A Prayer of Giving Thanks

by Mark Sandlin

Good and gracious God,

There is a tension that comes
with giving thanks.

Even as we recognize
and are grateful for
the blessings in our lives,
we are confronted with
enjoying our abundance
as we recognize the reality
that there are those
who have far too little.

Even as we celebrate a holiday
with roots which reach back
to the beginnings of our nation,
we are confronted with
the reality of
the genocide and slavery
upon which it was found.

We do not forget these things.
We do not celebrate them.
We do not give thanks for them.

In this our tale of Thanksgiving,
they are the terrible storyline
which we must not forget.

Our pride,
our arrogance
and our pursuit of possessions
have constantly stood
alongside of our blessings
as a reminder.

They remind us why we give thanks.

They remind us that life
is sacred and fragile
and that we
are its biggest threats.
They remind us that we do not want
to be those people again,
people who lord over others
and are self-adsorbed and self-important.

They remind us to appreciate
what we do have.

So, we give thanks.

We give thanks for this moment.
We give thanks for the things
that are right about the world
right now,
in this moment.
We give thanks for family and friends.
We give thanks for love and laughter.
We give thanks for grace and good company.

We give thanks for the tension
we find in a day like today
because it provides us the insight
and the motivation
to create better tomorrows.
Not just for ourselves,
not just for our families,
not just for our friends
but for the world.

So, today and everyday,
we give thanks
and we work to create a world
that gives more reasons
for which to be thankful.

Amen.

On Veterans’ Day: What does it mean to honor our vets?

The platitudes and patriotism are easy. Honoring veterans with brass bands, politicians, and lots of flags takes little time, money, or energy. What’s hard is taking care of vets who are suffering the long-term effects of their service on battlefields. The physical wounds are one thing; the psychic and spiritual wounds quite another. On this Veterans’ Day, I’ve collected a few stories about veterans struggling to put their lives together after serving their country.

From David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service, a story of one vet’s struggle with PTSD. 

Here’s a link to an earlier story on PTSD and meditation.

Recent veterans (those who have served since 2001) continue to face double-digit unemployment. The rate hasn’t changed in the last year. One important reason: the fact that the number of those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is now around 1 million, and the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 13.2%

18 veterans die each day from suicide (Harpers Index, Feb, 2012)

About 1 million vets are on SNAP (food stamps). House Republicans honor vets by proposing to cut benefits for 170,000 of them.

I’ve previously blogged about homelessness and veterans here and here.

Mark Sandlin expresses my feelings:

If we want to truly thank our veterans, we need to give them justice when they return home, we need to remember the real cost of war and we need to grieve with their families.

In my mind, today should be more of a day of mourning than a day of celebration. I’m not advocating to turn it in to another Memorial Day as much as to be more aware of its realities. We need it to be a real reminder of the real costs of war. We must not forget. We must not forget the lives lost. We must not forget the limbs lost. We must not forget the mental stability lost. We must not forget the veterans on the streets and those who pull up chairs to empty plates. War is hell – and frequently the other side of war is a living hell.

We must not forget.

A prayer for veterans and those who serve in military service:

Merciful and Almighty God, whose Son came among us and laid down his life for us, showing us the fullness of your love for all people: we remember with prayerful and thankful hearts before you this day the veterans and active military of this country, who have given of themselves in love for the sake of peace. We pray for the living, the departed, for those still serving, and their families – with gratitude and for healing. We pray, Lord, that you would make us grateful for the peace they sought by making each of us more peaceful. So Lord, as you taught us, we pray for our enemies: that all people would come to know the unending love and joy of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (via Jonathan Melton)