As our worship team began planning for Thanksgiving, we realized we wanted to do more than offer a one-time Thanksgiving service. We wanted the congregation to think about what they were thankful for through the whole Thanksgiving season, and we also wanted them to think about how they could give back to God. This series was started six weeks before Thanksgiving.
We started with a broad view and narrowed the scope of our thanks-giving each week, beginning with the world and moving to our nation, our state, our community, our church, and ourselves. A special bulletin cover conveyed each week’s theme. We also created handouts on colored paper for each week. Our theme verse for the series, Malachi 3:10, was printed at the top of the handouts. Each week had a column listing a verse for Thanks and another for Giving. We also listed each day of the week and encouraged our church family to write something they were thankful for each day as well as thinking of a way that they could give to others. These handouts are available in RW 116 online at ReformedWorship.org at the end of this article.
We took a “can offering” each week for a designated need that coincided with our weekly focus. This offering was giving beyond our weekly offerings. Tin cans were placed on metal folding chairs at each exit of the church. The children gave their offering as they left for Children’s Church; the congregation was awed by the sound of the coins as they gave. The rest of the congregation gave as they left the service. The causes we supported are as follows:
Week 1: Your World—offering for missions
Week 2: Your Nation—offering for World Renew/disaster relief (worldrenew.net)
Week 3: Your State—offering for prison ministry
Week 4: Your Community—offering for county food pantry (food items or money)
Week 5: Your Church—offering for church project
Week 6: Your Self—offering our talents and gift in areas of church service
We also set up a Thanks-Giving table that held notecards and a basket where people could leave comments of thanks and giving, which were used in our Thanksgiving Day litany.
Prelude and Personal Meditation
Call to Worship
“Now Thank We All Our God” (st. 1, 3) LUYH 543, PH 555, PsH 454, TH 98, WR 14
“For the Beauty of the Earth” (st. 1, 3, 4) LUYH 19, PH 473, PsH 432, TH 116, WR 40
Meet and Greet Each Other
Thanks-Giving Litany (available in RW 116 online at ReformedWorship.org)
Special Music: “Thank You”—Ray Boltz
Prayer for God’s Guidance
Scripture: Luke 17:11-19
Message: “Beyond Gratitude”
Prayer of Application
Song: “With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring” (st. 1, 2, 4) LUYH 585, PsH 183, TH 88
God’s Parting Blessing
Song: “Praise and Thanksgiving” (st. 1, 3) LUYH 873, PsH 631, WR 732
Reader 1: Our Thanks and Giving for the past weeks began with a broad category—our world—and has narrowed to a very personal one—ourselves. As we have prayerfully considered our vast blessings, from the creation of the world to our ability to breathe, we have also considered our giving in the same way: from supporting our missionaries around the world to what are we personally doing with the gifts, talents, and time God has given us.
As we reflect on the verses used to help us focus each week, we are also going to share some of the responses we have received. We hope that this series has been a blessing to each of you, but more important, that it has been a time of thanks and giving to our God, along with abundant praise.
Reader 2: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough to store it.” (Mal. 3:10)
Reader 1: Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. (1 Chron. 16:8, NLT)
Reader 2: Thank you, Lord, for the creation of this beautiful world in which we live and the work of missionaries around the world.
Reader 1: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt. 5:14)
Reader 2: Through our giving we bless the work of our missionaries (insert names).
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
Reader 1: Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” (1 Chron. 16:35)
Reader 2: We thank you, Lord, for the freedoms our nation enjoys, including the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. Help us not to take them for granted. But we realize too that all over the world, things we take for granted can quickly disappear.
Reader 1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)
Reader 2: God used us to bless those in need through our giving to World Renew, especially in the reconstruction work after Hurricane Isaac.
Congregation: Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings.
Reader 1: And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)
Reader 2: We thank you for the state we live in and all those who work to make it possible for us to live and work in peace. We recognize too that not all people desire peace, have experienced it, or even know what it means often through no fault of their own. We pray for those who through their actions keep peace at bay especially for those who because of those actions find themselves in prison. May your Spirit move in and through them, that they may be restored.
Reader 1: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matt. 25:37-40)
Reader 2: We thank you, Lord, that we are able to support the work of Cornerstone Prison Church.
Congregation: With gratitude, Lord, we offer these gifts.
Reader 1: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)
Reader 2: We praise you, Lord, for a community that comes together in times of trouble.
Reader 1: The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. (Prov. 22:9)
Reader 2: Lord, we thank you that because you have blessed us with resources we were able to give to the Douglas County Food Pantry.
Congregation: We give with a thankful heart.
Reader 1: I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. (Ps. 35:18)
Reader 2: We, the congregation of New Holland, are so thankful for the blessing of a shepherd for our church, the celebration of the sacraments, the joys of baptism, the foundation established by our ancestors, and the fellowship we enjoy with young and old.
Reader 1: And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Heb. 13:16)
Reader 2: Having been blessed through worship we gave to further enable our worship with funds toward the purchase of a projection system.
Congregation: We worship the Lord with gladness.
Reader 1: You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Ps. 118:28-29)
Reader 2: You are invited to spend a moment of silence to offer your own words of thanksgiving to our God.
Reader 1: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)
Reader 2: In appreciation of the multitude of blessings we enjoy, we have prayerfully given back. We have given of our money through our “can offerings,” but now let us consider how we can give of our time and talents, using them to honor and glorify God and to help others.
Congregation: We remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35b)