The collect for Thanksgiving Day
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.
-Corrie Ten Boom
Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.
Om Chanting and Meditation
There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.
-Henry David Thoreau
All I have needed, thy hand has provided. Great is they faithfulness, Lord unto me.
Did you catch the recent interview on the talk show “Faith in Focus“? Stephen Colbert spoke of his shift from atheism to Christian faith. It happened when he was in his early 20’s, working in Chicago. On a cold night someone on the street handed him a Bible, one with an index suggesting particular verses for particular situations. Colbert was at the time dealing with anxiety, so he looked up the verse to address that challenge. He was directed to a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. Oddly enough, that passage happens to be the gospel chosen for this coming Thursday, the Feast of Thanksgiving, one of the few secular holidays that has made its way into the church calendar. Here’s the passage:
Jesus says: Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear….Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
For Colbert, reading that passage was transformational. He stood on that cold street corner and read the entire sermon. He said he felt lightened. He said his life has never been the same. He now never goes anywhere without a Bible.
I suspect that scripture can have that effect on us as well, and maybe especially in this week. Scriptures chosen for Thanksgiving Day point to a way to move beyond anxiety and fear. I’m guessing that these readings were selected because the offering of thanksgiving in some way counters this kind of worry.
I don’t know how you cope with worries, fears, anxieties. They often get the best of me in most unproductive ways. I often fret in the middle of the night about stuff that will happen the next day. Sometimes those concerns never materialize. Sometimes they come out entirely differently than my anxious predictions. Sometimes they make me unpleasant towards spouse and other people I care about. Sometimes they displace things I should probably be worrying about.
I’m taken with the thought that thanksgiving counters anxiety. Such grateful intentionality often begins with a look in the spiritual rear view mirror, seeing where blessings have come in the past. A common practice in many faith traditions is to list a few things for which one is grateful on a daily basis. One rabbi I know told her congregation to list 100 on a daily basis. Just naming those 100 things, when I’ve tried to do it, crowds out space for anxious thought. If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot this week. See what emerges for you.
And we don’t need to limit thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November. Our principal act of worship, the eucharist, is really a thanksgiving meal. Eucharist means thanksgiving. Every time we participate, we are focusing our lives by giving thanks.
This attitude of gratitude is not denial. It’s not a refusal to admit good reason for concern. It recognizes that hard things come our way. It doesn’t sugar coat the power of those challenges. But it does offer perspective, as a grateful look in the rear view mirror offers a way to look ahead through a much broader windshield, helping us see more clearly where we are and where we are headed, pointing us in a more loving, liberating, life-giving direction.
Blessings in this week devoted to thanksgiving. One of my 100 thanksgivings this week: the opportunity to connect with you on Monday morning, and any attentiveness you extend to my Monday morning ramblings. Thank you. Thank God.