Father in heaven, thank you for your transforming presence in my life and in the world. Without you, I could never live in the ways you are calling me to live. My own instincts lead me to hold grudges, seek vengeance, complain, criticize, and yield to fear. My heart, left alone, wants to pick fights, build walls, and be right instead of loving. Help me, by your power and grace, to see my family, friends, community, and the world with your eyes and perspective. Give me the courage to love, build up, forgive, rejoice, pray, give thanks, and hold on to what is good.
May it be so.
For years I’ve longed for a more intentional experience around the Thanksgiving table. Of course, catching up and telling stories can be meaningful and create long-lasting memories. But often, conversation devolves into politics, sports, and gossip about neighbors, co-workers, or other family members. We lose sight of why we’re gathered and who it is we’re thanking. This year, I created (with some design help from my friend Jenna) a Thanksgiving table liturgy to help frame the table experience. The idea is that beautiful things can happen at the table when friends and family are gathered, but we often don’t know exactly how to turn our hearts to God or create a space that allows us to express our gratitude to Him and those gathered. The thing is, you don’t have to use the whole thing, you could just select the parts that you think will help those gathered with you–maybe just the discussion questions or the practice. Or maybe you are just looking for a Thanksgiving prayer. Anyway, to get the liturgy, just hit the link below, print out the document, and fold both pages in half.
May your Thanksgiving table be one at which holy and beautiful things happen, your friends and family leave feeling built up and encouraged, and our loving, gracious God is honored.
Thanksgiving Table Liturgy
This is a short work week for most people in the United States because of Thanksgiving. But it can be a tough week because for every perfect, turkey-laden table out there, there is a person sitting alone at home overcome with loneliness and sadness. For every smiling, happy family, there is a family in tatters, ready to fall apart because of old hurt, long-held grudges, and un-grace. There are three things I’m focusing on this week:
I’m trying to live out Ephesians 4:2. This is one of those verses that is easy to agree with and seemingly impossible to live. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” I want this to be true of me – that I would be humble and gentle with the people I see this week, including my family and friends. I want to be patient and make allowance for the faults of those around me; and I want to be met with patience and gentleness, and allowance for my own faults.
I’m inviting someone. I have been alone on Thanksgiving and I have looked around at my friends and wondered why no one invited me when they knew I would be alone. Inviting someone to your family meal changes the dynamics, and it may make other people uncomfortable, but the potential for demonstrating Christ’s love through an invite like that is sky-high. To be welcomed and loved, even for a short time, can change a life. It’s not a matter of feeling sorry for someone, it’s a matter of feeling love for them. I’m doing some inviting.
I’m thanking God on my knees with a list. This has been quite a year. As I think back over my year, I can’t do anything but fall on my knees in thanks, awe, and humility. This week, I’m going to be intentional about kneeling and listing out in thanks all the incredible blessings God has poured out on my life this year.
What does your week look like?
Is there someone you can invite?