The "holidays" will soon be here - and with them, an empty chair at our table...

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Thanksgiving is just a week away. Folks are making travel plans and menu choices... Some are looking forward to being together again with  family and friends they've not seen in some time... Others are remembering someone, some loved ones, who won't be at the table this year, whose chair will be empty, perhaps for the first time or for yet again another time...  For many, even for most of us, "the holidays" are a bittersweet time... a season when we should take care to be especially sensitive to others since we often don't know the burdens, heartache and memories they carry through the holiday season... So, here's my annual Thanksgiving post:Prayer at an Empty Chair. (Though truth be told, I tweak this text a little every year!)  I hope this prayer will help all of us prepare for Thanksgiving Day - I know it helps me... Some families have used this prayer as their grace before dinner on Thanksgiving Day and I know many have forwarded and posted this in a variety of ways.  As always, please feel free to share this and any prayer you find on my blog. (I only ask that you include the credit: ConcordPastor.blogspot.com)

  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, we might even succeed
in shielding our grief from others
- but we cannot hide our hearts from you...

So, today we pray for (name your loved ones) 
whose loving presence we miss
at this homecoming time...

Help us remember 
and tell again the stories
of all we shared with the very ones 
we miss so much...

Open our hearts to our joyful memories
of the times and love we knew and shared
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 among us 
grow stronger in our remembering 
our loved ones now gone home to you…

Help us trust in faith 
that those we miss so much
have a place now in your heart
and in heaven, a seat at your table...
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 today
time to share with you
our lonely tears of loss
and our memories, now the souvenirs
of joyful days gone by...

In all things, Lord, help us recall
today's the day that you have made!
Help us give thanks for all your gifts
especially for the peace we've known,
in family, friends and faith,
in those in whom we've found and known
your mercy and your love...

Thank You 
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