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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

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As you celebrate this Thanksgiving Day, may you take a moment to enjoy this song of thanks by our friends and fellow singers at our partner church, Christian Assembly, Eagle Rock, California, and may you be inspired by the prayer, “The Canticle of the Creatures,” by St. Francis of Assisi.

May the words of the Apostle Paul encourage you to remember each day to “Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:16, NLT)

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

We praise you, Lord, with all your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom you give us light.
He is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
and bears a likeness of you, Most High one.

We praise you, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

We praise you, Lord, for Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise you, Lord, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

We praise you, Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.

We praise you, Lord, for Sister Earth,
who sustains us
with her fruits, colored flowers, and herbs.

We praise you, Lord, for those who pardon,
who, for your love, bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

We praise you, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those she finds doing your will.
for the second death shall do them no harm.

We praise and bless you, Lord, and give you thanks,
and serve you in all humility.

— St. Francis of Assisi

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My son Chris and his friends recently took me skydiving to celebrate my 70th birthday, and it was one of the thrills of my lifetime.

Psalm 90:10 reminds us that “Seventy years are given to us! Some may even reach eighty. But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we are gone.” (NLT)

Having reached that 70th “milestone,” I am grateful and humbled for each additional day that God grants me, and I am careful to not take life for granted.

So as we begin 2014, I give God thanks and praise for the past seven decades and look forward to new avenues of service into which God might be leading me.

I thank God for:

• Rescuing me at age 17 from juvenile delinquency and violence, and opening my heart to respond to his grace, love, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

• Calling me into ministry, and surrounding me with the men and women who mentored and supported me through seminary and my early years as a young pastor in Jamaica.

• Watching over me during setbacks and failures in careers and marriages, never forsaking me during my prodigal wanderings in my early thirties.

• Welcoming me back to him and his fold in 1977 when I recommitted my life to serving Christ during an Easter service at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. O, the joy and peace that a prodigal son or daughter finds upon returning home to a welcoming heavenly father!

• Healing the wounds within our family, and restoring my relationships with ex-wives and adult children. I thank God for blessing me with four grandchildren and with over 26 years of marriage to my present wife, Diana.

• Providing a loving church family at Bel Air Presbyterian Church for the past 37 years, filled with genuine friends with whom I have the opportunity to worship and serve locally, nationally, and worldwide. I am especially thankful for the Chancel Choir with whom I have been serving from that first week in 1977 until now.

• Keeping me connected to a few old friends from my seminary days, who continue to serve as pastors in various parts of the world—Raymond Chin, Winston Lawson, and Wesley Shand—despite the distances that separate us. And for Buck Rea with whom I have been having breakfast every Friday morning for over 23 years as we prayerfully support each other in our careers, marriages, and ministries.

And as we enter 2014, I am thankful for new avenues of service that God has opened for me:

• In January, Bel Air Pres is sponsoring me in a two-year program to be trained as a spiritual director with Christian Formation & Direction Ministries to “help lead others into a renewed love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through spiritual formation and the art of spiritual direction.”

• In July, I join a team from Bel Air Pres as we travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help the Congolese church in their effort to bring about reconciliation between former enemies during the recent decade of civil war and tribal genocide.

• On my way home from the Congo, I will travel to Pithapuran, in the Andhra Pradesh district of India, to speak at a conference of pastors, preach in several churches, and learn about the plight of abandoned children in the region.

Of course, all of this—and future opportunities to serve God in his Kingdom work—is dependent on his will (James 4:13-16) and the remaining time that he grants me with health and life.

And should he bless me with long life—as he continues to do with Diana’s aunt Dot who celebrated her 100th birthday last July—perhaps I will celebrate that milestone with yet another skydive!

Happy new year to all my readers, and may the Lord bless you and your families as you continue to worship and serve him throughout his Kingdom this year.

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View the video of the skydive

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As we prepare for our Thanksgiving meals, here are some prayers for giving thanks to our good and faithful God, compiled by my friends Rev. Care Crawford and Laura De Assis, both of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, California.

O God, when we have food,
help us to remember the hungry;

When we have work,
help us to remember the jobless;

When we have a home,
help us to remember those
who have no home at all;

When we are without pain,
help us to remember those who suffer;
and remembering,
help us to destroy our complacency.

Bestir our compassion,
and give us concern enough to help,
by word and deed, those who cry out
for what we take for granted.
Amen.
-Adapted, Samuel F. Pugh

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“Father, we thank Thee for this food,
for health and strength and all things good.
May others all these blessings share,
and hearts be grateful everywhere.”
-Traditional American Blessing (circa 1800s)

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“For peaceful homes, and healthful days,
for all the blessings Earth displays,
we owe Thee thankfulness and praise,
Giver of all!”
-Christopher Wadsworth (19th century)

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“Be present at our table, Lord;
be here, and everywhere adored;
thy mercies bless and grant that we
may feast in fellowship with Thee.
Amen.”
-Anonymous

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“Thank you for the world so sweet,
thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
thank you God for everything.”
-Child’s Blessing

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“O Lord, we thank Thee for this food,
for every blessing, every good.
For earthly sustenance and love
bestowed on us from heaven above.
Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy children bless and grant that we
may feast in paradise with Thee.”
-Garrison Keilor

++

“Lord Jesus, be our guest;
our morning joy, our evening rest.
And with our daily bread and part,
bring peace and joy to every heart.
Amen.”
-Traditional American Grace

++

“Bless this food we are about to receive.
Give bread to those who hunger,
and hunger for justice to us who have bread.
Amen.”
-Traditional American Grace

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As we prepare for our Thanksgiving meals, here are some prayers for giving thanks to our good and faithful God, compiled by my friend Laura De Assis, director of caring ministries at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, California.


“Father, we thank Thee for this food,
For health and strength and all things good.
May others all these blessings share,
And hearts be grateful everywhere.”
-Traditional American Blessing (circa 1800s)

++

“For peaceful homes, and healthful days,
For all the blessings Earth displays,
We owe Thee thankfulness and praise,
Giver of all!”
-Christopher Wadsworth (19th century)

++

“Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here, and everywhere adored;
Thy mercies bless and grant that we
May feast in fellowship with Thee.
Amen.”
-Anonymous

++

“Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.”
-Child’s Blessing

++

“O Lord, we thank Thee for this food,
For every blessing, every good.
For earthly sustenance and love
Bestowed on us from heaven above.
Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy children bless and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.”
-Garrison Keilor

++

“Lord Jesus, be our guest;
Our morning joy, our evening rest.
And with our daily bread and part,
Bring peace and joy to every heart.
Amen.”
-Traditional American Grace

++

“Bless this food we are about to receive.
Give bread to those who hunger,
And hunger for justice to us who have bread.
Amen.”
­-Traditional American Grace

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