A Happy Thanksgiving from St. Stephen’s!
On this Thanksgiving Day, we celebrate the plenty of our land given by God’s hand and we pray for a justice and love that shares that plenty with all in need.
In the blessing of this week we offer these prayers and readings for your use to grace your table and your meal, in whatever way you celebrate this day.
Simple Graces for All Ages:
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blest.
Blessed be God, who is our Bread: may all the world be clothed and fed. Amen.
Every good and perfect gift comes from you, O God. Bless this food, and help us to receive it with thankful hearts. By your Spirit nourish our love for one another and for our neighbor in need; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
A Prayer of Thanks: Almighty God of all mercies, we humbly thank you for your goodness to us and to all that you have made. We praise you for your creation, for keeping us and all things in your care, and for all the blessings of life. Above all we bless you for your immeasurable love in redeeming the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with thankful hearts we praise you, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving ourselves to your service and by living in your gifts of holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all worship and praise, now and forever.
A Prayer at Harvest: God, our creator, you have ordered seedtime and harvest, sunshine and rain. Give to all who work the land fair compensation for the work of their hands. Grant that the people of this and every nation may give thanks to you for food, drink, and all that sustains life; may use with care the land and water from which these good things come; and may honor the laborers who produce them; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Prayer in Times of Abundance: God of abundance, you have poured out a large measure of earthly blessings: our table is richly furnished, our cup overflows, and we live in safety and security. Teach us to set our hearts on you and not these material blessings. Keep us from becoming captivated by prosperity, and grant us in wisdom to use your blessings to your glory and to the service of humankind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Notes on Thanksgiving Day: For thousands of years, human communities have kept harvest festivals. Indeed, several of the annual celebrations described in the Old Testament were previously harvest festivals onto which the Israelites layered their tribe's historical memories. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of Thanksgiving, in hopes that such a festival might bring some unity to the North and the South. This holiday became attached to the memory of an autumn harvest festival held in 1621 in Plymouth colony, Massachusetts. Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, only 53 were alive a year later, but 90 Wampanoag came for the three-day celebration, bringing with them much of the food. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November to be a national Thanksgiving holiday. -- Gail Ramshaw
On Giving Thanks (From Luther’s Small Catechism): I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties. In addition, God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life. God protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil. And all this is done out of pure, paternal, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all! For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey God. This is most certainly true.
For those who travel: We ask for God's protection and traveling mercies upon those who travel this week by plane, car, and train to gather with friends, family, and loved ones. Watch over their
journeys and return them safely home.