This past Saturday was my birthday, and John and I spent the weekend in Waco with my parents. We had a great visit, and I felt grateful for the time with family and the time away to renew and recharge. On Sunday, I attended church at St. Alban’s Episcopal in Waco, where I often go when I’m in town. I’ve known the priest and some of the congregants there for a number of years, so it’s always a blessing to get to see folks I usually only get to see a few times a year.
The center of worship in an Episcopal service is the celebration of Holy Communion, usually called Eucharist in that tradition. In Greek, the word “eucharist” means “thanksgiving,” and I was struck once again by the connection of giving thanks at Christ’s table and giving thanks at our own tables each year and each day. As we gathered to receive the bread and wine, all kinds of people were welcomed—young and old, black, white, and brown, gay and straight, long-time church member and newcomer. The vision of thanksgiving at Christ’s table is a vision where all are welcomed and there is enough for all. We give thanks for the grace of being reminded that we are loved, and that abundance is the vision of God’s kingdom.
That’s the kind of thanksgiving I want to celebrate this year, and each day of life. So, thank you Friends Church, for continually reminding me that I am loved and that there is plenty for all.
In recent years, I’ve made a habit of offering the prayer below on Thanksgiving, written by Diana Butler Bass, from her book “Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks.” May it bless you this Thanksgiving, and may you know that you are loved and you are welcomed. This year, may we all choose gratitude.
“God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we are alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world, or with our neighbors.
We struggle to feel grateful.
But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude. We choose to accept life as a gift from you, from the unfolding work of all creation. We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.
We make the choice to see our ancestors, those who came before us, and their stories, as a continuing gift of wisdom for us today. We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating them for who they are, and be thankful for our homes whether humble or grand. We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted or how much we feel
hurt by them. We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the public stage of the future of humankind and creation.
God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it.
And we will make thanks, with strong hands and courageous hearts. When we see your sacred generosity, we become aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose to see grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere, as the tender web of all creation. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.
Thus, with you, and with all those gathered here, we pledge to make thanks. And we ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around this table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.