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Content about Thanksgiving Day

September 9, 2016

I’m sure I’m not the only worship leader to wonder what to do for the annual Thanksgiving Day service. Sometimes it feels like I have to manufacture a spirit of thankfulness for this one day before returning to business as usual the next morning. What if I’m not in a particularly thankful mood? What if my congregation is facing or enduring a tough situation? Manufacturing thankfulness for an hour of worship sounds trite and inappropriate.

May 31, 2009

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.

May 31, 2007

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

May 31, 2007

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.

September 2, 2003

I love type. If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you have picked up on my infatuation with letter forms but also, no doubt, my resistance to traditional banner letters. So much can go wrong so quickly.

Lois Prahlow, one of the banner design workshop presenters at the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, had such a clever idea that I couldn’t resist passing it on–and the inspiration it gave me for a Thanksgiving visual in my own church.

September 2, 2003

On Thanksgiving Day many churches offer a very traditional worship service: Psalm 100, a litany of thanksgiving, “Come, You Thankful People, Come.” On a day when we look back with gratitude at God’s good gifts to us, it makes sense to make use of the work and wisdom of our forebears and to worship using that which is tried and true. Other congregations seek innovation: pilgrim puppets behind the pulpit, prayers of thanks colored (not written) in crayon on scraps of paper and dropped in the offering plate.

September 1, 2002

We were just finishing a ten-week series on “the big words” of Reformed doctrine. The word for Thanksgiving Day was providence, God’s continuing care for the world. As we started putting the service together, it became clear to us that we could sing practically the entire message. The idea of having a “lighter” service after all of the heavy doctrine was appealing. But how could we get all of the songs we wanted to sing into a one-hour time frame?

August 31, 2001

We developed and have used or adapted this litany for several Thanksgiving services. The structure is simple—the leader gives thanks for very specific things, and the people affirm their thanks for those items with a more general phrase. We encourage the use of several different leaders on the different sections of the litany.

August 31, 2000

Recognizing that some people may be going through difficult times when they worship, our worship committee came up with an idea for a Thanksgiving service that speaks about giving thanks both when we are “in the desert” and when we are “in the promised land.”

May 31, 1999

Sharon Bandstra (top) is a worship planner at Terrace Christian Reformed Church, Terrace, British Columbia, where, until recently, Alisa Siebenga was a member of the worship committee. Alisa now lives in Lacombe, Alberta.

May 31, 1996

It would be hard to overstate the enthusiasm Meredith Cleghorn brought to an idea everyone thought novel and promising, an idea Meredith herself had come up with—an idea she thought would put Bethel Church on the map for once. On good days, Meredith wanted to believe that stodgy Bethel was the turtle of the old fable, the rest of the upstart evangelical churches around them a pack of speedster rabbits.

May 31, 1996

At the beginning of time and space,
God gave us a world.

And God filled it with the useful—

with granite, with gravity with grapes.

And God gave us minds and hands
to engineer the granite,
to probe the forces of gravity,
to squeeze the grapes.

At the beginning of time and space,
God gave us a world.

And God filled it with the beautiful—
May 31, 1995


Psalm 65

[Response (in bold) sung by the congregation, using the tune KREMSER PsH 237, PH 559, RL 62, TH 97]

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed.

We praise you, O God, our Redeemer, Creator; in grateful devotion our tribute we bring,

May 31, 1992
We Enter into God's Presence with Praise

Prelude (The prelude will be organ music and congregational singing. The songs will be sung without announcement. Congregation is to join in as they enter.)

"God of All Ages"
[PH 262, PsH 599, RL 494, TH 710]

"We Plow the Fields and Scatter"
[PH 560, PsH 456, RL 17, TH 714]

"Now Thank We All Our God"
[PH 555, PsH 454, RL 61, TH 98]

May 31, 1990

Planning worship that becomes a meaningful dialogue between God and his people requires careful attention to each part of the liturgy. Every call to worship, response, assurance of pardon, and hymn should contribute to the theme of the service and to our ongoing conversation with our God.

In the series of service plans that follows I have attempted to emphasize that dialogue. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians provides an ideal framework for a series of services that focus on thanksgiving.

May 31, 1990

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with

August 31, 1987

Last winter a news anchorwoman from one of the large television stations in the New York area traded in her expensive business suit for a bundle of rags. Convinced that in order to really understand the plight of the homeless you have to become one of them, she spent a week as a bag lady on the streets of New York City.

August 31, 1986

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 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.