In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is a holiday with special religious significance. Originally it was celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans to give thanks to God after the harvest of 1621. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November should be a national day of thanksgiving. This short rite of table blessing comes from the Book of Blessings and as such is official liturgical prayer, though it may be led by lay people. It is a wonderful way to begin a family’s thanksgiving meal with a special “grace.”
All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
All reply: Now and forever.
One of those present reads the following Scripture text from I Cor 1:3-9
Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
A priest or deacons says the following prayer of blessing (“grace”) with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined and does not make the sign of the cross.
God most provident, we join all creation in raising to you a hymn of thanksgiving through Jesus Christ your son.
For generation upon generation peoples of this land have sung of your bounty; we too offer you praise for the rich harvest we have received at your hands.
Bless us and this food which we share with grateful hearts.
Continue to make our land fruitful and let our love for you be seen in our pursuit of peace and justice and in our generous response to those in need.
Praise and glory to you, Lord God, now and for ever. Amen.
This Thanksgiving prayer, table blessing and grace before the meal comes from the Book of Blessings, chapter 58. For a general intro to the Book of Blessings, click here.
For more on Thanksgiving, read Dr. Italy’s article on Thanksgiving and the Eucharist.