Faith Forum: I’m supposed to give the blessing at Thanksgiving dinner; what do I say?
The Rev. Paul Taylor, associate pastor, Mustard Seed Church, 700 Wakarusa Road:
If you are “the one” to give the Thanksgiving blessing, you have a great opportunity ahead of you! Here are a few tips to make it memorable.
Think through ahead of time whom and what you are thankful for; perhaps make a list for your own benefit. When it is time, speak from your heart and express genuine thankfulness and give several examples. Remember to give credit to the source of your blessings. Include appreciation for those who have provided the Thanksgiving meal. The Pilgrims before us were thankful not simply because of the abundance of food, they were also thankful because God had brought them through great hardship.
If you look carefully in your own life, you too will find hidden blessings in spite of any hardship you may have experienced this year. Thankfulness is an attitude of the heart that finds “the good” in the middle of the difficult. Being thankful and expressing appreciation is healing for us and can change the atmosphere of any special gathering. Just remember, giving thanks is the heart of Thanksgiving!
— Send email to Paul Taylor at email@example.com.
The Rev. Nate Rovenstine, pastor, Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway:
When we give thanks, we often start with people or things that are close to our heart. I am very thankful for my beautiful wife, my three amazing daughters, and even my new son-in-law. They are close to my heart, and when I give thanks, I start there. But I shouldn’t stop there. Restricting the content of our Thanksgiving prayers to things close to our hearts can be dangerous. Thanksgiving that generates only from our hearts tends to be narcissistic or manipulative. It tends to focus on our accomplishments, or the things that we are most comfortable with. It tends to be self-serving. It might be a way to impress or influence.
As we contemplate our Thanksgiving prayers this year, perhaps we should base them on something more objective. I would suggest the Bible. When you go to Scriptures, you find plenty of permission to give thanks for those things that are close to your heart. But you are also challenged to give thanks for things that might make us uncomfortable. We should be thankful for God’s justice, even when that justice crushes our self-sufficiency. We should be thankful for suffering, because the path to growth often travels through suffering. We see this in Christ, whose suffering made it possible for us to be in right relationship with God. It is easy to be thankful for mercy received, but the Bible challenges us to be thankful when we give it. Who isn’t thankful for love? But the Bible redefines love as selfless sacrifice, going the extra mile, turning the other cheek. Scripture challenges us to forgive, serve, wash feet, and to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
As we offer our prayers of Thanksgiving this year, let’s focus not only on what our heart feels, but on what the Bible says.
— Send email to Nate Rovenstine at firstname.lastname@example.org.