Thanksgiving 2018

The calendar gives us an unusual gift this year. More often than not, Thanksgiving weekend is also the First Sunday of Advent. Most of us are still eating leftover turkey when the church shifts liturgical gears into the season of preparation for the birth of Christ.

Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle.

But this year is different. Thanksgiving was on November 22, the very earliest it can be, and a full 10 days before Advent begins.

Retailers are happy because it means the official Christmas shopping season is more than a week longer than usual. But I like it because it means we can make today part of a full weekend of Thanksgiving before heading into Advent next Sunday.

So today I would like to share with you two special Thanksgiving prayers.

The first is by Diana Butler Bass, who spent a weekend with us in Lent talking about her new book, Grateful. Here is her Thanksgiving prayer:

“God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak, confusing. God, we struggle to feel grateful.

“But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.

“We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.

“We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.

“We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, grateful for their stories and struggles, and we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.

“We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating and accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.

“We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted, whatever our differences, or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.

“We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the stage of the future of humankind and creation.

“God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it. We will make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say ‘thank you.’

“We choose to see your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received.

“We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere.

“In this choosing and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.

“Thus with you, and with all those gathered at this table, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our family table. Around the table of your altar. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.

“We choose thanks.

“Amen.”

The second is a prayer for Thanksgiving by Vienna Cobb Anderson, one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church. You may have read it in your email last week, but I think it is worth hearing again on this Thanksgiving weekend:

God of all blessings,
source of all life.
giver of all grace:

We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the family and friends
without whom there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty
that the eye can see,
for the joy
that the ear may hear,
for the unknown
that we cannot behold
filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space
that draws us beyond the definitions of ourselves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:
for families
who nurture our becoming,
for friends
who love us by choice,
for companions at work
who share our burdens and daily tasks,
for strangers
who welcome us into our midst,
for people from other lands
who call us go grow in understanding,
for children
who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:
for life
and one more day to love,
for opportunity
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
for neighbors
and one more person to love
and by whom to be loved,
for your grace
and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us
to be our God
and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.

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