Giving thanks for truth

A postcard from the Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King 11/21/21

Grace by Eric Enstrom, depicting travelling salesman Charles Wilden in Bovey. Photograph was published in the United States in 1918.

A colorized version of this photo hung over the breakfast table at my Granddaddy’s house.

As I waited for my Granddaddy to say grace, I would look at the photo and wonder what the story behind it was. I was always struck by the the man’s clapsed hands to say grace for such a simple meal. Later in life I would learn that this was a staged photo, and that Mr. Wilden, who is depicted in the photo, was a salesman down on his luck and was paid $5 to pose for the photo. So he was probably indeed thankful for the chance to earn some money.

My Granddaddy’s go-to prayer was a simple one: “Bless, O Lord, thy gifts to our use and us to thy service; for Christ’s sake. Amen.” No matter how simple or grand the meal, it always began by saying grace. It was an act of thanks, a recognition of God’s sovereignty, and a dedication of ourselves to God’s service. Alot of meaning in a short prayer.

Our Thanksgiving holiday this week prompts us to be more intentional about being thankful. I hope you embrace those prompts, and say—out loud—what you are thankful for. I am especially thankful for all the parishes that welcomed me this past year and allowed me the privilege to preach and celebrate the Eucharist in these unusual times.

Our Book of Common Prayer offers us a wonderful prayer of General Thanksgiving (p. 836) that I encourage you to pray this week:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

A sermon from the Church of the Messiah, Heflin:

Principal text: John 18:33-37

Audio only available here

Coming next

Next Sunday begins the season of Advent. Advent is a season about the coming of Christ in history, mystery, and majesty. It is a season filled with prophets and John the Baptist. It is one of my favorite seasons.

If you are looking for prayers to say around an Advent Wreat at home, here is a short service.

  • Nov. 28 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro – 1st Sunday of Advent
  • Dec. 5 – St. Barnabas, Roanoke – 2nd Sunday of Advent
  • Dec. 12 – Messiah, Heflin – 3rd Sunday of Advent
  • Dec. 19 – Messiah, Heflin – 4th Sunday of Advent

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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