Happy Thanksgiving

"Cornucopia", CC photo by brownpau

Almighty God,
Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you
for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray,
give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up ourselves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages.

A Novel Idea: Thanksgiving Cards

I got a wild hair on Sunday afternoon and decided to send all the people I work with Thanksgiving cards.  I work in full time ministry, teaching at a private school, and we all consider this our mission field.  It might not work out the same for you if you’re in an office or a more secular line of work.  It all started because our high school principal is under the added strain of preparing for this accreditation year.  I sent him a little note on Facebook to let him know he is appreciated.  I decided to send another little note to our choir director, who puts in a lot of extra hours outside of the usual 8 -3 schedule.  It didn’t seem right to thank a couple of people when so many do lots of extra little things that for the most part go unnoticed.  So I had an epiphany – send a personal note of thanksgiving to everyone.

I had planned to buy a pack of blank Thank You notes from Wal-Mart, but came back from town Sunday (it’s a 30 min. trip) and forgot.  I did what any school teacher would have done in that situation.  I used the letter die machine to stamp out 50 or so cards in the shape of turkeys.  I hand wrote just 2 or 3 sentences on each card, and ended each one the same way: “I thanked God for you today.”  Then I signed my name.  It was a trivial amount of effort.

Sometimes just knowing that anyone at all notices is enough to make a difference.  I know what’s it’s like to work long hours, late at night, on the weekend, etc. and wonder if it even matters to anyone at all.  Nicole Nordeman sings I Want to Leave a Legacy, and says “We all need an atta’ boy or atta’ girl.”  Many people told me it made their day.  Giving thanks is certainly biblical.  Thanking God of course, but we are also told to edify or build up the body of Christ.  Thanksgiving is just as Christian, if not more so, than our celebration of Christmas.  This weekend is the first Sunday of Advent; Christmas is almost a lost cause, but I digress.

The truth is, December is a busy month.  Every group, organization, church, Sunday school class, etc, et al and so forth wants to have a party, a hymn sing, a tree lighting or some type of festivity.  It can be a blessing and a curse.  Live in a community surrounded by Christians and you can work yourself to death just trying to make an appearance at everything.  I also have final exams and grades to get out before leaving for the holiday break.  So… sometimes we get Christmas cards out and sometimes not.  Everyone will get dozens of Christmas cards; do you actually open and read each and every one?  Thanksgiving cards just seemed like the right thing to do.

A Thanksgiving Day Collect

Almighty and gracious Father,
we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Source: Thanksgiving Day Collect, The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church: Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David: According to the Use of the Episcopal Church (New York: The Church Hymnal Corp., 1979), 194/246.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I posted this last year, but I think it deserves a second reading.

Let us give thanks for this moment:
For the constancy of your love,
For Your mercy that surrounds us,
For those free gifts which you give so often.

Let us give thanks:
For pleasures which comfort,
For pains which force our growth,
For the capacity to learn and to praise,
For your image, O God, within us.

Let us give thanks for one another:
For being together,
For celebrating healing and life together,
For differences which complement and complete,
For gifts which enrich, and disagreements which challenge,
For our oneness in Christ.

Let us give thanks:
For dreams and freedom,
For forgiveness we have experienced in Jesus Christ,
For the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

Let us give thanks for our call and commitment:
For the gift to hear your Word addressed to us,
For the gift of commitment to follow what is proclaimed,
For the call to free those who are poor and oppressed,
For the grace to learn to trust you more,
For oneness in our brokenness,
For your steadfast love that makes us whole and holy.

We give thanks to You, O God. Amen