THE GENERAL THANKSGIVING
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable 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 pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer—
Reflections from DR. STEVE McCORMICK
NTS William M. Greathouse Chair for Wesleyan-Holiness Theology
The Faith of the Church has been formed by Prayer. And the faith of John and Charles Wesley was deeply shaped by the church’s Prayer Book. “The General Thanksgiving,” is perhaps, the single most important prayer that illumines the best of their theology. After all, they were following in the faithful steps of the Ancient Church’s practice: the “law of prayer” (lex orandi) is the “law of faith” (lex credendi). That is to say, their prayer was their theology, and their theology was their prayer. And so, from the poets songbook, to the preachers sermons, theirs was a life shaped by the prayer of “The General Thanksgiving.” All the salient marks of this prayer are easily traced in the faith and mission of these Anglican brothers of Methodism.
During this Thanksgiving season why not spend time praying this prayer daily? Let the words of the Church’s prayer and the meditations of all our hearts desire be pleasing in your sight O Lord. May we be transformed and re-ordered to partake of God’s desire for the redemption of the whole world. As we pray this prayer, may we hear John Wesley’s prayer as a “faith filled with the energy of God’s love,” and doxological vision and mission for the life of the world. We are all “coming from God and returning to God,” says John Wesley, so let this prayer reorder our posture to be one of humble gratitude for the unending mercies of God the Father, for the immeasurable redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the ‘means of grace,’ that is the very gifts of God’s presence in these gracious means to reach our true end—the glory of God. “The Spirit will not let us miss providence’s way,” says Charles Wesley. That is our ‘hope of glory.’ Our doxological return to God is God’s promise. So in the betwixt of God’s time, may this prayer of “General Thanksgiving” make us attentive and mindful of all God’s mercies so that we will be courageous with our bodies and actions as we give witness to the glory of God filling all of heaven and earth. May our faith be so reordered with God’s desire that our faith “only breathes to breathe thy love.”—Charles Wesley. May this prayer reorder our desires so that our holiness and righteousness truly reflects the glory of the Cross in the redemption of the whole world. Amen.
—Soli Deo Gloria!—
I find myself in a coffee shop where I’ve spent a lot of my time studying, but surprisingly also building friendships (so maybe not quite as much studying!). I’ve met a dear friend here who is the manager in this coffee shop. I don’t think she is aware of how much she’s impacted my life, as much as she says I’ve impacted hers. I want to thank you all for your love, prayers and support which has given me the opportunity to build relationships with people here in the Republic of Ireland. Last week marked 8 months of my 10.5 months living in the Emerald Isle. These months here in Ireland have been FULL of me learning about who God is, who I am as his daughter, and how God’s mission is taking flesh here in the Republic of Ireland. I’ve been challenged and encouraged in so many ways during these months.
In early September I began a pilgrimage around Ireland with classmates and mentors exploring the celtic roots of Ireland. While on this journey, I unfortunately heard news back home of my aunt’s passing. This was especially hard while being so far away from home, but I was blessed to be surrounded by fellow pilgrims and friends who prayed for me and my family and supported me throughout the remainder of the pilgrimage. I spent a week and half journeying around Ireland on this pilgrimage learning about the Celtic way of Christianity through those like as St. Patrick and St. Brigid who helped transform pagan Ireland to Christianity. Throughout this pilgrimage, I saw first hand High Crosses which dated back as early as the the 8th century. These crosses told the Story of God by depicting parts of Biblical narratives on each panel to those who were illiterate. Learning about how these high crosses served to share the story of God in Celtic times, reminded me how throughout this year I have been able to serve as a high cross to those who don’t know or fully understand the story of God.
Like my friend who manages a coffee shop, God has given me the opportunity to share with her stories in the Bible which have offered hope to her, but I’ve also been able to share the story of God just through my presence as our friendship continues to grow. It is in my relationships that I have been able to share the story of God, and therefore, serve as a high cross in my community.
After returning from the pilgrimage, my rhythm of life here in Ireland began back up again. I have the opportunity each week to serve in various places in the community. And just to share with you a couple opportunities I’ve received recently… I just began helping co-lead a health and well-being module for young people; covering physical health, social health, spiritual health, and mental health at the youth project I volunteer at in the community with youth who are at-risk. I also have the opportunity this Friday to lead a creative arts night at our local youth cafe—which I am looking forward to. Throughout this year I was given the opportunity to engage with a local community and each opportunity I have been given has shaped me significantly. As my time here in Ireland comes to a close, I look forward to sharing with you all about how I’ve been shaped and how God has allowed me to participate in His mission and I can’t wait to hear what this year has held for you and how you too were able to engage in God’s mission. My challenge to you is to become high crosses in your communities and to share the story of God with those around you. Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again.
Grace & Peace,