appy Thanksgiving! As we collectively give thanks to God and our families around the dinner table, let us take a moment to reflect on the many ways in which our lives have been positively impacted by others. Thanksgiving is an expression of our gratitude for the gifts others have given us, gifts that have been freely given based on no merit of our own. In this reflection, we begin to realize the utter dependence we have on others who have done so much for us. Looking around the world in the wake of recent tragedies, we also realize the fragility of life and just how much we so often take it for granted. In our times of thanksgiving, let us never forget those struggling for survival, health, and comfort around our world.
Consider this Thanksgiving prayer by Dr. M. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey:
At Thanksgiving we traditionally gather with loved ones to remember our many blessings from God. But this year our prayers turn also to petition as we again pray for holy intervention for the unrest, anxiety, and violence that plagues our world.
We pray for the victims of terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, and many other places around the world. We pray for those held hostage by fear and uncertainty. We pray for those who inflict pain on others.
As war rages in Syria, we pray for those who flee for safety and those who seek asylum. We pray that wisdom, compassion, and peace will prevail among world leaders. We pray for the day that nation shall not lift up sword against nation.
We pray for justice and righteousness on the streets in our own nation. We pray for the family of Jamar Clark who was shot by a police officer in Minneapolis and the family of Laquan McDonald who was shot by an officer in Chicago. We pray for all of those who have died unjustly.
We pray for the coming of Christ’s kingdom where no one is shot on the streets and where no one lives in terror. We pray for the courage and resolve to advance Christ’s reign among us.
O God, we are thankful that you miss nothing.
You alone know what is in the hearts of those who take a life,
and what is in the hearts of those who grieve so deeply the death of loved ones at their hands.
We are thankful for the fire in our hearts that calls for a transformation of the heart of our society.
And we are thankful for the unknown ways you are strengthening those within the halls of
power and those in the streets who are calling for justice and peace to embrace.
All life is precious. We also remember in prayer all women and girls around the world who have had violence inflicted upon them. We are thankful that God is at work in the world, and we are also thankful that God chooses to use us as forces for change. May we look for ways we can use the gifts we have been given to change the world for the better by taking concrete steps toward ending all violence against women and girls. Thankfulness is empty when it doesn’t bring about action. In other words, our gratitude means little unless we use what we have been given as a tool for good. Let us work together to end the atrocities committed against women and girls.