For the first time in probably five years, if not more, I am spending Thanksgiving with my family. It is not because I was estranged from them, but more so because the cost of plane tickets deterred me from going. But this year, a way was made for me to be with them and I am extremely grateful and excited about having the opportunity to catch up with everyone. As such, I’ve been thinking about what I will bring with me on this trip.

It started out as a bottle of wine, but then I realized that for the number of people that will probably be at dinner, I would not be able to afford that many bottles. (Besides the fact that it’s illegal to take wine across state lines because of all the rules and regulations surrounding the spirit.) Then I thought that I would bring cupcakes, but then I realized not only would it be impossible to get them through airport security without them suggesting that the icing counts toward that fluid restriction, but my family aren’t cupcake eaters. Then I thought that I might write a prayer or recite a scripture before dinner, as if I were the family minister. It seemed to make logical sense since there is this notion that I am the “goody two shoes” of the clan. But that didn’t seem right either. And then it dawned on me, I don’t have to bring anything with me to present to them besides just bringing myself.

Now this is not to say I think I’m God’s gift to mankind. No, it is more about offering myself up and preparing myself to be a blessing to my family. You see, anytime we go somewhere or see someone, there is a level of preparation that must take place. And our families should not be excluded from this process of preparation. This preparation I am referring to goes beyond making sure you packed the right clothes. This is about bringing the right kind of mindset, bringing an open heart and having a willing spirit. In church we talk a lot about preparing ourselves for worship and how that preparation doesn’t just begin the night before service, it starts from the moment we step out of service. We start applying all that we’ve heard in service to our lives as soon as we exit the sanctuary. We prepare for worship Sunday to Sunday with no break in between by worshipping throughout the week, reading the Bible, praising God and praying. I believe our preparation to see our loved ones this week can be just as sacred.

So as many look toward traveling to see family, friends, and loved ones this Thanksgiving, here is a prayer to prepare yourself as a blessing:

Heavenly Father,
I thank you for the blessing of family and friends and I thank you for making a way for people to spend time with the ones whom they love during this holiday. As we pack our bags to hop on planes, trains, and in automobiles, may we be mindful of the spirit that we are bringing with us. Give us a joyful spirit so that we may enter our family and friend’s homes with thanksgiving in our hearts just as we enter your gates with thanksgiving in our hearts. Let us enter the homes we will visit with praise for those who have opened their homes up to us. For those of us who may be entering into broken homes or fragmented and dysfunctional family situations, give us hearts that forgive and spirits bent on reconciliation and mercy. Help us to be mindful of our every thought, word, and deed in the midst of our loved ones. Season our speech with kind words and words of encouragement. Open our hearts to love and kindness. Let our every deed be an out flowing of the love you have shown us. Bless our time with our families, friends, and loved ones and make us all better for it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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