Sit down and reflect on year’s events
The Rev. Josh Longbottom, associate pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
Thanksgiving is a reminder to look back over the year and remember the ways that we have been blessed.
You might have to sit down and relax, watch the leaves turning and falling from a desk by a window, grab a pen and paper and spend awhile reflecting: What happened over the last year? What am I really grateful for? You might take a walk and do the same thing or have this conversation with your family or friends. Whichever way seems best to you probably is best for you.
Thanksgiving could be a great practice.
Being grateful, according to my understanding of Martin Luther, is ideally the central practice of a life of faith. I learned the idea from him that God’s love has nothing to do with being deserved — it is just grace. He also said that when we are open to it, we live in a state of gratitude, and from that gratitude we become gracious people to others.
To me, the ideal Thanksgiving prayer would be to live in gratitude and treat everyone this Thanksgiving with the kind of grace that I know of from God’s love for me. Whatever form, practice, prayer or incantation you need to do to get there this Thanksgiving sounds good to me as well.
The Hebrew scriptures are of full of images of God’s grace. My favorite images are the house with room for everyone and the table where everyone is invited to sit down and share in the meal.
Maybe the best prayer this Thanksgiving would be to find a way to make your Thanksgiving table a table of grace and for everyone to feel the kind of unconditional love and welcome that we get from above.
— Send e-mail to Josh Longbottom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use holiday to count your blessings
The Rev. Maria Campbell, pastor, Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Mass.:
The ideal way to begin praying is to offer thanksgiving. These prayers can be shared around the table with family and friends or spoken in the privacy of your heart. One thing is certain: You have many reasons to give thanks. When you express gratitude for the countless joys you experience, you are acknowledging God’s blessings. Each day is an opportunity for you to transform your life and the lives of others. I offer the following prayer as a way for you to begin praying with thanksgiving.
Gracious God, thank you for this amazing world, which provides for my every need.
Thank you for each sunrise, which declares the promise of another beginning as it splashes brilliant light across the sky.
Every drop of water is a gift that quenches my thirst and sustains life.
Thank you for times when my plate was empty so I could learn compassion for those who are hungry. Remind me, Holy One, that I cannot be satisfied until all people have food on their plates.
The brisk wind that sends shivers down my spine is a reason to shout praises, for it prompts me to seek just solutions for those without shelter.
Thank you for comforting my spirit in times of trouble so I might learn to offer hope to others.
I praise you Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, for you are the source of all my thanksgiving.
Since prayer is communication with God, another way to express your thanksgiving is to make your life a prayer of thanksgiving. Bring food to a local food pantry. Serve a meal at a food kitchen. Donate blankets and coats before winter descends. Invite someone without family to share a thanksgiving meal with you. Be the neighbor that you would like to have. And do it all knowing that it is but a small token of thanksgiving for the bounty you have received.
— Send e-mail to Maria Campbell at email@example.com.