This week is Thanksgiving week in the United States. Within COVID restrictions, we will gather with our family on Thursday, enjoy a vast meal together, and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the year. I suspect, though, that our “gratitude” is often too limited to this day on the calendar. I admit my own failure here, and here are some reasons we’re not a very thankful people.
- We’re raised to work hard and to accomplish things on our own. There’s nothing wrong with individual commitment and effort, of course, but sometimes we assume that we’re responsible for anything we’ve accomplished. When that’s the case, we have less reason to be grateful.
- We’ve not truly seen a lifestyle of gratitude modeled. Our parents often taught to us say “thank you” when we were kids. We still know it’s polite to say those words, but seldom have we seen someone who just oozes gratitude—who knows without question that he or she is nothing without Christ.
- We have greedy and covetous hearts. That is, we usually want more, and we often want more than someone else has. The world pushes us in that direction (e.g., “Get all you can get”), but we won’t be grateful when we’re constantly seeking more.
- We think about being grateful for the big things – the unexpected, the miraculous, the highly significant things in our lives – not the daily little things we take for granted. We know we must say “Thank You” to God when He amazingly intervenes in our lives; we forget, though, to be thankful for our everyday, “routine” blessings from the Lord.
- We don’t realize just how blessed we are. I know the situations of my readers will vary, but most of us are blessed with material blessings far beyond what much of the world is. Just having food on our table, a roof over our heads, and clothing on our back makes us blessed. We have reason to be grateful.
- We who are church leaders don’t know how to deal with church members who let us down. It happens, and it happens often. When we allow ourselves to get wounded and scarred, however, we won’t be grateful for God’s people. We won’t love them with the love the apostle Paul had even for the church at Corinth (1 Cor 16:24).
- We fail to see expressing thanks as a daily act of worship. The psalmist put it this way: “I will thank the Lord with all my heart” (Psa 9:1) and “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song” (Psa 28:7). Paul captured it this way: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18). True gratitude is true worship.
Would you pray for me this week that I would be more grateful? Thanks for being a reader of this blog!
One of the benefits of short-term mission trips is that these trips show US Christians how blessed they are. They realize what they take for granted, a lot of people in other countries do not have. Often the trip will inspire in them a new sense of thankfulness and gratitude. What I will miss this Thanksgiving and which I have missed for a number of years is a harvest thanksgiving service at church. The sanctuary is decorated with sheaves of grain and local produce and prayers are offered in thanksgiving for the harvest. I lived in England the early years of my life and in England they do not celebrate Thanksgiving–or Turkey Day as it has come to be called, they had harvest thanksgiving services. Here is a selection of prayers for harvest thanksgiving:
After the General Thanksgiving, which is always used at times of thanksgiving for the blessing of the harvest, the following Thanksgiving may be said:
O Lord God of Hosts, you dwell in the high and holy place, and yet you watch over the lowly; you make the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and send rain on the just and unjust; by your mighty power you order all things in heaven and earth. We give you heartfelt thanks that you have safely brought us to the season of harvest, visiting the earth and blessing it, and crowning the year with your goodness. We praise you for the fruits of the ground which you have bestowed upon us, filling our hearts with gladness. For these and all your mercies we praise and magnify your glorious name; beseeching you to sow the seed of your Word in our hearts, and pour upon us the continual dew of your blessing: so that we may abundantly bear the fruits of the Spirit, and at the last great day be gathered into your heavenly storehouse; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, is all honour and glory, now and for evermore. AMEN.
For the Collect of the Day the following Collect may be said:
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us the fruits of the earth in their season; grant us grace to use them to your glory, the relief of those in need, and our own comfort, through Jesus Christ, who is the living bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world; to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, is all honour and glory, now and for ever. AMEN.
Immediately before the Blessing at Morning and Evening Prayer and at the Lord’s Supper the following prayer may be said:
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise that you have again fulfilled your gracious promise, that while the earth remains, seed-time and harvest will not fail. We bless you for the kindly fruits of the earth which you have given for our use. Teach us, we pray, to remember that we do not live by bread alone; and grant that we may always feed on the true bread from heaven, Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and for ever. AMEN.