If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you probably have your menu worked out by now. But how about the blessing? Most of us will pause on Thursday and offer up a few words of thanks before we pick up our forks. May I suggest a purloined prayer as the perfect Thanksgiving blessing?
A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of lunching with Dr. Barry Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate. Tyndale is publishing Chaplain Black’s book The Blessing of Adversity in the spring, and lunch arrived in the midst of our meeting with the marketing team. My colleague Yolanda Sidney asked the chaplain if he would honor us by praying the blessing over our meal, and he graciously agreed.
Now you need to know something about this remarkable man. If he chose to use them, Dr. Black would have more letters after his name than there are in the alphabet. In addition to earning master of arts degrees in divinity, counseling, and management, he also has a doctorate degree in ministry and a doctor of philosophy degree in psychology. In the poverty-stricken neighborhood where Chaplain Black grew up in Baltimore (described in his first book From the Hood to the Hill), a man like this could only be described as one smart dude.
So when we bowed our heads to pray over that Wednesday workday lunch, I was expecting an impressive prayer – something long and eloquent. After all, this is the man whose prayers are recorded in the Congressional Record, right?
And this is the prayer I heard, the one that brought tears to my eyes in its simple, profound brevity:
There are friends who have no food,
and those with food who have no friends.
Today, Father, we are most fortunate to have both food and friends.
For this we most humbly thank you.
In Christ’s name,
Do you have friends with whom to share your Thanksgiving meal? Don’t wait to be asked. Ask around instead and find someone else who might be alone. That’s what we’re doing this year.
Our menu is set – the same stuffed turkey with all the trimmings we enjoy every year – and so is the blessing we will use– this beautiful prayer we are borrowing from Chaplain Black. His words are a reminder of how blessed we are when we have food to eat and friends to eat it with.