Focal verse

Praise the Lord!
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
—Psalm 106:1

Reflection

I heard the stomping of feet across the wooden floors, then my kids shouting, “Superheroes!”

I stood at the sink, dish scrubber in hand, while they ran in circles with their capes flying behind them.

“Want to watch us, Mommy? We’re superheroes! We have to go help some people,” my eldest said.

As quickly as they had entered the kitchen with outstretched arms, clenched fists and unbridled laughter, they left. I remained staring at a pile of dishes and the sunlight streaming through the window.

I smiled. Little did they know they were helping me see joy right in front of me.

I hope they read God’s word and say, “Thank you, God, for your story that fills me with hope.”

Children make it easy for us to delight in small things. It’s what they do naturally. But how do we teach them about gratitude? I want to see them move from joy to recognizing the source of their joy. I want them to see God as the author of all that is good.

I want them to see a sunset and say, “Wow, God, that’s beautiful. Thank you for your creation.”

I hope they feel the love of family and friends and say, “Thank you, God, for a rich and varied community that loves me for who I am.”

I hope they read God’s word and say, “Thank you, God, for your story that fills me with hope.”

The best way to teach gratitude to our children is to model it and offer our own gratitude first. The more we share our gratitude out loud and name that for which we are thankful, the more our children will too.

A prayer for you: Thank you, God, for my children—for their joy and curiosity, their life and love. Thank you for your gifts of grace and mercy that are new every day. Amen.

Practices

With younger children, be silly and make up a song together. Walk around your home or neighborhood singing, “Thank you, God!” and go back and forth naming what you’re thankful for.

Where do you spend the most time as a family? Fill that area with slips of paper naming things for which you give thanks: family and friends, your favorite foods, your home and community, etc. Add to this list throughout the month.

Together as a family, read Thanksgiving in the Woods (Beaming Books, 2019) and talk about how your family can include others at your table, both virtually and in person with safety restrictions.

Prayers

We pray for our country: for peace, justice and compassionate leaders.
We pray for the work of ELCA World Hunger in alleviating hunger and advocating to change systems that perpetuate food insecurity.
We pray for families who are separated from one another during the holidays.
We give thanks for technology that connects people around the world.
We give thanks for laughter among friends and the smiles of children.
We give thanks for local businesses.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Service opportunity 

Thanksgiving is a great time to invite others to share a meal together, but perhaps this month is the time to commit to sharing your food more consistently. Talk as a family and pick a date to make your favorite meal, a dessert or a loaf of bread. Every month, share that food with someone or donate food to your local food pantry.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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