043: Thanksgiving on a Song and a Prayer

     Our regular readers know that, here at ReadTheSpirit, we are a new kind of “community bookstore” in which our readers share in our recommendations of great spiritual media. SO, as Thanksgiving approaches, we want to thank our readers by giving you some gifts: A Song & A Prayer for the holiday.
    But, we couldn’t do this on our own. We needed help, which we’ll also explain today.
    And, FIRST, we have:

A Song for Thanksgiving

    The Thanksgiving Song comes from the innovative  Web site of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, based in Wisconsin.
    A week ago, Sister Julie Ann Sheahan, OSF, sent out a nationwide press release announcing the sisters’ agreement with singer-songwriter Harry Manx (shown at left) to provide free “MP3” copies of Manx’s song, “Only Then Will Your House Be Blessed” — a perfect song for the holiday.

    As editor of ReadTheSpirit, I was impressed that these Catholic sisters had organized such an inspiring — and downright “cool” — media campaign on behalf of themes that are close to the heart of the Franciscan movement. So, I telephoned Sister Julie Ann to talk with her in person.
    She told me, “If people keep checking our Web site, they’ll find that every month we pick a different theme that fits into our idea of a ‘Franciscanized World.'”
    I wondered: What’s a “Fanciscanized World”? Well, click on the link (below) to their Web site and you’ll find the answer. They explain it this way: “It’s seeing the world as Saint Francis and Saint Clare did — realistically, compassionately, finding good and holy possibility in the substance of everyday life.”

 Our telephone conversation about Web sites led Sister Julie Ann to take a close look at ReadTheSpirit — and it led me to take a close look at her group’s site. We soon discovered that we’re mutually exploring very similar spiritual themes. One of our core principles at ReadTheSpirit emphasizes “cooperation” in promoting great spiritual media — and Sister Julie Ann noticed  other principles we share, as well.
    She wound up telling me: “David, I had a chance to read your principles for religious publishing. I believe they are very much in touch with what our ‘Franciscanized World’ page is all about.”
    Here at ReadTheSpirit, we entirely agree — and we welcome you to visit the sisters’ site and enjoy this free song for Thanksgiving.

CLICK HERE to jump to their site — where you’ll find a link to “download” the Manx song. On some computer systems, clicking on the link will start the song playing on your computer. On other systems, you’ll need to actually save the song and replay it.
    But, please do! You’ll enjoy it!
    “The song reminds us that we should be sharing hospitality with everyone who comes into our lives,” Sister Julie Ann said. Plus, she told me: “The song is very lively and you could easily dance to it!”
    Now, how often are you going to find Catholic sisters handing out free music with a great dance beat?

    (PLUS — If you’re intrigued by St. Francis and want to learn more about his life — click on either one of the photos here from the Robert Kennedy Jr. storybook about St. Francis, and you’ll jump to our review of that wonderful book — and you can buy a copy of that, if you wish. Sorry, the St. Francis book is not free — but it would make a terrific Christmas present for someone you love.)

 But the following prayer is a free gift to all of us — perfect to print out and share with friends and family on the holiday weekend later this week.

    THE AUTHOR of this prayer is the Rev. Marsha Woolley, pastor of Newburg United Methodist Church in Livonia, Michigan, a community not far from our ReadTheSpirit National Home Office here in Michigan.
    The Rev. Woolley already is known in the Midwest for her expertise in liturgical arts and her talent as a writer, especially of prayers. She’s one of the many friends of our Web site and has agreed to contribute occasional pieces to ReadTheSpirit.
    Today is her debut on the site — but you’ll hear more from her in January.
    In preparing the text of her prayer for publication today on the Web site — I carefully read this prayer over and over again. And, in the process, I suspect that the Rev. Woolley may be part of the rich Franciscan tradition herself.

    But, PLEASE, pray along with us today — and tell us what you think.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

is necessary, O Gift-giving God
, for us to have a fulfilling
Thanksgiving? Our heads are already busy making plans for this
festive day. Many have been to the store, groceries are bought,
recipes are laid out, and soon the turkey will thaw.

 What are the necessary ingredients for this day, O God?

FOR SOME it will be Thanksgiving when all the traditional foods are laid out before them on the table, and someone calls, “Come and get it!”

FOR SOME it will be when all the family arrives home again, and all are gathered together.

FOR SOME it will be when they finally leave the hustle and bustle of the airport’s busiest travel day.

FOR SOME it will be when that phone call comes from the loved one who is not present, who cannot make it across state, or across country, or across the walls that alienate or define a broken relationship.

FOR SOME it will come when the dinner is over, the dishes are done and the mess is over for another year.

What will make it Thanksgiving for each of us this year, O God?

REMIND US again that it isn’t about food, but about remembering and giving thanks.

REMIND US that it isn’t about stressing out, but about experiencing family and relationships.

REMIND US that it doesn’t matter what we eat, but that any and all across this world have something to eat.

REMIND US that it isn’t about everyone being together, as much as it is about everyone being with someone, about no one being alone.

REMIND US that it isn’t as much about giving thanks with our lips as it is about living thankfully with our lives.

REMIND US again, O God, that it is not about what we have been able to acquire materially, but about what we are aware of spiritually — that it is never about what we have gotten ourselves, but about what we have given to others.

So may each one who gathers around a table filled with food remember one who is hungry.

surrounded by family, remember one who is lonely or alienated.

MAY EACH ONE who has so very much, be motivated to give to one who has little.

MAY EACH ONE who is warm and comfortable in their home remember one who is without a home, or necessary heat, or a place to lay their head.

MAY EACH ONE who laughs with joy remember one whose life right now is without joy.

MAY EACH ONE whose heart overflows with love for another remember one whose heart is broken over a loved one gone.

MAY EACH ONE who knows family harmony and peace be reminded of one whose family relationships are complex and mired with too much history and too little reconciliation.

    O God, are not these the necessary ingredients for each of us who gather to give thanks this week?  Do you not call us to always treasure the blessings and do you not beckon us to always share of what we have?  Do you not call us to the table, with one hand reaching forth in humble thanks for all we receive, and the other hand reaching out with all we have to give?

    “Come ye thankful, people come” we sing.
    And, we are here.

    “Now thank we all, our God”
    And, we do.

    “What gift can we bring?”
    We bring ourselves, in grateful response to all the gifts you offer to us.

    We gather around your table, O God, where all are invited, where each is fed, and where none, by your grace, is ever alone. Continue to feed us, O God, in your living and loving ways. 


for “The Power of Forgiveness” and, on Thanksgiving morning, print out our fun holiday quiz to share with friends! (And don’t miss Friday’s “Holiday Books”!)

PLEASE, Tell us what you think! Post a Comment on our site. If
you’re reading this via Email, click on the headline above this article, jump to our site
and you’ll find a Comment link at the end of this article. Or, you can Click Here to email me, David Crumm.


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