Dear Colleagues in Ministry:
“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 pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” -BCP collect for Thanksgiving Day
Years ago I was looking for a new, “prayers of the people”, to use at our Thanksgiving Day Eucharist. I wanted a way that honored the day and was personal to the congregation. What my staff and I came up with was to give everyone in the congregation a 3×5 card when they came into the church; then, during the sermon, I invited people to sit with the question: What are you thankful for? During the offertory the cards were collected. Just before starting the Eucharistic prayer, I stood at the altar with other clergy and lay readers and we took the cards and read them out to the congregation (the people knew this was going to happen before they wrote on the cards). What an amazing outpouring of gratitude in wonderful and unexpected ways. This became standard Thanksgiving practice for many years in that congregation.
So, what are you thankful for?
This week I celebrated with St. Paul, Oregon City. The day was beautiful, the church full of people, and we did a good deal of confirming and receiving into the Episcopal Church. This community seems to be on the move; alive and vibrant! Thanks be to God, to the clergy, and to the lay leaders who are a part of all that is occurring at St. Paul’s. One of the many things we spoke of was how the work on the outside of the building in plantings and the like make a clear statement about the spirit of holiness to be found on the inside. I found myself slowing down and centering myself simply as I walked toward the front door; the grounds spoke to me of God’s presence. A simple and subtle thing but it worked!
May God bless you this Thanksgiving Day and may you find yourself grateful for the abundance of God’s gifts so freely given to us.