And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:16-19

Heavenly Father, this portion of your Word highlights the wonders of your love, the heartbeat of the gospel, and the essence of your being. You are love. We praise, bless, and adore you for being so generous, merciful, and grace-full.It also underscores our calling to love all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations, all the time—including our upcoming Thanksgiving gatherings. Relationships expose our need for the gospel more than anything else. At a time when our world, communities, and many of our families, are divided along political, spiritual, or cultural lines, may your love be supersized in our hearts and midst.

Because of your great love for us in Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of the risks of love. As this Scriptures says, we can “know and rely on the love God has for us”. May your perfect love continue to drive out all our fears—including the fears related to the loving in stressed, awkward, or broken family stories.

Help us love our family members in fresh and creative ways. Give us thick skins, so we won’t take things too personally. Give us big hearts, so we’ll love family members for who they are, not who we want (need) them to be. Fill us with your kindness, compassion, patience, and forbearance. Nobody in our families is beyond the need or reach of your grace—including us.

Replace our irritation with intrigue, and our hair-trigger reactions with long-fused respect. May we “roll out the red carpet,” more than we roll our eyes; listen more than we launch, and cherish more than we challenge. Whatever culinary delights show up on our Thanksgiving menu, may the greatest feast be your welcoming heart and Fatherly kindness. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ tender and triumphant name.