The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 21, 2020

The High Alps (2019)

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 21, 2020

Gratitude Edition

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end.  Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1662


Today, I’m grateful for…

Tuscany Sunset (2019)

The endlessly creative works of our Creator God…

  • for creating the heavens and earth; all that is,
  • for making a good world and filling it with goodness,
  • for skies and seas and land, and the creatures that fill them,
  • for our own part in creation as creatures made in God’s image, blessed and called to be his representatives,
  • that all creation testifies to God’s glory, beauty, creativity, and concern for his creatures,
  • for fresh air and clean water, and the ability of nature to renew itself
  • for fertile soil and the earth’s abundant yield,
  • for creatures that delight us, amaze us, and help us in our human lives,
  • for stars and galaxies, for space that expands our minds and hearts, and lifts our eyes to the heavens,
  • for complex worlds too small to see or comprehend,
  • for mountains that send our spirits soaring, and flatlands that stretch our hopes beyond the horizons,
  • for cycles of seasons that form our expectations and heighten our anticipations,
  • for those who study the natural world and give us some small sense of its wonders and blessings.

Lord, we echo the psalmist: “How manifold your works!” We could never name them all, much less understand and describe them. And yet we thank you for giving us the curiosity and hunger to grasp the magnificence of your creation and how we may live within it more fully.

The Cratchit’s Christmas Dinner. (After a drawing by Edwin Austin Abbey)

For one of God’s best ideas: family…

  • for our family heritage, and those who passed on not only their genes, but also their stories and wisdom to us,
  • for our elders who are still present to provide perspective for our lives,
  • for our parents, out of whose love we gained life,
  • for our brothers and sisters, with whom we learned to live life,
  • for our extended family members, some of whom we know well and others who may still be strangers to us — and yet we bear a common name and heritage,
  • for our children, who bear our image, for whom we dream and long and pray that their lives may be blessed and established in God’s love and truth,
  • for our grandchildren, the gifts of our older years,
  • for adopted children, and the families that have welcomed them,
  • for family members who have had challenging and sometimes sad journeys through life, and the opportunities you have given us to serve them,
  • for family members who have gone before us into God’s presence, who we miss and continually commit to God’s care,
  • for the way God has been our Shepherd and our Refuge in every generation and will remain faithful until we all are gathered home at last.

In the midst of our thanks, Lord, we would remember those for whom the word “family” brings pain. We pray for those who dwell in unhappy homes, whose marriages have broken, who have suffered various forms of abuse, for children who have been neglected and unloved, for couples who long for children to nurture and yet cannot conceive, for those who must deal with physical, psychological, or social brokenness every day, for young people who cannot find their way, for adults tempted to go astray and abandon their family duties, for the widows and orphans, for those whose cupboards are bare and prospects dim, for those who homes know little of love, joy, and peace, but only anger and conflict.

We, who are members of your forever family ask that you would show us how to minister to the hurting in these precious households.

Father, from whom every household in heaven and on earth derives its name, we lift our thanks and prayers to you. Amen.

Village in Lavaux (2019)

For life itself, in all its mysterious wonder…

Here and now, at the closing of the year, amidst the abundance of harvest, Lord, we give you thanks…

  • for all we have experienced,
  • for all we have learned,
  • for all the times we’ve fallen and gotten back up,
  • for seasons of health and vitality, and for your presence with us in our sick beds,
  • for all the people we have met and who have welcomed us into their lives,
  • for all the music that has evoked deep feelings in our hearts,
  • for the moments our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard,
  • for the little epiphanies and surprises that made us smile,
  • for the memories of those who’ve gone before us and laid the foundations for our lives,
  • for seasons when we wept and wondered at God’s absence
  • for creation’s endless capacity for eliciting wonder in our hearts and minds,
  • for those who spoke honestly to us, even when they had to say hard words of warning or rebuke,
  • for each breath, each heartbeat, each step,
  • for strength to serve others and bring some benefit to their lives,
  • for our families and those dearest to us, in whose bonds we find our identity and place in the world
  • for seasons of plenty to make us glad, and seasons of want to make us trust,
  • for the communities and nations of the world in which we live and find order for our lives,
  • for the happy fellowship of friends and times of solitude,
  • for the moments of silence and refreshment — for sabbath.

Above all, we thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that in you we live and move and have our being.

With deepest gratitude, we thank you for the gift of life, the possibilities of new life, and the sure and certain hope of eternal life in Christ.

We thank you for our baptism and for death to the old life and resurrection into newness of life. We thank you for the Church, the family of God, who despite all her schisms, heresies, and failures, will be our family forever.

We thank you for the Word of God through which you speak Christ to us, and the Table at which you feed us with Christ.

We thank you for the gift of your Spirit who empowers us for new obedience. We thank you for calling us to our various vocations through which we may give your love to our neighbors and to the world.

We thank you for our neighbors, and even for our enemies, because they give us opportunity to extend your grace, hospitality, and love, and they often teach us better than our own religious practices.

We thank you for all the resources you have entrusted to our care, and for providing ways of learning and serving that we may discharge our trust.


15 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 21, 2020

  1. I’ve always marveled at this thing called “church community,” where those who are weeping with joy are often praying beside those who are weeping with sorrow.

    I think your piece, Chaplain Mike, gets at that.

    Also, for those here who struggle with “an attitude of gratitude,” I highly recommend Edith Eva Eger’s excellent memoir, “The Choice: Embrace the Possible,” not because it will “cure” you, but so you can see a Holocaust survivor’s struggle with that concept and how she came to grips with it. I’m not normally a memoir reader and I will attest that it is EXTREMELY well-written. The first half — dealing with pre-Holocaust, round-up, and Holocaust camp aspects — is riveting.


  2. I’ve never actually owned the good things, or been able to hold onto them, but I keep trying. This grasping at them ruins my experience of them every time, and poisons them while they visit. As to deserving, I know I’m a sinful SOB, and I don’t deserve the good things, which come from God’s goodness and grace, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking that God owes me the good things; in this, perhaps you and I differ.


  3. “I think it is my underlying belief that I have a right to own the good things in my life, to hold them forever in my possession, that makes gratitude so difficult for me.”

    For me, it’s the exact opposite. Yeah, things are going OK *now*, but the Stick is already swinging downward towards my head – the bad stuff is coming, and I (and everyone else) deserve it. “I have looked upon all the future has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me.”


  4. This is beautiful and deep prayer, CM. It does not forget the pain in the midst of the blessing, nor treat of it briefly only to dismiss it ASAP. Thank you for this.


  5. Gratitude has always been hard for me to express or feel. I’ve been trying to practice it throughout the last several decades of my life, but though I enumerate its occasions and express it in prayer and liturgy, there is always a “but” at the end. My expressions of gratitude are always conditioned by reservations in feeling and thought, and the reservations have more cogency in my spirit and attitude than the gratitude; the reservations, not the gratitude, express the real me, and how I really feel and think. In recent times I have begun to think that my practice of gratitude may have to start and end in this life with just sitting silently before the totality and particularities of my life and experience, and letting them be what they are by letting all feelings and thoughts about them, and all drive to control them, go as best I can, by releasing them. I think it is my underlying belief that I have a right to own the good things in my life, to hold them forever in my possession, that makes gratitude so difficult for me. I have to learn to release my death-hold on them.


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