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Archive for Saturday, November 23, 2013

Faith Forum: I’m supposed to give the blessing at Thanksgiving dinner this year. What do I say?

November 23, 2013

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'Thank you' is enough

David and Edna Mosher, co-ministers of Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeleine Ln.:

Thanksgiving is a holiday unique in its focus on gratitude. From the first proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 we are encouraged to be grateful for the “gracious gifts of the Most High God.” In so doing we gather with family and friends to eat of an abundant table and share our lives with those we love. And, if your family is like mine, we have a broad range of religious/philosophical beliefs gathered around the table. How then are we to find common ground in a “blessing?”

Meister Eckhart, a 14th century Dominican theologian and philosopher, once observed, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” Consciously connecting to our gratitude and saying “thank you” is the common ground that bridges all differences. Unity believes that God is always present with and in us. Our grateful prayer then becomes our deliberate choice to be open to God’s Presence.

One of the traditions in our own family is to precede the blessing prayer with the opportunity for each family member to share a word or thought of how they feel blessed. This lets each person accept their own gratitude as we share in saying thank you to our Divine Creator for the many blessings we have experienced.

Do we all agree in one theology? No, and we can still come together in gratitude, invite our loved ones to bow their heads, acknowledge their Creator, whatever they each perceive that power to be, and say “Thank you.” And it is enough.

— Send email to David Mosher at revdavid@unityoflawrence.org and send email to Edna Mosher at revedna@unityoflawrence.org.

Finding peace through gratitude

Dana Ortiz, executive director of Lawrence Family Promise:

The Thanksgiving blessing is a wonderful tradition. As in many families, my own family each shares something they are thankful for. The usual items expressed are for family, friends, love, employment and health.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 118:1 (esv)

At Family Promise, we hear expressions from thankful hearts every day. The families served are thankful to be safely housed, for the network of faith communities who serve 365 days of the year by preparing food, playing, listening and loving through service. We hear how grateful the guests are for this generosity of spirit, for the good food and warm hospitality.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1Thess 5:16-19 (esv)

The Family Promise staff and volunteers are also grateful to our guests, who teach us daily, the importance of a thankful heart. Strangely, thanksgiving is an attitude frequently best purified through struggle. It goes well beyond a day to give thanks, beyond the situation or the difficulties of any circumstance of life. A thankful attitude looks deeply inward, beyond the struggle and pain, and finds a peace through gratitude. That peace points toward hope. The example of hope, a heart of thanksgiving and a faith stronger than the circumstances are gifts given by the guests of Family Promise, for which we are truly grateful.

So this year, I will join in grateful expectation of the hope and peace so beautifully expressed in the book of Philippians and taught clearly by the guests and volunteers of Family Promise:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. … The LORD is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (esv)

— Send email to Dana Ortiz at dana@lawrencefamilypromise.org.

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