Friday, November 22, 2013

A Time to Celebrate

"Celebration" by John August Swanson
Our text for this Sunday--the last Sunday in Pentecost, also known as Christ the King Sunday and, here in America, also the Sunday before Thanksgiving--is Esther 7:1-10 and 9:18-28, which you can read here.

This week, as we finish our three week series on Esther (and our 8 weeks on the little-read books of Nehemiah and Esther--congratulations, you have almost survived, and hopefully you have gleaned something from these stories!), we will be learning about the historical origins of the Jewish festival of Purim--a time for rejoicing and celebration observed every year and first "officially" introduced in the book of Esther.

As we read this story of celebration, and consider the importance of celebration in our own culture and lives, we also move towards a day that has been celebrated in American culture for centuries, if officially only for about 150 years--Thanksgiving. It is a day set aside to intentionally express gratitude, and to rejoice over the bounty of what we have been given, to give thanks for God's provision even through times of difficulty. As we prepare to celebrate next week, I would like to offer for your consideration and meditation a prayer from one of my favorite Christian thinkers, Walter Brueggeman. How might this prayer shape your celebration of Thanksgiving this year?

The witnesses tell of your boundless generosity,
and their telling is compelling to us:
You give your world to call the worlds into being;
You give your sovereign rule to emancipate the slaves and the oppressed;
You give your commanding fidelity to form your own people;
You give your life for the life of the world...
broken bread that feeds,
poured out wine and binds and heals.
You give...we receive...and are thankful.

We begin this day in gratitude,
thanks that is a match for your self-giving,
gratitude in gifts offered,
gratitude in tales told,
gratitude in lives lived.

Gratitude willed, but no so readily lived,
held back by old wounds turned to powerful resentment,
slowed by early fears become vague anxiety,
restrained by self-sufficiency in a can-do arrogance,
blocked by amnesia unable to recall gifts any longer.

Do this yet. Create innocent spaces for us this day
for the gratitude we intend.

In thankfulness,
we will give,
we will tell,
we will live,
your gift through us to gift the world. Amen

--from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (Fortress Press, 2002)

No comments: