Savoring God’s Good Gifts

A Thanksgiving Service

Back in 2015 we held a Thanksgiving service at Second Christian Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin, based on my favorite Thanksgiving song, “For the Beauty of the Earth.” I still think about that service, so in 2019 I decided to bring it back. I’ve updated some things and added some things, but I followed the same pattern and used the same Scripture texts.

The idea was to think broadly about all that our God has done for us and to spend some time thanking God for all those things.

We handed out paper leaves with the bulletin and placed extra leaves at the end of each pew. We invited people to write on the leaves things for which they were thankful (there were prompts in the bulletin to get people thinking).

If you choose to do this, give the congregation a few minutes during the service to write on their leaves, but feel free to let them write anytime during the service as things come to mind.

Near the end of the service the congregation could put their leaves on a tree. The branches reach up to the heavens to give God glory, and that’s what we want to do.

Prelude

Welcome

Greeting

Call to Worship
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!
—Psalm 100

Song of Thanksgiving
“Give Thanks” Smith, LUYH 358, GtG 647, SSS 489
“For the Beauty of the Earth” Kocher, LUYH 19 (verses 1, 2, 4, and 5), GtG 14, SSS 21

Savoring What’s Around Us: “The Beauty of the Earth”

Scripture Reading
Psalm 33

Meditation
Notes: God is almighty, majestic, and all-powerful. At the same time, God is the God of everyday beauty, of little gifts of grace. God takes an interest in little things and little people—like us. God is attentive to each moment and to each person. God sees us, knows us, and provides for us. As the Heidelberg Catechism says, we can trust God to provide “whatever we need for body and soul” (Q&A 26).

Prayer
“For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth over and around us lies.
Christ, our Lord, to you we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.”
For the rain, the harvest, the flowers, the mountains,
the birds, the leaves; for paychecks, clothing, shelter,
and tasty food, Lord, we say thank you. In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

For the Beauty of the Earth Slideshow
Idea: Ask congregants a few weeks in advance to submit photos they have taken of God’s creation.

Savoring Moments: “The Wonder of Each Hour”

Scripture Reading
Luke 2:8–20

Meditation
Notes: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Have you ever had an experience that was so profound, so meaningful or moving, that you just wanted to record it somehow so that it would never be forgotten—not only sound and video, but also smells and thoughts and emotions? Mary, the mother of Jesus, had one profound experience after another, from the angel’s visit, to the angel’s message that she was carrying the Son of the Most High, to the birth of that child and the crew of shepherds that showed up. But she didn’t just think about these things. She savored them. She turned them every which way in her mind so as to be formed by them. This led to a profound sense of humility before God, and it led to gratitude.

The most wise and humble and grateful people I know are the ones who go through life with a sense of wonder and expectation, seeing evidence of our Creator God in the world around us.

Prayer
“For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night, . . . Christ, our Lord, to you we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.” We thank you for the experiences you’ve given us over the past year. Some have brought us joy. Some have opened our eyes to a new dimension of life. Some have been tough, but through them we have experienced your care— we learned something; we’ve grown. Some of these moments have quietly nurtured us; they’ve been like daily bread to us.

Thank you, Lord, for all these moments—for being present with us, speaking, and providing each day. In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Savoring Loved Ones: “The Joy of Human Love”

Scripture Reading
Ephesians 1:15–23

Meditation
Notes: Nearly every one of Paul’s letters expresses thanksgiving, and always right near the top. That’s a good pattern for us. Beginning our meals and meetings and weeks and worship with thanksgiving makes sense. All that we are and all that we have and all that we’re able to do begins with God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Paul takes note of the Ephesians’ faith, and he thanks God for them and for what he sees happening. Let us, too, notice the gifts of those around us, and let’s thank God for them.

Prayer
“For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild,
Christ, our Lord, to you we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.”

[Take a minute for the congregation to silently name before God people they’re especially grateful for.]

Lord, we thank you for each one mentioned, for your work in their lives, and for the blessing they’ve been to us. Thank you for each one in this church. Help us to see in each other your provision and your love.
Amen.

Response
“Now Thank We All Our God” Rinkart, LUYH 543, GtG 643, SSS 485

Savoring Christ: “Best Gift Divine”

Scripture Reading
2 Corinthians 9:6–15

Meditation
Notes: Everything Paul says about giving flows out of one simple fact: the great generosity of our God. Just as we love because God first loved us, so we give because God first gave to us. And God gave us the most wonderful, indescribable gift: his Son.

Prayer
“For yourself, best gift divine, to the world so freely given, agent of God’s grand design: peace on earth and joy in heaven. Christ, our Lord, to you we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.”

Lord, we’ve thanked you for blessings in the world around us and for the richness of moments and experiences. We’ve thanked you for the blessing of people—all wonderful gifts. But we’ve reserved our most heartfelt gratitude for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Words cannot fully express our thanks. We love you, Lord.
Amen.

[Take a few moments for the congregation to write on their leaves things for which they’re thankful.]

Offering Our Thanks
[Invite everyone who is able to bring forward expressions of their thanks, both financial gifts and leaves for the tree. Those who wish to remain seated may send their gifts up with someone else.]

Closing Prayer

Song of Thanksgiving
“Ten Thousand Reasons” Myrin and Redman, LUYH 559, SSS 440

Blessing

Doxology
“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” Ken, LUYH 965, GtG 606, SSS 696

Moment of Silence

Rev. Keith Buist is pastor of Second Christian Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin. Originally from Cutlerville, Michigan, he attended Trinity Christian College and Calvin Theological Seminary. He enjoys sports, reading, paddling, and a whole range of baked goods.

Reformed Worship 136 © June 2020 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.