Monday, November 23, 2015

Around the Thanksgiving Table

Gratitude is kind of becoming a thing, but just because something’s trendy doesn’t make it a bad idea.  A regular practice of gratitude, as with any regular practice or spiritual discipline, begins to shape our outlook on the world.  As Douglas Wood writes in The Secret of Saying Thanks, a picture book about gratitude:
“The more we say thanks, the more we find to be thankful for.
And the more we find to be thankful for, the happier we become.
We don't give thanks because we're happy. 
We are happy because we give thanks.”

Carolyn Brown, from Worshiping with Children, who I’ve mentioned often as a great resource, suggests that just as we plan for and prepare our meal on Thanksgiving, we should also consider preparing for a time of giving thanks as we gather.  While we are together with our families or friends, we have an opportunity to use a little time before, or along with, or even after our meal, to be intentional in naming our gratitude.  Some of the suggestions below are Carolyn’s and some are mine.  Maybe you can use them or maybe they’ll inspire you to come up with your own thanksgiving tradition.

·         One person says a prayer they have thought about in advance expressing the family’s gratitude in words and ideas that will make sense to and include all the people at the table.
·         Invite the people coming to the meal to prepare a few sentences or short prayer about their gratitude and have a ‘round’ of prayer.  If you hold hands, the pray-er squeezes the hand of the next person when she is done.  Conversations among family members as they prepare these prayers can be more important than the prayers themselves. 
·         If you haven’t had time to prepare, or want to be more spontaneous, ‘popcorn’ a prayer around the table.  Including a corporate call/response after each gratitude like, “For all I’ve said and so much more…” “…We give God thanks,” can invite everyone to participate, even if each person doesn’t have something personal to add.
·         Sing a Thanksgiving song together as your prayer.  If it will be a new song to some at the table, practice it together (maybe at meals?) earlier in the week.  Print a copy of words which children have decorated at each plate.
·         Brainstorm a list of the blessings of those at the table.  Then sing the “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” as your Thanksgiving prayer
·         Use a psalm of praise like Psalm 126 or one of the lectionary’s other suggested texts as your thanksgiving prayer.
·         Decorate paper napkins with drawings of things for which they are thankful.  Or create a place card for each person at the table with a drawing or words of thanks on it.
·         If you are well known to each other around the table, offer thanks to others at the table, or to God for the people around you, being specific about what things you are grateful for. 

No comments: