Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving, 2006

For the Beauty of the Earth

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.
We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.

For the Diversity of Races and Cultures

O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world.
Enrich our lives by ever‑widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

From The Book of Common Prayer.
And this, Psalm 104, is altogether appropriate for Thanksgiving Day. You probably never stopped to consider that storks nested in pine trees, that that great Leviathan has been out there in the oceans since Biblical times, and this wonderful line that rings true for those of us in the food business, "wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart."
Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.

He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.

You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees.

The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys.

The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens.
Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening.

How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works-he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.

But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD.
Last night's reading by Charles Laughton was my inspiration for looking up Psalm 104. Like any good actor Laughton elides a few verses, but the result is a version more dramatic in the hearing than it could ever be in silent reading. Taken from the King James version, here is the text he uses.
O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

The waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth. And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

The trees of the LORD are full of sap, where the birds make their nests. As for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! The earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will be glad in the LORD.

No comments: