Blessings

by Pastor Heath Howe

The month of November for many of us is centered on the celebration of Thanksgiving Day. As you begin to make plans with family and friends, prepare menus, and consider centerpieces, find time to pause and simply give thanks.

Give thanks to God for all we have been given, and then ask how to give back. Giving thanks to God is such an important tool for our spiritual health and fitness. It opens our eyes. It makes us porous and flexible. It expands our heart. From such a place we are better able to relate to one another and all of creation.

The following is a tool designed for you to use on Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends as a way of pausing to name all you are thankful for in your life. As always please feel free to adapt this tool as needed.

In my list of thanksgivings this year is certainly all of you, my Holy Comforter family. I am grateful for and to you all, for it is in knowing you that I see the face of God, the heart of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Blessings, Heath

A Family Blessing for Thanksgiving Day

Preparation: Harvest celebrations are found in many cultures and in the United States date 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 a quieter 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 for families with 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 for families with young children:

A Grateful Turkey: Using construction paper and the image below, 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 color with crayons, pens or markers. Have each family member choose a feather from each color. Place each colored feather on the turkey and answer the following:
                                  

When I think about Mother Earth, I am most grateful for...green feather

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

When I think about my country, I am most thankful for...dark blue feather

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

When I think about the sun, moon, stars, planets, and galaxies; I am most thankful for...orange feather

When I think about teachers and adults who help me, I am most thankful for...purple feather

When I think about friends, I am most thankful for... light blue or pink feather

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

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.

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.

Adapted from For Everything a Season: 75 Blessings for Daily Life. For more family activities for children of all ages please visit www.VibrantFaith@Home.org.