Our church here in Edgefield County, the Episcopal Church of the Ridge, is unique in the state of South Carolina. We have not one location to worship, but three: Trinity Church in Edgefield, the Church of Our Saviour in Trenton, and Grace Church in Ridge Spring. Our congregation is diverse in the sense that our parishioners live all over Edgefield and Saluda Counties, with some also joining us from Aiken County; we are perhaps not as diverse as we should be as a parish in other ways, but we are members of a very diverse worldwide community. As do churches in many nations who trace their history back to colonial days and the Church of England, our Episcopal Church uses The Book of Common Prayer. Each nation generally has its own version but most of it is held in common, and the BCP includes prayers for all occasions. Here are three that are appropriate to that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving. I offer them to our readers with a sincere wish that you and your family have the most joyous of Thanksgiving holidays.
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. Amen.
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 forever. Amen.
For the Nation: Almighty God, giver of all good things: We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land. They restore us, though we often destroy them. Heal us. We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They make us rich, though we often exploit them. Forgive us. We thank you for the men and women who have made this country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall short of them. Inspire us. We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden from its light. Enlighten us. We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless again and again. Renew us. Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen.