Here’s a creative idea for a Thanksgiving service that you can possibly use or adapt for your congregation.  Instead of preaching about thankfulness or prayers of thanks, we decided to create a space for the congregation to pray and give thanks.

So we took the entire 30 minute sermon block and used it for a guided reflective prayer.  I’ve posted the audio as well as the text below.

I want to give credit to anewliturgy.com – I borrowed several prayers and elements from their liturgies – check out their website for more ideas and prayers.  Specifically this Liturgy No. 6 ‘The Examen‘ that served as a primary inspiration for this time of prayer.  

A Few Notes

  • Before you read:  I’d suggest listening to the audio recording mp3 below to get the best a sense of how the prayer time was done.  I’ve typed out a majority of the prayers and readings but not all of it is in the transcript.  Ideally, find a time when you have 40 minutes of free time to listen to the mp3 and read through the text of the various sections.
  • Music:  Since we didn’t have a keyboard player to add some background pad sounds, I purchased a stock music file that happened to be in the key of E so that I could use it between the various choruses that we were singing (which were all in the key of E).
  • Song Selection: Obviously you can choose songs that are familiar to your congregation for each section, I’d suggest keeping them to simple, repeatable choruses for each theme.
  • Length:  Overall the service went a little longer than expected, and there a few areas that could have been trimmed down to keep it closer to the 25-30 minute range.

Tell them what to expect…

  • There will be some talking, some scripture, some guided thoughts, some silence, and some singing
  • Your mind will wander, if it does, don’t worry, just take a long deep breath and say ‘Give Thanks’ to refocus your attention
  • Intentional simplicity and repetition

You are part of something bigger…

In all the busyness of life, with our concerns, worries, and stresses, our universe can become very small.

Watch:

Watch this YouTube video about the size of the universe to reflect on your place in this universe.  (make sure to mute the audio)

Reflect:

  1. Take a minute to grasp your place in this massive universe
  2. Allow your heart to simply be in awe of God – Creator of the heavens and the earth
  3. Remind yourself of God’s grandeur
  4. Think about the universe in all of its bigness
  5. Think about the earth in its infinite creativity, beauty and complexity
  6. In what ways have you seen yourself do you make yourself the center of the universe?
  7. In him all things were made
  8. What does it mean to be part of something bigger

Sing:

God of Wonders (Marc Byrd & Steve Hindalong)

God of Wonders beyond our galaxy
You are Holy Holy
The univers declares your majesty
You are Holy Holy
Lord of heaven and Earth
Lord of heaven and Earth

Holy Chorus (Dan Loewen)

Ho..ly… the earth is filled with your glo..ry and all creation sings (repeat)

Start this video at 15 seconds and make sure to mute the audio.

Thank God that you were created…

Read:  

(Credit – anewliturgy.com)

All of creation beckons me to worship You.
The grandeur of the universe, echoes Your Glory!
More than spectacular is the work of Your hands!
Who can match Your brilliance and authority?
You set boundaries for the ocean,
You raise majestic mountains to touch the sky
Sunrise and sunset happens on Your watch

——

Who is humankind that You are mindful of us,
the frail sons and daughters that You would
entrust us rule over all you’ve made?
Who are the peoples of the earth that we get to bare your image?

—–

Who am I that you even notice me?
How can it be that my tears and dreams matter to you?
Eternal God – beyond time and space,
Who am I that you lean in when I draw near?
Wind and sea obey at your command,
yet you invite me to follow You with a whisper.
Thank you for creating me and giving me life

Reflect:

What does it mean for you, that the God who created the billions of galaxies and stars and planets and the vast expanse of the universe… created you…?

Of all of the things he purposed, he decided to make you.

Putting together your DNA, the molecules, atoms, the things the make you, you!

The Psalms say “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…

Take a moment to thank God that you exist.

Sing:

I am a Child Of The God of The Universe (Kevin Boese)

I am a child of the God of the universe
I am your child because of Jesus  (repeat)

Savouring Your Blessings…

Thank you God for this incredible world full of so much beauty, so much goodness, so many blessings

Think about the things you are thankful for.  

Less about a list, this is savoring our blessings.

Hold your hands in front of you in a fist and count off on your fingers, 10 things that come to mind that you are thankful for.  Hold your hands open in gratitude at the end.

(leave 1-2 minutes here for silence – yes it will feel too long and awkward, that’s ok)

What are the things that you deeply appreciate
Who are the people who you love and who love you
Let their faces smile in front of you
Breathe deeply – breathe in their love
Whatever arguments or tensions – as you exhale – set that aside for now
What are your talents – gifts – natural abilities – thank God for those
What are the Supernatural gifts – that God has blessed you with
What are the virtues in your life – where through the grace of God you feel the power of christ moving in your life – thank God
Maybe you’re a good listener, your patient compassionate, aAcknowledge these blessings come from one source.
What’s happened in the last few days that you are especially grateful for?  That make your heart smile?
Of all these things – what’s most alive for you – what are you most greatful for?

As you think of the things that you are thankful for, where in your life have you been tempted to focus on how life isn’t good enough.  Where you’ve been tempted to slip into dis-content?  Where have you been tempted to complain?

Is there any thing in those situations that you can be thankful for?

Prayer:

So God with our open hands, we think about how we hold all these blessings we have received from you, and we give you thanks.

Whether they are big things or small things, we acknowledge them.
We acknowledge God that you don’t owe us anything!  All of this is a gift!

Sing:

Thank you for it All (Dan Loewen)

Thank you for this breath
Thank you for this day
Thank you that your life flows through my veins
Thank you for this gift
Thank you for this life
Thank you for it all

Listen to the section of prayer on thankfulness for inspiration – I used a majority of his words and reflections for this section on thankfulness.

Starts at 3:20

 

 

What do you wish you could be thankful for…

Reflect:  

Inevitably you’ve probably thought about areas of your life that you wish you could be thankful for.

Situations you wish were different, relationships that you wish were healed.
Take a moment in complete honesty before God to acknowledge what those are.

(Silence)

Is there anything in those situations that you can still find to be thankful for?

Prayer:

So God the creator of the entire universe, we thank you for making us, for making this good world, and for the blessings we have.  And at least in the midst of brokenness and struggle, we thank you that your presence walks along with us in the midst of these challenges.

Where have we contributed to brokenness in our world…

Reflect:

We also want to take time to acknowledge the ways in which we contribute to brokenness in this world.  Maybe it’s greed, maybe being short tempered, lacking compassion, were there moments this past week where you were proud and you be-littled other people?  Did you give in to an addiction of some kind this past week?  Were you dishonest?  Did you take something that didn’t belong to you?  Is there a moment this past week, where you had a sense of the right decision and you chose the opposite… intentionally?

In the safety of God’s love, bring those things before God.

(Silence)

Song:

Most Merciful God (The Brilliance)

 

Most Merciful God – forgive us – forgive us

Most Merciful God – forgive us – forgive us

For all the things we have done and left undone

For all the things we have done and left undone

Prayer:

(www.anewliturgy.com)

Lord God,

I have sinned against you;

I have done evil in your sight.

I am sorry and repent.

Have mercy on me according to your love.

Wash away my wrongdoing and cleanse me from my sin.

Renew a right spirit within me

and restore the joy of your salvation,

through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Amen.

So far has he removed our sins from us…

Read:  

Romans: 5-6-8

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Psalm 103:8-12
8The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Reflect

Take a moment to thank Jesus for forgiving your sins
Thank him for his patient grace

Thank him that his mercies are new every single morning

Song:

Once Again (Matt Redman) – Bridge

Thank you for the cross
Thank you for the cross
Thank you for the cross my friend (3x)

 

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

God is with you…

Reflect:

We thank you that salvation doesn’t stop there.
The incredible gift of this Gospel is that your Holy Spirit dwells in us.
Take a moment to again breathe deeply… in the same way that air fills your lungs, imagine God’s very presence and spirit filling your soul…

(Silence)

God is with you
God is with you
God is with you

(repeat several times)

Take a moment to thank him for his presence in your life

Thank you for it all…

Prayer:

God we thank you, creator of the universe for making us, and this good world. While we are imperfect and we make mistakes, we thank you Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and your spirit that dwells within us.  Your abiding presence that goes with us every step of the way.  Like the air we breathe, like every breath, you are with us.  And this is part of your Kingdom coming on earth, and that we can be part of that.  May we respond not only with thankfulness but with our lives and our actions, with generosity towards others.

Corporate Prayer:

(www.anewliturgy.com)

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages.
Amen.

Song:

Thank you for it all (Dan Loewen)

Thank you for this breath
Thank you for this day
Thank you that your life flows through my veins
Thank you for this gift
Thank you for this life
Thank you for it all