Thanksgiving Prayer

Don’t just say it.

Every four years, the Relatives House Shuffle gets more uncomfortable to dance to. Like a drunken madman, our nation spent the last year straining the outer and utter limits of credulity, let alone civility.

It would be too easy to suggest we all just spend a little time today not talking about politics around our Thanksgiving tables. Talk about politics. Or don’t.

I don’t care.

But choose compassion and empathy and patience over rancor and bitterness or smugness.

Let this Thanksgiving be a day that we do more than think or talk about how thankful we are for friends and family and instead make it a day in which we clearly show it.

Are you thankful you at least have your health? What if you lose it? I know some that have done so.

Are you thankful you at least have a roof over your head? What about the over a million of your fellow Americans who slept outside in the cold last night and do not even know today is a Thursday, let alone a “holy day”?

I know a good number by name. Some are no longer with us. Some slept outside again last night. Most at their core are good and kind people, deeply suffering.

Are you grateful your children are safe and sound? Thank God so am I, but so many cannot say the same. The holidays are particularly painful for many, for this reason. Love on those that have lost parents or children. Love on widows and orphans and those in foster care and single moms.

What about our brothers and sisters in prisons? Have you any compassion for them? Do you believe only the guilty dwell there among the over two million Americans?

Are you grateful for your freedoms? There are tens of thousands of soldiers serving overseas to help protect them and you today. They love their country and will continue to give life and limb to keep you safe, no matter who you voted for.

But stop putting it all on the flag and the cross, over human lives. Do you think this is a Christian nation? Then start acting like it. If you really love America and freedom you also will fight at every chance to unite her by protecting the most vulnerable, not those that are already strong. Fight here at home for the freedoms of your fellow Americans that do not share your faith in god or have your same skin color or love for a man or a woman.

If we think hurting and ignoring others makes God happy, I promise you that we will reap the whirlwind. Let us love and respect people before we dare preach to them.

Are you thankful for America? Then start looking for ways to heal her and not ways to rip her further apart.

You can fight for common ground and kindness at the same time you fight for what you believe in. It’s not magic. It’s been done before.

Do you think we have no responsibility or culpability in how this all turns out? History and eternity will look back to judge us and our children, just as they do every generation. The truly thankful have an irresistible compulsion to show their empathy, not just talk about it.

How well coordinated and decorated is your holiday table this year?

Great.

Did you thank God today for all the *things* with which he has blessed you?

Okay.

But how full is your heart and extended family?

Let us express less about thankfulness merely with weak words. Take no pleasure in the unhappiness of “them” that sit on the other side of a political aisle and focus more on protecting and building up those on the other side of our church or street or table.

Do it, however unlovable they might be or they think that you might be.

Love anyway.

Don’t you dare merely fold your hands and say Grace.

Visit the sick. Feed, clothe, and comfort the homeless and those in prison. Thank God for our loved ones still with us and for the many years and countless laughs and smiles with those gone before us.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that do weep.

Stop worrying today about matching plates and focus on forever reaching and touching people near and far that need us. Life is painful, but I am thankful we can at least help heal and ease the suffering or sadness of a few others along the way.

What else will we have to our names, in the end?

Keep kicking out the walls of the pretend circle that you call “me and mine”. Tell those in your life that you are thankful for them today and that you love them. But far more importantly and for much more than just this quickly vanishing day, do more than pray it or say it.

Let us show it.

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