Pause for Prayer: THANKSGIVING DAY 11/28

In between rushing about the kitchen, setting the table, greeting guests, traveling to visit family and friends, having dinner, watching the game, eating leftovers 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 reflection 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  having 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 resentment isolate us
from their loving embrace...

Make us grateful for the good work we've 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 ourselves,
have much 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! 


 Praying with an empty chair at the table...

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 try and even succeed
in shielding our grief from others
- but we cannot hide from you...

So, 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 of all we shared
with the ones we miss so much...

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

And with your gentle touch, Lord,
smooth and mend any ragged, broken edges
still in need of your merciful healing...

May the bonds you forged grow stronger
in our remembering those
who've now gone home to you…

Help us trust in faith that those we miss so much
have a place in your heart
and a seat at your table in heaven...

Deepen and strengthen our hope
that one day we'll see them once again
and enjoy their company and love...

Teach us, Lord, to lean on those around us
for the help and support we need
when our spirits flag and fail us…

Open our hearts and souls, Lord,
to the warmth of your presence,
within us and among us...

Be with us to console us and,
just as you embrace the ones we miss,
hold us, too, along with them,
in your everlasting arms...

Give us moments of quiet prayer:
time to share with you
our memories and our losses,
our thoughts and our tears...

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

We pray then, Lord, for all who know
the burdens this day brings:
we trust you'll hear and answer us
who give you thanks and praise...


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...


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 eighth year I've posted John's Thanksgiving poem and two years ago he provided a video of his reading his own work and playing the background music as well.


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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