What follows is a prayer offered at the Interfaith Paths to Peace organized Interfaith Thanksgiving Meal and Prayer Service by Jason Crosby at Temple Shalom on November 23, 2015. Along with this prayer from the Christian tradition, prayers from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and other faith traditions were expressed.
At the onset of this week in which our nation sets aside a day for her people to give thanks, we pause to give our utmost thanksgiving and praise to the One from Whom all blessings flow.
For, as it has been said, life is gift and birth, birth is windfall. You, the Creator of the suns and moons and stars, by Your grace brought us into this world. You, who know us best, continues to love us most and sustain us daily. And You, through Your mysterious ways that defy our understanding, will one day redeem all creation and creatures.
Our blessings come in many shapes and forms such as: supportive parents, loving life-partners, caring friends, infectiously joyous children, meaningful work, illuminating education, nutritious food, clean water, and good health. As we count these blessings this week may we be mindful that all the goodness in life in which we delight begins and ends with You.
Yes, O God, we have much for which to be grateful and You call upon us to be ever mindful of our blessedness, and yet, O God, You yearn for us to be honest and authentic before You. You desire our whole hearts, not just our gratitude, but our woes and laments as well. You rejoice in our gratefulness unto You, and abide and weep with us in our sadness and despair.
O God, even the most faithful, steadfast, and hopeful among us felt twinges of fear in recent days. The reverberations, the deep booms, the sharp cracks of gunfire in Paris and in other parts of the world recently spread fear across this world, our nation, state, and city. From a place of fear many now look with suspicion upon those who may be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or humanists because they are outsiders, only exacerbating our woe and sorrow.
Yet, even in times such as these, we may be people of abundant gratitude unto You. For You not only give us all the good blessings that bring us joy and delight, but You extend unto us a constant hand of help and hope in times of worry and fear. The Apostle Paul wrote the following words to Christians in Philippi not during a season of joy and great blessedness, but while imprisoned. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice...Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Tonight, Your children, who call out to You by different names and through different customs, gather together, not only to give thanks unto You in our own ways for blessings that bring us delight and joy, we also come together to give You gratitude in a time of turmoil and fear because our different faith languages, I believe, all inspire us to cling to the belief that even in the midst of times such as these, You continue to offer us help and hope that a brighter, new day will soon dawn.
Help us to be people who sing your praises whether we find ourselves basking in the sun on the mountaintop, or stumbling through the darkness of the valley below. For constant gratitude breeds compassion and compassion brings forth a more loving, just, and peaceful world.
Help us be a people who remember the words of Dag Hammarskjokd who encouraged us to say “thank You,” always, for what has been and is, and “yes” to what will be.
In the name of the One who guides and leads me to love, to love, above all else, my neighbor as You hath unconditionally loved me, I pray, AMEN.