At Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Denver, Colorado, Pastor Michelle VanDenBerg, Debra Komodore, Lu Lofe, and the worship visuals team explored the idea of using rich liturgical visual images as an expression of thanksgiving.
- Share stories of God’s grace: For ideas on how to do this, see crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits/faith-storytelling-toolkit.
- Symphony of praise: Invite children (and children at heart) to come forward and choose either a small percussive instrument, a flag, or a ribbon to use during a sung time of praise.
This litany is adapted from one I wrote for our worship gathering on the Sunday of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. The litany draws from the 1 Chronicles 16 account of David arranging musicians, priests, and others to praise God after the ark of the covenant had returned to Jerusalem. The celebratory context and the involvement of a wide range of voices and instruments encourages us to include multiple voices and instruments in our own thanksgiving celebrations.
(Note: All Reader parts come from 1 Chronicles 16:8–36, NIV)
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.
This service is full of worshiper participation, including lay readers, instrumentalists, lots of congregational singing, and the opportunity for congregants to write their own prayers of thanksgiving. Each bulletin includes one or two slips of paper printed with the words “I am thankful for . . .” Worshipers are invited to complete the sentence. These slips are gathered as a second offering, organized to avoid too much duplication, and then brought to the pastor, who incorporates them into the congregational prayer.
Invitation to Worship
This morning we enter a time of worship with these words from Paul, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). No matter what circumstances come our way, we have much for which to be thankful. As you prepare your hearts for worship this morning, praise the Lord for who he is and thank God for all his blessings.
Prelude, Slide Show with Bible Verses
Gathering Song: “Come, All You People, Praise Our God” PsH 242
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.