As people entered the church, they were given a leaf-shaped piece of paper and a pen. During the service they were asked to write a thanksgiving item on the leaf; during the offering they were invited to place their leaves on an artificial “tree” spiked with lots of nails for hanging the leaves.
Participating in this offering of thanksgiving became almost sacramental to some members of the congregation. One elderly woman said she hoped we wouldn’t throw the leaves away. We kept them there for a few weeks and also projected some of the thanksgiving items on the video screen during offering times for a few weeks after our thanksgiving service.
Note that the prayers and responses marked CT were taken from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, which can be found in its entirety and is available for downloading at www.crcna.org/pages/our_world_main.cfm.
Song: “Uyai Mose / Come, All You People” SNC 4
Call to Worship
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right for us to give thanks and praise
to him from whom all blessings flow.
Song: “Shout to the Lord” SNC 223, WR 94
Prayer: The Worship Sourcebook, C.1.4.1
Song: “Now Thank We All Our God” CH 788, PH 555, PsH 454, SFL 33, WR 14
The Source of Our Thanksgiving
Scripture: Revelation 1:12-18
Hymn: “There Is a Redeemer” CH 308, SNC 145, WR 117
Thanksgiving for Family and Friends
We serve Christ as children, as singles, or as married couples by devotion to the work of God, and so add our love and service to the building of his kingdom. (CT, st. 48)
We serve God
by reflecting his covenant love in life-long loyalty,
and by teaching his ways,
so that children may know Jesus as their Lord
and learn to use their gifts in a life of joyful service
to God and to each other. (CT, st. 49)
Hymn: “Bind Us Together”
(Maranatha Praise, 3rd ed., 43)
Thanksgiving for Education and Work
In education we seek to acknowledge the Lord
by promoting schools and teaching
in which the light of his Word shines in all learning,
where students, of whatever ability,
are treated as persons who bear God’s image
and have a place in his plan. (CT, st. 50)
In our work, even in dull routine,
we answer the call to serve our Lord.
We work for more than wages,
and manage for more than profit,
so that mutual respect and the just use of goods and skills
may shape the work place,
and so that, while we earn or profit,
useful products and services may result. (CT, st. 51)
Hymn: “As Stewards of the Vineyard” PsH 611
Thanksgiving for Church
We grieve that the church,
which shares one Spirit, one faith, one hope,
and spans all time, place, race, and language,
has become a broken communion in a broken world.
When we struggle for the purity of the church
and for the righteousness God demands,
we pray for saintly courage.
When our pride or blindness blocks
the unity of God’s household,
we seek forgiveness.
We marvel that the Lord
gathers the broken pieces to do his work,
and that he blesses us still
with joy, new members, and surprising evidences of unity.
We commit ourselves to seeking and expressing
the oneness of all who follow Jesus. (CT, st. 43)
Hymn: “There’s No God as Great” PsH 517
Thanksgiving to God for Daily Bread
Responsive Reading: Psalm 23
A Time of Meditation
[Congregation is invited to write things for which they’re thankful on the thanksgiving leaves. Members of the congregation, including children, may play instruments during this time.]
Thanksgiving . . . in the Face of Suffering
Scripture Reading: Psalm 42:1-3, 5-11, New Living Translation
Prayer of Intercession
Thanksgiving for the Opportunity to Share
Scripture Reading (leader and congregation)
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? (James 2:14-16)
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19.9-10)
Hymn: “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life” PH 408, PsH 602, WR 591
“Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” PH 367, PsH 601, WR 273
[During the extended introduction to this song, everyone is invited to bring forward their thanksgiving offerings: food drive; money; leaves for thanksgiving tree.]
Thanksgiving Time with the Children
Children’s message reflecting on the gifts gathered
Looking to the Future
We long for that day
when Jesus will return as triumphant king,
when the dead will be raised,
and all people will stand before his judgment.
We face that day without fear, for the Judge is our Savior.
For then we will see the Lord face to face.
He will heal our hurts, end our wars,
and make the crooked straight.
Then we will join in the new song
to the Lamb without blemish
who made us a kingdom and priests.
God will be all in all, righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new, and every eye will see at last
that our world belongs to God! (CT, st. 57, 58)
In gratitude, deep gratitude
for all you have granted us,
for all that you have made us,
we give ourselves to you.
Take us out to live as changed people.
Ask much from us.
Expect much from us.
Enable much by us.
Encourage many through us.
So Lord, may we live to your glory,
both as inhabitants of earth and citizens of heaven.
Through Christ the King, whose coming we seek.
Hallelujah! Yes, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Charge and Blessing: Philippians 4:7-9
Doxology: “By the Sea of Crystal” (st. 3) PsH 620, TH 549
The peace of the Lord go with you.
And also with you.
Passing of the Peace