Special -- Thanksgiviing Day

Always With a Song of Thanksgiving
Service Prayers for Thanksgiving Day

          Deuteronomy 26:1-11   Psalm 100   Philippians 4:4-9    John 6:25-35

Reflection on the Passages

The Deuteronomy and Psalm passages issue a strong call to come before God with thanksgiving. They encourage us to remember God’s promises and our need to give thanks in a way that is joyful and uplifting.

The Philippians passage tells us that we have access to God through prayer and supplication. God’s peace may be found through acts of living that are life-giving. Finally, the gospel of John speaks of our foundation as Christians - Jesus is the source of spiritual nourishment. On this Thanksgiving Day we are to keep before us the fact that Jesus satisfies our hunger and our thirst.

The first images that come to mind in creating a service for Thanksgiving Day may be traditional ones of a table filled with a variety of wonderful foods and the people gathered as families, friends and strangers who might express thanksgiving to God for recognized blessings. We may want to take a step deeper and reflect on the first Thanksgiving with Native Americans:  what might the perspective of Native Americans be toward this national day of thanksgiving?

Native Americans’ highly developed combination of community systems and understanding of the natural world made the first Thanksgiving possible.  In 1620 the Wampanoag and the English encountered each other. Theirs were very different cultures that were helping one another. The Wampanoag placed a high value on social relationships- community life. They had an intimate understanding of the environment that allowed them to produce the harvest they celebrated with the English at the first Thanksgiving. It was common among Native Americans to give daily thanks for nature’s gifts. 

Among the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (New York State and parts of the southeastern Canada) there is a Thanksgiving Address. It is sometimes referred to as “the words that come before all else.” The words express thanks for people, Mother Earth, the moon, stars, sun, water, air winds, animals and more.

The prayers that follow attempt to combine the images and feeling tones offered in the scriptures and those from reading about Native Americans and their perspective on Thanksgiving Day.         

For more information on Native American perspectives on Thanksgiving:

http://americanindian.si.edu/education/files/thanksgiving_poster.pdf


Call to Worship

This place of worship has been prepared for us

to come with songs of thanksgiving before our God.

Bring your gifts to the altar and share your stories of blessings!

God has provided so much—even this beautiful day—

So let’s raise our voices and celebrate!

 

Invocation

O God of steadfast love

we entered this space today

to worship you in gladness.

We come into your presence

Singing your praises.

You are our creator; we are your people.

Be with us, O God, as we celebrate all of creation:

We give thanks for the sun, water, air and winds

that nourish your earth

which provides the bounty we enjoy.

Bless us as we bless your name.

 

Prayer of Confession

Leader:            

Thanksgiving Day provides an opportunity for us

to take stock of God’s blessings,

and to reflect on our response to those blessings.

 

Our Creator, you have made an intricate and diverse world,

and set us to cultivate it reverently and responsibly:

Forgive us when we forget our connection with all of creation.

 

 Our Creator, you have made a world of abundance

and intend for us to share so that all may have their “daily bread”.

Forgive us when we lose the sense of hospitality and community.

 

Our Creator, you have sent us Jesus, the “Bread of Life” 

to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst.

Forgive us when we do not respond to his justice and mercy.

 

Every day and all day let us celebrate your goodness.

Forgive us when we fail to turn to you in prayer.

 

Everyday and all day let us shape our very lives

by focusing our minds on what is beautiful and worthy of praise.

Forgive us when we forget that you make all things possible.

 

Assurance of Pardon

We have offered to God the concerns of our hearts and minds.

We trust that God not only hears our prayers

but in God’s almighty wisdom and awareness of our needs

does answer our prayers.

We are a forgiven people.

Thanks be to God!  Amen.

 

Call to Offering

The scriptures tell us to make a joyful noise;

to come into God’s presence with singing and

give thanks and bless God’s name.

This we can do!

We can thank God for the bounty we have received and

we can return to God a portion of our blessing.

We need only to be joyful in our thanksgiving.

 

Dedication

With thanksgiving and joy,

we have returned to you a portion

of the blessings you have given to us.

Bless us and our gifts for your purposes.

 

Benediction

Today, in our prayers around tables,

may we discover what is beautiful and

call it a blessing.

May we recognize the way in which

our lives are intertwined with the lives of others

and with all of God’s creation.

May we be bold to praise God with our thanksgiving.

Go in peace.

 

A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

On this day, O God, we give thanks

in all kinds of communities, or even in solitude.

Our desire in this moment is to come before you

with our prayers of thanksgiving.

 

For some of us the words we offer

will flow easily from our lips.

For others trying to name our blessing may prove difficult.

 

Thanksgiving this year may be very different from previous years:

 

a new table at which to sit,

new persons sitting with us,

or a dear one absent,

worries crowding out our sense of blessing.                

 

These realities may reshape our prayers from years past.

To seek joy may lead through heartbreak.

 

Whatever our reality, O God,

We ask that you help us focus

not so much on material things

(whether their abundance or scarcity)

but rather on how we are living our lives.

 

Help us recognize

all the ways you are present in our live this year.

Help us gather the strength we need for today

and for all of our tomorrows.

Grant us the satisfaction of intimacy with Jesus,

your great gift to us, through whom you offer

Living Water, Bread of Life,

more than we can ask or imagine.

 

Help us to extend our prayers of thanksgiving to you

into tomorrow with joyful spirits.

 

We are loved and blessed and thankful.   Amen. 

 


 

Always with a Song of Thanksgiving: Service Prayers for Thanksgiving Day was written by Henrietta Stith Andrews, a retired UCC Pastor who served as Associate Conference Minister in Michigan.  Rev. Andrews  is a certified Spiritual Director and presently residing in Southfield, Michigan.

Copyright 2010 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 

SECTION MENU
CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org