Thanksgiving and Advent Prayers

By Chuck Griffin

I pray you all have a happy and joyous Thanksgiving tomorrow! This Sunday is an important day, too, marking the first Sunday of Advent, that season of expectation and preparation as we move toward the Christmas season.

During Advent, I am going to provide a daily prayer guide, written along the lines of what was offered throughout September. There will be morning, noon and evening prayers, daily Scripture readings (mostly from the Revised Common Lectionary), and other resources.

Blessings on all of you as we give thanks and move into a time where we celebrate hope, peace, joy and love.

Here’s a prayer I’ve written for use on Thanksgiving Day with family and friends:

Dear Lord, we come to you in this blessed gathering bound by love. As we pause to give thanks, we first consider the great gift you offer us, the gift of eternal life! Thank you for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Sin and death are defeated, and the abundant grace we are offered in their place is almost beyond comprehension. We also give thanks for the blessings we have now in this temporary world: shelter, plenty of food, and possessions and security that go far beyond our request for our daily bread. As we count our rich blessings this day, help us to consider how you may call us to be a blessing on your behalf in the lives of others. We pray all of this in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.

Psalm 118, Meditation 2

Psalm 118 (NRSV)

By John Grimm

I remember my youth Sunday School teacher, Bill, reminding us that we can give thanks to God each day.  Whether we thank God for something large or small, we can show our appreciation to God.  In this “Song of Victory,” we start by giving thanks to God.  It is a general call for thanksgiving.

As we move through the first four verses of Psalm 118, we see that the call for thanksgiving becomes more specific.  The second group encouraged to give thanks is Israel.  As we ponder what God has brought Israel from, through, and to, we can recognize they know the steadfast love of God does endure! 

The house of Aaron is the next group to be encouraged to give thanks.  Yes, Aaron did lead the Israelites to make the golden calf.  However, God’s steadfast love was given so he and his descendants could know God’s forgiveness.  Yes, even those who lead in the worship of God can give thanks.  For we clergy who lead worship, our worship begins when we too can give thanks to God for his steadfast love.

The last group in our selection today is those who fear the Lord.  This group can contain members of the previous two groups mentioned.  It can also contain those who are now called Christians!  Even our neighbors who do not subscribe to organized religion may be in the group of those who fear the Lord.

Despite our best efforts, Christians can harm people who are seeking faith in God.  When these people have a respect for the Lord, they do not tolerate Christians who have harmed them.  Hopefully, those turned off by organized religion may recognize the steadfast love of the Lord and join Christians in giving thanks to God.

Have we been giving thanks to God every day of our lives?  Do we encourage other people to give thanks to God for his steadfast love?  As long as the earth has seasons, we will know the steadfast love of God!

Lord, you do have steadfast love for us!  You are good to me and everyone else.  Thank you for being in our lives.  May we open our eyes to your steadfast love, even when others have harmed us.  In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving

Psalm 63:5-9 (NRSV)

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

By John Grimm

We are ready!  We have our minds set on turkey and fixings.  We are looking forward to the pie—whether it be pumpkin, pecan, apple, or mincemeat!  We are glad it is time to feast. 

Why are we ready to feast?  God has been providing for us!  We are satisfied by God in our waking—whatever time we are awake.  For when we awaken in the middle of the night and can not get back to sleep, it is prime time to concentrate on the Lord.  This time is when we have a rich feast, and our mouths are full of praise.

I believe the hymn title is: “Count Your Blessings.”  God shelters us, and that’s a blessing we can count multiple times!  We cling to God by noticing how much the Lord does for us.  There is nothing like knowing God’s right hand upholds us!

Lord God, thank you satisfying our souls.  Lying in bed, thinking of you and your work in our lives brings joy to us.  As we know you, may our friends and family notice our contentment in you.  May we have more reasons to be thankful as friends and family find satisfaction in you.  In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray for joy for our friends and family this Thanksgiving.  Amen.

Redeemed from Trouble

Psalm 107:1-3 (NRSV)

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

By John Grimm

It is fascinating to hear the statement: “You are not from around here.”

My accent shows that I am not from around here.  As we are preparing to live in the kingdom of God, then each redeemed person will know that we are not from around here!  It will be a joy to tell the Lord how good he is when we are living fully in the kingdom of God.

In the meantime, we get to give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love.  It is now, today, that we can say that the Lord has redeemed us from trouble.  Was that trouble of our own making, an addiction or decision we made?  Was that trouble of someone else’s making, an accident or a decision they made, and we allowed ourselves to sin in response to those circumstances?  Through Jesus Christ, we discover that we are redeemed, brought out of trouble.  We get to say that Jesus has redeemed us.

Even today, we can hear how the Lord has redeemed people from all over the world.  It is a time of thanksgiving when we hear how God has redeemed people not from around here.  No matter our accent, we can give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love redeeming us from trouble.  Will we start saying that we are redeemed so people not from around here can know the goodness of the Lord?

Lord, thank you for being good.  Your steadfast love endures forever.  You are redeeming people from all over the world.  Gather these redeemed people in our local churches so we can start living in your kingdom even now.  Guide us in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.