Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving for Stewardship Season

May the God of generosity be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, open your hearts to the One who has blessed you beyond imagination.
We open our very being to the God who always surprises us with blessings.
Children on the abundant God, join your voices in glad songs of praise.
Hearts and voices resound with the glory of God.

When you could have been stingy
in those first days, Imaginative God,
your poured all that was in your heart
into the silence and emptiness of chaos.
Rivers rushed to the seas,
mountains streatched toward the skies,
animals danced in clovered fields,
life sprang forth in every corner of the universe.
You crafted all this goodness and beauty
for your children created in your image
that they might enjoy your gifts forever.
But the empty promises of temptation
sounded better than the choruses of the birds,
the glitter of sin and death blinded us
to the abiding wonder of your gracious heart.
Prophets came to remind us
that you are indeed a God of blessing,
that you opened yourself to us in love,
hoping that we would come home.
But when we continued to waste
our inheritance in the far country of despair,
you sent Jesus to come to us,
bearing the ring of redemption
to slip onto our fingers,
the robe of forgiveness
to wrap around our broken lives.

So, with those who have received
your blessings in every age and place,
with those who seek to be stewards here and now,
we join our voices in praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of extravagant love.
All creation is filled to overflowing with your gifts.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes bearing your blessings to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are generous to a fault, Gracious God,
with your greatest gift being Jesus Christ our Lord.
When you could have selfishly kept him by your side,
you sent him into our midst, so we might know
that your love has no limits.
When you could have hardened your heart towards us,
you let yours be broken by the sacrifice
of your only Child upon the Cross.
When you could have demanded
that we give back everything we had received from you,
you sent your most precious self,
that we might be reconciled to you once and for all.

As we remember the Gift we will celebrate once again,
as we celebrate the wonder of redemption which is ours,
we would cling to that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, the blessing which destroyed sin;
Christ arose, the gift which conquered death;
Christ will come again, the treasure of your kingdom held in his arms to give to us.

We never have to wonder
about your love for us, Beneficent God,
for your Spirit is that gift that is poured out
upon the Bread and the Cup
every time we gather at your Table.
We taste the goodness and the life
in the Bread which is broken for us,
that we might offer all that we have
to mend the shattered lives of those around us.
We drink from the Cup of compassion,
and as it flows through the very depths of our souls,
we dare not withhold tight to our gifts,
but as your good and faithful stewards,
offer them back to you so that
  the hungry might be filled,
  the homeless might find shelter,
  the captive would be set free,
  the sick might be made well,
and all creation rejoice in your blessings.

And when all our days of life have come to an end,
when we are gathered with your people in your heart,
we will join our voices in singing our thanksgiving to you,
for all your good gifts, and for your inviting us
to be good stewards with you in the work of the kingdom,
our hands, our hearts, our lives, our gifts offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman