time...

Help us remember and tell again 
the stories that knit us as one
with the ones we miss so much...

Open our hearts to joyful memories 
of the love we shared
with those who've gone before us...

Let the bonds you forged so deep in our hearts
grow stronger yet 
in remembering those who've left our side... 

Help us pray and trust that those we miss
have a home in your heart
and a place at your table forever
and that one day we'll be one with them
once again...

Teach us to lean on you and on one another
for the strength we need 
to walk through these difficult days...

Open our eyes and our hearts 
to the healing, the warmth
and the peace of your presence...

Give us quiet moments with you in prayer,
with our memories and loss,
with our thoughts and tears...

Be with us to console us 
and hold us in your arms
as you hold the ones we miss...

Even in our grief, Lord,
this is the day that you have made:
help us be glad in the peace you've promised,
the peace we pray you share 
with those who've gone before us...

For ourselves, Lord,
and for all who find the holidays to be a difficult time,
we make this prayer...

Amen.
 

A Midday Prayer on Thanksgiving
 

It's Thanksgiving Day...

Today I thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith:
that strength, power and source within
showing me the way,
guiding me in the dark,
making sure my faltering step,
giving light for finding truth
and hope for living gracefully
through trials and troubled times...

Today I thank you, Lord,  
for the gift of your Church:
that wounded, rag-tag, joyful company of saints and sinners
whose faith is my strength, binding us all together,
brothers and sisters in you and in your love...

Today I thank you, Lord, for all the people around me
and those behind me and before me:
the ones who've helped to make me the person I've become;
those who've loved me in ways too many to know or to imagine;
those who've loved me when I've failed to love them in return;
those who've pardoned and forgiven me with mercy and with grace;
those who've shared their joy with me, who fill my heart with peace
and who help me trust and know with hope
that you are ever by my side...

And today I thank you, Lord,
for all the people I have yet to meet
but will...

Today I thank you, Lord, for the mystery of your presence:
in everyone I know and meet;
in the simplest and most ordinary moments of each day;
and in the stillness, in the quiet
of the time I spend with you in prayer...

Today I praise and thank you, Lord,
for you are my God
from whom all blessings flow...

Amen. 



A poem for later on Thanksgiving Day

Image source

From a friend who's a teacher, singer and poet, a reflection to share at the end of Thanksgiving Day...
This is the fifth year I've posted John's poem Thanksgiving and this year I'm pleased to add a video with John reading his own work and playing the background music. 




Thanksgiving

I am surprised sometimes
by the suddenness of November:
beauty abruptly shed
to a common nakedness--
grasses deadened
by hoarfrost,
persistent memories
of people I've lost.

It is left to those of us
dressed in the hard
barky skin of experience
to insist on a decorum
that rises to the greatness
of a true Thanksgiving.

This is not a game
against a badly scheduled team,
an uneven match on an uneven pitch.

This is Life.
This is Life.
This is Life.

Not politely mumbled phrases,
murmured with a practiced and meticulous earnestness.

Thanksgiving was born a breech-birth,
a screaming appreciation for being alive--
for not being one of the many
who didn't make it--
who couldn't moil through
another hardscrabble year
on tubers and scarce fowl.

Thanksgiving is for being you.
There are no thanks without you.

You are the power of hopeful promise;
you are the balky soil turning upon itself;
you are bursting forth in your experience.

You are not the person next to you--
not an image or an expectation.
You are the infinite and eternal you--
blessed, and loved, and consoled
by the utter commonness
and community of our souls.

We cry and we're held.
We love and we hold.

We are the harvest of God,
constantly renewed,
constantly awakened
to a new thanksgiving.
- John Fitzsimmons

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