Worship Series on Gratitude
We’re going out on a limb here. The Worship Team at Discipleship Ministries remains committed to providing resources for lectionary worship on a regular basis. We will continue to do so as we move toward Advent of Year B in a few weeks. But as we were planning for the end of Year A, we believe that we were led by the Spirit to do something a little different for these last three weeks. So, we are temporarily stepping away from the lectionary to provide a short worship series on “Gratitude.”
While we are aware that many churches run a stewardship campaign in the fall, this series is not intended to be about the pledge card. Rather, this is a reflection on the spiritual attribute of living a life of thankfulness. Our commitment to giving, however, is certainly tied up with gratitude, and you are welcome to use these resources to craft your campaign if you choose. And if you have already completed your stewardship emphasis, you can bookmark this series and come back to it next year. We suggest, on the other hand, that you let this be a support to your year-round emphasis on giving and gratitude and let it stand on its own as one of the marks of the disciple. Here in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving Day in the USA, we wanted to give an opportunity to worship teams to extend that celebration beyond a single day or week and explore what a life of gratitude might look like.
We also understand that there are those pastors and worship teams committed to a faithful following of the lectionary. If that is the case, here are links to the lectionary texts for the past two Year A cycles. Even if you have used them before, they could be a refresher for your congregation:
If you are inclined, however, give this a try. We also hope to provide more non-lectionary or theme-based worship series in the months ahead. So, keep an eye out for those. In the meantime, we invite you to explore “Our Hymn of Grateful Praise.”
Three weeks before the end of the liturgical year, and we turn to gratitude as the guiding theme for worship. What does a life of gratitude look like? Or perhaps more importantly, what does it feel like? When we invite others to join us as we are being made into disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, we are looking to live a life of service and joy. We are being invited to consider our common humanity, our shared experience of living in a world that has heartache and struggle, but also profound joy and satisfaction that is deep and true and binding of heart to heart. And it all grows out of an awareness of the interconnectedness of life, which opens us up to living in gratitude. That’s what we celebrate this week as we worship.
Our gratitude begins with God, of course. So, sing our songs of praise and thanksgiving – enter the gates with thanksgiving. Let our worship begin and end in our acknowledgment of the God who provides and who is present always. But let us also give thanks for the church, the family with whom we worship; let us be bound together in singing and praying and mutual love and support.
Whom should the worship team identify to thank during worship for these three weeks? What workers have been ignored or forgotten? Whom does no one know about and yet worship wouldn’t happen without them? Or mission and ministry wouldn’t happen without them? Who looks after the children? Who cleans the building? We want to express our gratitude in real ways to real people. Let’s make a list.
But like everything we do in the church, we cannot be only inward looking. Whom can we identify in our community that we need to thank in a public way? What servants, what workers, and what segment of your population can you point out for giving thanks. True, we are almost two weeks from Thanksgiving, but our hope is that we could expand that observance and begin this week by reflecting on how we live thankfully every day of our lives.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.