Normally I write a Parson to Person column to be printed on the last Friday of one month, and the first Friday of the month following. But since the last Friday of November will be on the Thanksgiving weekend (and we won't have a Northliner that Friday), I decided to do the November/December column a little early.
So this Parson to Person is about prayers ("graces") that we can say at holiday meals--whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other meal setting. So, if you are ever called upon to lead grace before a special meal, here are a few you might consider:
For the sun and dawn,
which we did not create
For the moon and evening,
which we did not make
For food we plant
but cannot grow
For friends and loved ones
we have not earned...and cannot buy
For this gathered company,
which welcomes us as we are
from wherever we have come
For all things that come to us--
gifts of life and love and friendship--
we lift up our hearts and give thanks this day.
~adapted from the Rev. Richard Fewkes (UU)
In this food
I see clearly
the presence of the entire universe
supporting my existence.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist)
We give thanks.
We give thanks for being.
We give thanks for being here.
We give thanks for being here together.
~Buckminster Fuller (UU)
Oh, we give thanks...for this precious day,
For all gathered here...and those far away;
For this time we share...with love and care,
Oh, we give thanks...for this precious day.
~ Wendy Luella Perkins
(This prayer can be sung; it's #1010 in our teal hymnal.)
Of the above, the one I most often use is the Buckminster Fuller one ("We give thanks for being...") because it's easier for me to remember, and I can say it line by line and have the people assembled repeat each line after me. Another version of this one (which the children in the church I used to serve would say [and] sign] before they left the service for Sunday School) goes like this:
We are blessed.
We are blessed by being.
We are blessed by being here.
We are blessed by being here, together.
This next section is not about possible graces to say at holiday meals, but a story about a child saying grace. It goes like this:
A 4-year-old boy was asked to give thanks before his family's Thanksgiving dinner. The family all bowed their heads, and the boy began thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, his brother, his sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces. Then he started thanking God for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes--even the Cool Whip! Then he paused, and everyone waited. Finally, he looked up at his mother and said, "If I thank God for the broccoli, won't he know that I'm lying?"
Well, regardless of what your holiday meals contain this year--and regardless of who may share them with you--I wish for you love and friendship, grace and blessing, and--if not broccoli--then at least gratitude for being, being here, and being here together.
Happy holidays-to-come, my friends--with, of course, a little...
peace and unrest,