As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in this year of 2003, we have many things to remember and everything for which to be grateful.
I. LET US TURN TO THE NORTH – We greet you, Spirit of the North. Teach us to plant our feet securely on the earth and to see things as they really are. We stand in awe of the majestic mountains of rock and rivers of glacial ice in Canada and Alaska because they speak of your wondrous power. We thank you for the lakes, rivers, vacation homes, summer and winter activities that refresh our bodies and spirits in the lands surrounding Lake Michigan.
Teach us, Spirit of the North, in the solitude of winter, to wait in darkness with the sleeping earth, believing that we, like the earth, already hold within ourselves the seeds of new life.
II. LET US TURN TO THE EAST – We greet you, Spirit of the East. Awaken in us with each day, new hopes, new dreams of colors, loves and joys never before imagined. Bless with honesty, fairness, and justice the political leaders of our land as they lead us through these difficult and uncertain times. In a special way, grace them and this assembly with tolerance, civility, and the spirit of healing. We pray too, for all religious and political leaders, especially in the troubled lands of the Middle East, that the one God called Adonai, Allah, and Abba, may bless all with the spirit of cooperation and the fullness of peace. May they find common ground in their search for justice and prosperity.
We remember those who serve in the military of all countries. May peace soon bring them home.
In the midst of our many problems and concerns here and abroad, we thank you for the joy, ever so fleeting, that came from the anticipation and hope of a Sox-Cubs World Series.
Inspire us, Spirit of the East, that we might reach out to you boldly to grasp the miracles that are given birth with each new dawn.
III. LET US TURN NOW TO THE SOUTH – We greet you, Spirit of the South. Teach us to hold sacred the memory of the spring rains that we might have the strength to withstand the heat of the day, and not become parched and narrow in our love. Move us to respond generously and compassionately to the survivors of natural disasters. We thank you for the joy of life our southern neighbors share with us. May your Spirit of joy be rekindled in the hearts of our neighbors. Open our hearts and our resources to the hungry, homeless and hurting of our world especially in Africa, where the specter of AIDS threatens us all.
Lead us, Spirit of the South, to accept fatigue with resignation, knowing that life is not to be rushed, that there is no flower of the field that grows from seed to blossom in a single day.
IV. LET US TURN TO THE WEST – We greet you, Spirit of the West. You cool our hot and tired bodies; refresh and bring laughter to our hearts. It is you who usher in the setting sun. We pray for our Asian brothers and sisters, for wisdom for their leaders, respect for human rights, especially in Pakistan and India, and peace between South and North Korea. Strengthen all who are rebuilding their communities in California ravaged by fire.
It is by your power, Spirit of the West, that the sun hangs suspended for endless moments before you catch it with your breath and carry it off into the night.
V. LET US LOOK TO THE EARTH ON WHICH WE STAND – We give you thanks, O God, for the gift of our world. Protect the natural resources, give growth to the crops and the animals and grant us the courage and vision to be stewards of the gifts you give each of us for the good of all. We are grateful for the sacrifices and generosity of past and present members and of all who have gone before us here in the Community of Congregations.
Be with us, Spirit of the Earth, in our quest for health and long life for our planet.
VI. LET US LOOK TO THE HEAVENS ABOVE US – Gracious God, we give you thanks for all your gifts, but especially for calling us at this time, in this place, to be the people who can work towards a new world order. We pray for your gifts of courage, wisdom and faithfulness to your call.
Teach us to walk softly on your lands, to use with care your gifts of nature, to love with tenderness all our brothers and sisters who have been born of your goodness. We pray especially for a commitment to and respect for human life in all forms and shapes, your most precious gift.
Rid our society of violence, random killings, prejudice, terrorism and abuse of every kind. Heal the broken relationships that stifle your love. May we then live with respect, decency and honor towards each and every person in the whole human family.
And when the day comes when you call us back to yourself, help us to return to you as a friend, to find ourselves embraced, encircled, enfolded in your arms.
And may you, God of all peoples, be gracious to us during this time of Thanksgiving.
Go in peace and Happy Thanksgiving.