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Giving Thanks in the Words of Our Children

A Thanksgiving Day Service

This service centers on the theme of giving thanks for country, church, and children. Each of the three sections features a litany, meditation, and prayer that involve a number of participants from the congregation.

One of the unique aspects of this service involved creating a litany based on comments made by children in their Sunday school classes. Two weeks before Thanksgiving I asked the teachers to poll their students about what they were thankful for and place this list in my church mailbox. The responses were wonderful and resulted in a specific and personalized litany that expressed the particular thanks of the church family.
—PP

Welcome and Announcements

Gathering

Prelude: “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

Call to Worship (Psalm 100)
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness,
come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Song: “Let All Things Now Living” CH 749, PH 554, PsH 453, TH 125, WR 22

We Give Thanks for Our Nation

Reader 1: As we gather for this Thanksgiving Day, we count our blessings, one by one, and realize that we don’t often show enough appreciation for the bounty that is ours.
Reader 2: For redwoods, white plains, and the wild blue yonder,
Reader 1: for Yellowstone and brownstones,
Reader 2: for evergreen trees and orange groves,
Reader 1: for little pink houses and purple mountains’ majesty,
Reader 2: for every divinely painted acre of this sweet land of ours,
All: we give you praise.
Reader 1: For Idaho potatoes and Texas toast,
Reader 2: for Washington apples and Hawaiian pineapples,
Reader 1: for Illinois corn and Maryland crab cakes,
Reader 2: for Ohio cherries and Florida strawberries,
Reader 1: for Philly cheese steaks and Chicago deep dish pizza,
Reader 2: for Maine lobster and Mississippi mud pie,
Reader 1: for every home-cooked meal and home-grown harvest,
All: we give you praise.
Reader 2: O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Reader 1: we thank you this day for
Reader 2: police and firefighters,
Reader 1: for the MDs and the EMTs,
Reader 2: for Army rangers and Navy Seals,
Reader 1: for Air Force cadets and Marine Corps reserves,
Reader 2: for all who serve,
All: we thank them and we thank you, O God, our creator and redeemer.
Reader 1: For Psalm 23 and Ecclesiastes 3,
Reader 2: for “How Great Thou Art” and “Morning Has Broken,”
Reader 1: for “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus Loves Me,”
All: we give you praise.
Reader 2: For uncommon valor that never sleeps;
Reader 1: for steady hands, sturdy legs, broad shoulders, and level heads;
Reader 2: for blood, sweat, and tears; for conquering our fears;
All: we give you praise.
Reader 1: Father, we join with heart and voice all the people of our country to honor and thank you.
Reader 2: We ask you, Lord, as our forefathers and mothers did, to secure for our country and for all peoples of the world the greatest blessings of freedom and peace.
All: O God, hear our prayer. Amen.

Meditation

Prayer

Song: “In the Lord” SNC 220, WR 448

We Give Thanks for Our Church

Let us give thanks to the Lord, our Rock,
our Fortress and our Deliverer.
Let us remember his mercy, for he is gracious and compassionate.
We thank you, Lord, for calling us to faith in Christ,
for putting your Spirit within us,
for giving us the mind of Christ,
for gathering us into your church.

We thank you, Lord,
for extending your grace to us,
for beckoning us to a life of gratitude,
for calling us to service in your kingdom.
Thanks be to God!
Let us give thanks to the Lord, for he satisfies the thirsty.
He fills the hungry with good things, and he heals the afflicted.
Let us celebrate God’s abundant goodness.
We thank you, gracious Father, that you provide for all of our needs.
We praise you, Lord.
For all your gifts that go beyond our basic needs,
for the things that make our work easier,
for the conveniences of modern life,
for the beauty and pleasure that you bring into our lives and church.
Thanks be to God!

Meditation

Prayer

Song: “God Is Here” PH 461, PsH 516, WR 1

We Give Thanks for (and with) Our Children

In the words of our children: For our moms and dads, grandma and Katie, Mrs. T, and my little sister from China,
we give you thanks, O God.
For warm houses in cold weather,
for hospitals that take care of sick people,
for good schools where teachers make learning fun,
we give you thanks, O God.
For friends to play with, fun fairs, pictures,
and a country that has so much I can even go door to door and ask for candy,
we give you thanks, O God.
For theater, talents, songs I make up, books to read, and television,
we give you thanks, O God.
For the freedom of religion and the people who make our church a place of worship,
we give you thanks, O God.
For all the magic kingdoms you’ve created,
we give you thanks, O God.
And because we can be here together
we give you thanks, O God. Amen.

Meditation

Prayer

Song: “O Sing to the Lord” SNC 224, SWM 41, SFL 17, WR 15

We Give Thanks in Shared Voice and Shared Giving

The Shared Voice of God’s People (an opportunity to proclaim thanks)

Offertory: “Now Thank We All Our God” (st. 1-2) CH 788, PH 55, PsH 454, SWM 230, SFL 33, TH 98, WR 14

Offering

Doxology: “Now Thank We All Our God” (st. 3)

Prayer

Benediction

Postlude: “Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks”