By Chet Jechura
This year, Thanksgiving will look very different for families in the United States than in previous years. Many families will not gather due to the pandemic. And many that do gather will have one or more empty seats at their table as they sit down to share a Thanksgiving meal.
These now empty seats were once filled with loved ones whose sacred lives were stolen this year by an uncontrolled virus that has put millions of people out of work and is now also causing a global hunger crisis.
We hope you will consider praying this prayer as you enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this year, either by yourself or with your loved ones, in whatever safe way you can participate.
Our hearts are heavy with grief over tables that have empty seats this year.
We mourn the lives lost amid the two pandemics of COVID-19 and racism.
We lament the global hunger crisis worsened by the pandemic.
We bemoan the domestic hunger crisis that disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities.
And yet, we make space today to give thanks for you are still with us!
We give thanks for technology that allows us to gather safely with those we love.
We give thanks for farmers and other food heroes who feed our world.
We give thanks for the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who save millions of lives.
Move us by your grace to share the abundance of your provision and love with others this day and in the days to come.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
To date, more than 250,000 people in the U.S. have lost their lives to COVID-19, which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown families. The rapid spread of the virus among these communities once again lays bare the other ongoing pandemic of racism, which has gone unchecked in the United States for centuries.
As the sun sets earlier with each day, our hearts are heavy and full of lament as we gather this year for Thanksgiving. It is important and healthy that we name that lament and offer our grief to God.
And still, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on gratitude. A fundamental truth of Christian faith is that God is always with us, no matter what. God’s light pierces through the darkness and the promise of God’s love and faithfulness endures forever.
This year, let us gather to give thanks for the hope, joy, and love that surrounds us and carries us through this trying time, even as we lament the lives lost and forever changed by the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism.
Chet Jechura is audience engagement manager at Bread for the World.