Sunday Reflection

Let us pray together.  

I’d like to begin with a prayer of Thanksgiving.  This is an Iroquois prayer to remind us of the first Thanksgiving feast when two very different groups of people, despite, because of, and in the midst of their cultural difference came together to support one another and celebrate with one another the seedtime and the harvest.  They celebrated, after devastating losses, survival through the trials of the cold and the heat, the trials of summer and the winter, the darkness of night and the brightness of day in a sometimes harsh and unrelenting land.  

It was a celebration of survival with the unlikeliest of partners.  A feast to unite and connect instead of judgement and division.  A feast of thanksgiving for neighbors who helped one another…despite differences.  

We return thanks to our mother, the earth,

which sustains us.

We return thanks to the rivers and streams,

which supply us with water.

We return thanks to all herbs,

which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.

We return thanks to the moon and stars,

which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.

We return thanks to the sun,

that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.

Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,

in Whom is embodied all goodness,

and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.

Iroquois Prayer of Thanksgiving

I know that it was the Wampanoag tribe that shared that first feast with the Puritans.  I might have chosen a Wampanoag prayer to celebrate abundance and harvest, but since many Wampanoag choose to celebrate the memory of Thanksgiving differently these days, I chose an Iroquois prayer that would carry the sentiment of gratitude.  

I like to think that despite what decades and centuries have done to history that the first feast was a sharing together with neighbors. Neighbors choosing to connect and protect one another from hostile encroachers, a hostile environment, and choosing to seek similarities versus disconnect.  

A celebration of life, harvest, and friendship.  

This morning, to honor gratitude in different traditions, I have chosen prayers of abundance from different faiths.  I find there is something beautiful in sharing one’s own prayers of devotion and gratitude and there is something lovely in listening to how other honor abundance, gratitude, and Grace.  

We can seek similarities and enjoy these various songs of devotion.  

Let us celebrate abundance for all that we have.  No guilt for 500 shirts in our closets, more books than we could read in a lifetime, and more toys than we can truly appreciate.  A checking in to remember to be grateful for all the things we have (the tangible and the intangible).  To reassess our needs and to not take our blessings for granted.  

I have a handful of prayers for us to explore.  I’ve decided to offer them as they are, without giving their tradition to either distract you with trying to puzzle out where they are from or to allow you to enjoy without applying labels.  

They say that names have power.  How did my naming the prayer as an Iroquois prayer change your relationship to the words?  Did you enjoy it more?  Or less?  Did you judge it more?  Or less?  Did you spend time pondering it, and my choice, or simply…enjoy?

If I told you the next prayer was a Christian prayer would you enjoy it more?  Or less?  Would you judge it more?  Or less?  

Will you ponder these more or less for my not sharing the traditions from which they come?  

Try to simply listen.  Some you’ll like.  Some you might not.  Listen to words of songs and prayers and poems of Thanksgiving.  Allow these words to prepare you for a week of gratitude and love.  Allow these words to remind you of your blessings and abundance (and perhaps where your abundance cup overfloweth).  Allow gratitude to open the coming season of sharing, giving, love, and light.  

ONE:

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.

One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!

Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;

the bounty is its shell,

For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.

Abundance alone brings heedlessness,

thanksgiving gives birth to alertness…

The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,

and you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.

Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,

and you will be freed from hunger and begging.

TWO:

“Almighty Lord, if we offer you a devoted mind and heart, you will offer to us every blessing on earth and in heaven. You give food to the body and peace to the soul. You look upon us with the love of a mother for her children.

“You created this beautiful earth all around us. And in every plant and animal, every tree and bird, your spirit dwells. You have revealed yourself to me, infusing my soul with the knowledge that you are the source of all blessing. And so I sing your praises day and night. I who am feeble, glorify you who is powerful. I who am nothing, devote myself to you who is everything to me.”

THREE:

“We thank You that You are Adonai our God and God of our ancestors throughout all time.  You are the Rock of our lives, the Shield of our salvation in every generation.  We thank you and speak your praises for our lives that are in Your hand, for our souls that are in Your charge, for Your miracles that are with us, and for Your wonders and Your gifts that are with us at all times—evening, morning, and noon.  You are good because your compassion never ceases; You are compassionate because your kindness never ends.  You have always directed our hearts toward You.  For all these blessings we shall ever praise and exult Your Name.  May every living being thank and praise You in Truth, God of our deliverance and help.  Blessed are You Adonai, whose Name is Goodness, to You it is joyful to thank”.  –Jewish Prayer of Thanksgiving

FOUR:

King of all glens and moors, of all clifts and seas. You were God before the beginnings of the Universe. You moved through the heavens before the waters of the seas. You are the alpha and omega, our beginning and end. You created the earth of nothingness, shaped the earth from the breath of your words. You carved the cliffs, and lochs, and valleys. You filled our world with the heathers, and grasses, and sweet smelling flowers. You gave us the trees.

You measured each thing, and declared it all good. You know the height of the tallest mountain, and depth of the deepest sea. You know our exact place in this Universe. Your love surrounds it all.

You created men and women to be the trustees of all your creation. You have asked us to care for it, and love it, just as you love us. Because you are our Creator, you always surround us with our endless love. Help us to be thankful today, and to share the love you give us in your Creation with all we see today. Amen.

FIVE:

With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.

With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.

SIX:

O God, source and giver of all things,

You manifest your infinite majesty, power and goodness

In the earth about us:

We give you honor and glory.

For the sun and the rain,

For the manifold fruits of our fields:

For the increase of our herds and flocks,

We thank you.

For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace,

We are grateful.

Supreme Lord of the harvest,

Graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil,

In union with Jesus, your Son,

As atonement for our sins,

For the growth of your Church,

For peace and love in our homes,

And for salvation for all.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Allow these songs of devotion to enter your heart and feed your sense of gratitude and abundance.  Allow these prayers and this week to open the coming season of sharing, giving, love, and light.  Amen.  

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