Thanksgiving Blessing

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministry

For some of us the holiday season begins with Halloween, but for ALL of us Thanksgiving is definitely when the holidays are underway. During this time we gather with family and friends, share a delicious meal and give thanks. Giving thanks is part of maintaining our spiritual health and fitness. A thankful heart keeps our souls open and flexible. A thankful heart keeps us from believing that we are the center of our lives and all we have created. A thankful heart reminds us that life is a gift.

In our gatherings during the holidays we practice an important key to nurturing our faith, family rituals and traditions. In my home we always have my great grandmother's sweet potatoes cooked with bourbon and topped with marshmallows. Sophie's favorite is the stuffing that is made with more butter than should possibly be consumed in one day. Eli and David insist that I serve cranberry sauce out of the can, served in the shape of the can, even if I already have a homemade cranberry recipe ready. Traditions matter!
Spiritual rituals and traditions are as easily passed down as a recipe. When we practice our faith in our home it expands and enriches our families' spiritual health and fitness deeply. With this in mind, I offer you a ritual to use at home this Thanksgiving. May it become as much a part of your Thanksgiving celebration as your turkey!

Blessings, Pastor Heath

A Family Blessing for Thanksgiving Day

(The following family ritual is adapted from For Everything A Season 75 Blessings for Daily Life)

Preparation:  Harvest celebrations are found in many cultures and in the United States dates back to the colonial period.  In 1863 Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of Thanksgiving.  Use the following blessing before or after your thanksgiving meal or at another time during the day or weekend.

Welcome (Choose one member of the family to lead the welcome):  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.  Welcome to this time of hope-filled gratitude and honoring the earth.

Prayer (Have another member lead the prayer):  God our creator, we thank you for the earth and the sky, for the millions of creatures and living things you have made, and for the air, fire, and water that give us life.  Open our hearts that we might be grateful for all the gifts including the earth you have placed in our care.  Amen.

Bible Reading (Have another family member or two read the following): You have given us dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under our feet.  Psalm 8:6

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify God with thanksgiving! Psalm 69:30

Activity One (Designed for families of older children):

Reflection: Share or write in a journal about the things you are thankful for in your life.  The following sentence starters may be helpful:

When I think about this country,
     I am most thankful for...

When I think about my family,
     I am most thankful for...

When I think about my life,
     I am most thankful for...

When I think about Mother Earth,
     I am most thankful for...

When I think about God, angels, and the Heavenly Host,
     I am most thankful for...

God has created us to be in relationship with Earth and the rest of creation. With this relationship comes the need to respect creation and  to realize we and all of creation are made in God's image. Share or write in a journal ways you can develop a relationship and kinship with creation. As a family, choose one concrete action you will implement this year.

Activity Two (Designed for families with young children):

A Grateful Turkey: Using construction paper and the on the following page top, draw the face and body of a turkey.  With red, orange, yellow, green, dark blue, light blue/pink, purple, and white construction paper cut out a variety of feathers. If you do not have construction paper, you can use white paper and write with crayons or colored pens or markers.   Have each family member choose a feather from each color.  Place the feathers on the turkey and answer the following:

When I think about Mother Earth, I am most grateful for... (place the green feather on the turkey)

When I think about my family, I am most thankful for... (place the red feather on the turkey)

When I think about my country, I am most thankful for... (place the dark blue feather on the turkey)

When I think about my life, I am most thankful for... (place the yellow feather on the turkey)

When I think about the sun, moon, stars, planets, and galaxies; I am most thankful for... (put the orange feather on the turkey)
When I think about teachers and adults who help me, I am most thankful for... (put the purple feather on the turkey.)

When I think about friends, I am most thankful for... (put a light blue or pink feather on the turkey)

When I think about angels, God, and the Heavenly Host; I am most thankful for... (put the white feather on the turkey)

God has created us to be in relationship with Earth and the rest of creation. With this relationship comes the need to respect creation and to realize we and all of creation are made in God's image. Share or write in a journal way you can develop a relationship and kinship with creation. As a family, choose one concrete action you will implement this year.

Ritual Action (Fill a cup with wine or grape juice.  Have each member take a sip and pass the cup to another member saying the following): Thank you, God, for life and for all creation.  Make us trustworthy and respectful in our kinship with all that you have made.  Amen.

Final Blessing (have the youngest or oldest member of the family offer the following blessing to all): May God's love fill our hearts and make us grateful for all we have been given.  Amen.