Millions of us will observe Thanksgiving in some fashion Thursday, whether as an opportunity to be with friends and family, an excuse to enjoy mountains of food, a day to overdose on televised football, or as the kick-off for a season of all-out shopping.
Of course, Thanksgiving began, in both European and Native American traditions, as time to express gratitude for a successful harvest.
All the observances had one thing in common: giving thanks.
We asked Lexington-area faith leaders for the prayers that they will offer up on Thanksgiving Day. Here are some of their responses, which have been edited:
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Rabbi Marc Kline, Temple Adath Israel, Lexington: In a religious world, we teach that God created us all. We teach that we are all created in the image of divinity. We do not always agree with what that image might be, but we look to something beyond ourselves and argue that it is to that higher standard to which we grow and mature.
Tradition (the Talmud) teaches that if God prays, this would be God's prayer, "May it be my will that my mercy may suppress my anger ... so that I may deal with my children in the attribute of mercy."
For Thanksgiving, in the image of God, I pray to emulate God so that we will care for each other compassionately; intentionally acting in love and respect.
Melissa Bane Sevier, pastor, Versailles Presbyterian Church: This week of giving thanks, remind us of the extraordinary gifts of food and shelter, a warm home, a friend. Turn our hearts toward those for whom these gifts are scarce.
Give peace to the grieving, comfort to the sick, renewal to the weary, love to the lonely, and may your people find ways of sharing with those who have little or nothing.
This week, when most of us will have full stomachs, we pray for children who go hungry, for the aged who don't have the energy to prepare a meal, for those who live in places where food is hard to come by.
May our Thanksgiving be infused with your hope for a world where peace is the norm, where everyone is accepted and appreciated, where the powerful attend to the needy, where love guides the actions of all.
Father Dale White, pastor, St. Luke Anglican Church, Lexington: I pray we will love our family and friends, and even our enemies, more than ever. We can be happier and more prosperous in an eternal way, once we learn that Jesus Christ is the source of our peace and prosperity. He provides, he heals and he is the source of all goodness.
Rachel Brooks, pastor, New Hope Church, Lexington: I am thankful for the grace of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life, the life of my family and our faithful church family. God has shown his hand in so many ways; prayers, gloriously answered; loved ones carefully carried into the next life; disasters avoided; and hardships eased. I thank God for always providing shelter and rest, and for blessing us so that we might generously and obediently share with others.
I not only thank God for his continuing presence and providential hand in all of the events unfolding in the world around us, but also for the safe, quiet rest that comes from a normal evening at home with my family.
Father Jim Sichko, pastor, St. Mark Catholic Church, Richmond: Let's make this something more than a holiday, more than an excuse to have a slice of pie and take a long nap in front of the television. Make this very day a kind of prayer. Beginning right now. ...
As Thanksgiving Day unfolds, carry that prayer with you. Live it. Give it. This is, after all, a day for giving — giving thanks. It doesn't have to end when you say grace over the turkey. ... It doesn't have to end tonight — God's gifts certainly won't. Every beat of your heart affirms an unmistakable mystery: God has given you life. Extravagant, wonderful, painful, challenging life.
Let's strive to remind ourselves of God's blessings, wherever we find them, however they come to us. And to give thanks for them, every day, in every moment.