November 22, 2018
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's School of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thanksgiving Day in the United States
Lectionary: 943-947

Sirach 50:22-24
Psalms 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11
1 Corintians 1:3-9
Luke 17:11-19

Praying Ordinary Time

For those outside of the U.S.
celebrating the Memorial of St. Cecilia

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Thanksgiving Day Prayers

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is the day of the year when so many of us in the US, wake up thinking of turkey, parades with floats, football, and reading the ads for Black Friday.  But, of course, it is the day for giving thanks – for reflecting upon our lives and all our blessings.  The day when we are filled with gratitude and open our hearts.  Our readings today also speak of thanks and giving praise in gratitude although sometimes we forget all that we have to be thankful for and to count our numerous blessings.

Our first reading and responsorial psalm reflect on giving praise and point to the splendor of your glorious majesty and . . .  your wondrous works.  When we stop and truly look around us, it is easy to see these wonders – the sunrises and sunsets, the bright autumn trees in the northern hemisphere, mountains and the oceans.  Sadly, we all too often just take it all for granted.  We complain about the leaves to rake and pile up – no time to delight in their brilliant colors; the sun is an annoying glare as we head east to work in the morning – our rush negates the beauty that was welcoming us to the new day; the physical terrain another annoyance to be dealt with as we go about our goals and duties.  And when children see the first snow and stand in awe of the uniqueness of each snowflake, we are moaning the clean-up, the scraping, the crazy traffic (‘cuz no one remembers how to drive in the snow since a few months have passed).  When did we stop remembering these wonders and become so jaded? So lacking of gratitude and thankfulness? 

There’s a variety of stories about the first Thanksgiving – perhaps not really the joyous welcoming of everyone even those not like us and the sharing of our bounty.  But regardless of what really happened then, our tradition is that this day is a day to pause, to take that moment and truly appreciate all around us – to sing praises even for the challenges of life.  Sometimes, I can just talk myself into a real pity party – the litany of all the ills of the world, the disappointments in my life, the things not going well.  As I’ve heard said so many times, it is easy to sing praise and be grateful when you’re getting everything you want.  I have to remind myself that this IS life – the beautiful parts and the warts – it all comes together. 

The readings from the Old Testament full of praises today were certainly not written because everything was always perfect.  Quite the opposite, the struggles were at times insurmountable.  Yet  . . . they remembered, David sang in his psalms:

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

My challenge for today and every day, is to be grateful regardless, to not be like the nine cured lepers who just walked away.  But rather, like the one who returned glorifying God in a loud voice. I must remember that gratitude is not about get everything you want, rather about everything you do have – every blessing, every challenge, every struggle – learning to embrace every one of them in this journey and make every one part of the steps in the right direction, moving closer to the true ultimate prize.

I would be remiss without offering a song to reflect upon as well.  One that I need to hear every day and remember that sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose some  . .  yet my hope is You alone. 
Mercy Me: Even If    

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