Thanksgiving Day (USA)



    Notes for Joel 2:21-27

    • The coming Day of the Lord, described in Joel 2:1, is the key to understanding this passage. At the fearful appearance of the Lord, the people were moved to fasting and repentance. Then, beginning at verse 19, the Lord showed them mercy and spoke the comforting words of verses 21-27.

    • The Jews frequently spoke of redemption for the entire created order. Notice in verses 21-23 that the soil (NRSV) and the animals are addressed before the children of Zion. Compare the coming redemption of the animals to their groaning in Joel 1:18 and 20.

    • The former rains were the rains that normally fell between October and December. The latter rains fell in March and April. Rain in its appropriate season was seen as a sign of God's favor (Leviticus 26:4, Deuteronomy 11:14).

    • After addressing the soil, the animals, and the people, the prophet -- speaking for God -- described the future time of redemption:
      • The threshing floors will be full of grain (verse 24)
      • The vats will overflow with wine and oil (verse 24)
      • All will have plenty to eat and be satisfied (verse 26)
      • They will praise the name of the Lord (verse 26)
      • They will recognize the presence of God in their midst (verse 27)
      • They will never again be put to shame (verses 26, 27)

    • Verse 25: God acknowledged the suffering they had been through. See Joel 1:4 for the first mention of the locusts, grasshoppers, and other insects that plagued Israel.

    • Visit for a wealth of additional online resources. These are offered free of charge.

    Back to top.

    Notes for Matthew 6:25-33
    • Matthew 6:25-33 is generally considered part of the Sermon on the Mount. This section resembles the wisdom teaching of the Proverbs. Rhetorical questions are askedasked to help the hearer realize that neither anxiety nor worry have the ability to solve any of life's problems.

    • Jesus did not encourage his audience to become carefree and irresponsible. He was, instead, exhorting them to set priorities for themselves:
      • Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing (verse 25)?
      • Is God aware of your needs?
      • Can you trust God to care for you?
      • If so, then strive first for the kingdom of God and God's righteousness (verse 33).

    • Visit for a wealth of additional online resources for this text. These are offered free of charge.

    Back to top.

    Putting the Sermon Together
    Thanking God and Looking to the Future.
    Thanksgiving Day is a time for both acknowledgement and hope. Surviving the year was once regarded a major miracle. This year, we give thanks for those who survived the recent cataclysm of Hurricane Sandy, and many hurricane survivors will give thanks for being alive – even if they lost all their earthly possessions. Help your congregation move from giving thanks for things to giving thanks for life and for significant people in their lives. Thanksgiving Day is a time to publicly affirm and acknowledge that had it not been for the mercies of the Lord we would all have been consumed by the challenges of this past year (see Lamentations 3:22, Bible in Basic English or King James Version).

    On Thanksgiving Day, we also dare to express hope. We live with the hope that those we love will be on the pews with us again next year. We timidly embrace hope that we will have what we really need when we need it (Matthew 6:25-33). We live with the hope that the world will become a better place to live for our children and grandchildren. We live with hope and with expectation of better times when the Day of the Lord finally does come to set all of creation aright (Joel 2:21-27). For what will you give thanks this year?

    Which Story?
    When you prepare for Thanksgiving celebrations and the Thanksgiving worship service, is the focus of your congregation upon the abundance or the sharing? Unfortunately, for some, the prevailing "tradition" is to gather and cook mounds of food (more than any reasonable family and its guests could or should ever eat), while bowing our heads in pseudo piety to thank God for being fortunate enough to have such abundance. If we are not careful, Thanksgiving can (or has) become just another reason to overindulge, to flaunt excess, and to exacerbate the lies of division between the haves and the have nots. The story that is told about the first Thanksgiving in the Northeast is not so much about how much food was shared as it is about who shared food and good will.

    What if the focus in the homes of our parishes shifted from how much was on the table to the tenderness of native populations helping the settler-stranger survive the harshness of the New England winters with the indigenous foods that had sustained them for centuries? Or what if our traditional observances moved beyond a few baskets of Thanksgiving-style food stuffs to helping our neighbors make it through the harshness of winter?

    Back to top.

    Online Resources

    "Virtual Thanksgiving Field Trip" from the Plimouth Plantation (multimedia presentations)

    The First Thanksgiving from

    Thanksgiving Is Some Native Americans' Day of Mourning (CNN article)
    What really happened at the first Thanksgiving? Well, it depends on whom you ask. Indigenous people of the Americas have varying opinions about the meaning of the holiday.

    Back to top.


    BOW- The United Methodist Book of Worship
    CLUW- Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
    MVPC- Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
    SOZ- Songs of Zion
    TFWS- The Faith We Sing
    UMH- The United Methodist Hymnal
    URW- Upper Room Worshipbook
    WSM - Worship & Song, Music Edition
    WSW - Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition

    Joel 2:21-27
    All Creatures of Our God and King
    62 22
    Come, All of You 350
    Come, Ye Thankful People, Come 694 241
    Depth of Mercy! Can There Be 355 273
    Depth of Mercy! Can There Be 3097
    Now Thank We All Our God 102
    Open Our Eyes 2086
    Rain Down 144
    There's a Wideness in God's Mercy 121
    Una Espiga 637 319
    We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessing 131 361
    We, Thy People, Praise Thee 67 72
    Psalm 126 (UMH 847)
    Bless His Holy Name 2015
    Come, Ye Disconsolate, Where'er Ye Languish 510
    Give to the Winds Thy Fears 129 282
    God Has Done Great Things for Us (Psalm 126) 326
    Hail to the Lord's Anointed 203 81
    Joy Comes with the Dawn 2210
    Let's Sing Unto the Lord (Cantemos al Señor) 149 49 67
    O God, Our Help in Ages Past
    117 200
    O Spirit of the Living God 539
    Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart (Marion) 160 130
    Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart (Vineyard Haven) 161
    Shout to the Lord 2074
    The Trees of the Field 2279
    When God First Brought Us Back from Exile (Psalm 126) 325
    When God Restored Our Common Life 2182
    Wondrous God (Psalm 126) 327
    1 Timothy 2:1-7
    Christ Is the World's Light 188
    Come and Find the Quiet Center 2128
    Dona Nobis Pacem 376 360 142 443
    Give Thanks 247 2036
    God of Many Names 105
    Jesus, Name above All Names 2071
    Let There Be Light 440
    Make Me a Channel of Your Peace 2171
    This Is My Song 437
    We Believe in One True God 85
    Matthew 6:25-33
    All My Hope Is Firmly Grounded 132
    All Things Bright and Beautiful 147 63
    Be Still, My Soul 534 307
    Bring Forth the Kingdom 2190
    Cares Chorus 2215
    Children of the Heavenly Father 141 335
    For the Fruits of This Creation 97 193
    Give Thanks 247 2036
    Give to the Winds Thy Fears 129 282
    Give Your Cares to God (Kleinheksel)
    God Be with You till We Meet Again (God Be With You) 672 347 37
    God Be with You till We Meet Again (Randolph) 673
    God Is Good, All the Time 3026
    God Is So Good 2056 231
    God Will Take Care of You (Nunca desmayes) 130 260
    Great Is Thy Faithfulness 140 30 81
    His Eye Is on the Sparrow 2146 33
    How Lovely, Lord, How Lovely 2042
    I Will Trust in the Lord 464 292 14
    If the World from You Withhold 522
    If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee 142
    Leave It There 522 23
    Praise Our God Above 2061
    Rise to Greet the Sun 678 371
    Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God 405 201 136
    Someone Asked the Question 2144
    View the present through the promise 3048
    Wait for the Lord 3049
    Worriers of the world, unite! 58
    You Satisfy the Hungry Heart 629

    Categories: Worship, Lectionary Planning Archive, Year B