Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As we gather this day as a community to celebrate together and be thankful, you are invited to consider using all or a portion of these meditations in your prayers as you celebrate with family and friends this week around your Thanksgiving table. The churches of the Beaver Falls United Methodist Charge: Central/Riverview wish you a safe and wonderful holiday and we pray God’s peace and blessings upon you on this special day!
These elements of our table remind us of God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ:
The tables spread with beautiful decoration and linens in preparation for our feast remind us that our God spares nothing in loving and blessing God’s people. We prepare both our hearts and our bodies to receive these gifts of the bounty of His creation and His steadfast love. We acknowledge that we are strengthened and enabled to receive these gifts of God’s kingdom by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit made possible through the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. We pray for those whom we have failed to include around our tables today and for those who have excluded themselves. We pray for God’s mercy and that we might make clear God’s invitation to all to God’s table of abundance.
We are provided bread on our tables, an essential daily sustenance which reminds us that God desires that no one leave this table hungry. We receive this bread that satisfies our hunger and are reminded to be thankful for God’s provision in Christ. As we have been so nourished and strengthened, we ask now for strength to follow the call of Christ to share the love of our Lord and our bread with those who hunger in body and spirit.
We consider the water that has been provided to satisfy our thirst and we remember the call of Christ, first to the woman at the well, and now to us to receive the living water Christ provides that we may never thirst again. We drink in fellowship today, as we pray for those who are alone and without access to even this basic element of life for body and spirit.
We consider the fruit of the vine which we have received. We are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whose body was broken for us upon the Cross in order that we might live forever and blameless before our God. This demonstrates for us that a life of faith requires a changed, broken heart. Both pressure and time are required as the fruit ferments to produce fine wine. And so we pray for strength to persevere in our faith as the oppression of a sinful world and the consequences of our own sinfulness press down and threaten to crush and cause us to turn away. We pray for softened hearts willing to receive Your love and discipline and yield the desired fruit of Your Spirit. Break our hearts of stone!
We observe tables that are filled with a Cornucopia of the harvest –representing the gift and abundance of Your creation and Your gracious provision for Your people. The abundance of our table, like Your love, is pressed down and filled to overflowing. We give you all thanks and glory and honor and praise. We are reminded that You call us to care for all the earth and it’s creatures. We pray for Your mercy for the times when we have misused your creation and ask for wisdom in discerning the most honorable use of these gifts for the well-being of all.
As we partake of the various bounty of the meal, we are thankful for the turkey. It causes us to consider the sacrifice of others-both humans and creatures, for our prosperity and good health. We live in land that we did not labor for, enjoy the bounty of crops and vineyards that we did not plant and occupy houses and towns that were built by others. We pray for those without benefit of food and shelter and petition you for the means and strength to share with others out of the abundance You have provided to us.
At our table are salt and other seasonings. We have stuffing that is savory and sweet pumpkin pie. You, O Lord, have given us a life in You that is filled with variety and creativity. You provide for us more than necessities. We are in awe of this variety. We pray for those times when we have preferred blandness and refused to welcome variety in learning, praising, worshipping and receiving Your people whom you have sent to us. We ask mercy for times when we have grown flavorless and failed to receive joyfully the grace and gifts you have provided.
Even potatoes are symbols of the danger of remaining in darkness and , at the same time, the miracle of faith in You. Without the light of Christ we have no ears to hear or eyes to see the wonders of your mercy and love. Surrounded by the darkness of our ignorance and sin we are like potatoes buried in the dirt. But what a miracle! We will soon begin to prepare our hearts for the Advent season and the celebration of the coming of Your light, Jesus Christ, into the world. We cannot understand how we are able to be transformed by the love of the Incarnate God with Us! Transformed by light and the grace of our Savior, we may choose to have eyes of faith that are focused beyond darkness, beyond what can be seen and place our trust in You. We pray for strength to continue to grow in knowledge, love and service of Christ though surrounded by darkness.
As we serve and are served by one another and as we fellowship together, sharing all that we have, we remember that God condescended to us to be present with us in human form. Christ came as Savior and as servant and slave to all in love. We pray for Your peace as we witness confusion, panic and countless acts of destruction and selfishness in our homes and in our streets. Help us to be agents of peace who are able to point to you as Author of Salvation, in whom all may find comfort and healing. We pray for a spirit of humbleness as we recall, with contrite hearts, all those in our lives, our churches, our neighborhoods and the world whom we have failed and harmed by putting our own selfish needs and desires ahead of others. Embolden our faith that we might conform our hearts to that of a servant performing ever greater acts of peace, love and service to our neighbor, our world and our God.