Thanksgiving at the bandstand

In the fierce winds whipping around Matlock (!) a number of us gathered (huddled) to reflect on what it might mean to live as thankful people.

Steve shared a prayer he’d grown up with at school known as the General Thanksgiving and had us reflect on the mismatch between those rather antiquated words and the values reflected in the world view of our society today. The mix of those ideas is reflected in this format below:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine (your) unworthy servants (are we really that unworthy? Can my self worth cope with such denial? I think I’m pretty sorted really.)
do give thee (you) most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all men. (“People” obviously. I thank you Lord, that I am so PC.)
We bless thee (you) for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life; (although times are a little tough right now….)
but above all for thine (your) inestimable (not able to be estimated) love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. (Well jolly good – absolutely.)
And, we beseech thee,
give us that due sense of all thy mercies, (are we overdoing this a tad?)
that our hearts may be unfeignedly (genuinely) thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives, (won’t the lips do? Please?)
by giving up ourselves to thy service, (Steady now – this is a getting serious.)
and by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our days; (There’s that word righteousness…all a bit morally certain and judgemental for us Post- Moderns)
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit,
be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen. (Amen!)

With these words in hand we dispersed to wander around the park and to let the prayer and responses become our own conversation with God. We were also asked to reflect on 4 questions:

What would it mean to live a life of Eucharist?

To have a heart oriented in gratitude?

What perspective would we need and gain?

How different would our responses be at home, at work, at school?

Back in the bandstand, we turned to prayer, using some of the written suggestions from last week’s SOULSPACE, where people were asked to say what they would like the world to be detoxed from in the coming year. The ones we used this week were: Cruelty to animals; Child abuse; The Kibera slums, Nairobi, Kenya; Unemployment; Churches should support Occupy, both in London and worldwide; Discrimination against people because of race, religion or belief.  (We will use the others in subsequent bandstand gatherings). These and shared prayer needs then informed us as we built individual prayer cairns in the park (which we’ve left for the week). Harry had written a final prayer for us all at the end of that time then.

Our prayers

Prayer cairn in Hall Leys Park

Finally we shared  the eucharist, speaking the following words to each person in turn:

Receive this bread; feed on it with thanks; it is the gift of God to sustain and nurture; it is Jesus incarnated and given for us. Give thanks.

Drink this wine with thanks; it is the gift of God to bring us joy; it was a hard won battle; it is Jesus poured out for our redemption. Give thanks.

So, we head into the week with the challenge and inspiration of being thankful people… good stuff!