Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
A Season of Saints 2017: THANKSGIVING OF THE SAINTS
During these two middle “green weeks” of November, consider adding white or gold accents to your basic color palette to highlight this whole month as a Season of Saints. The final Sunday of November and this church year is Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (November 26), and the colors then, as today, are white or gold.
In This Series
This is the first time our Sunday planning resources have provided any extensive coverage related to Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Indeed, we are not even linking to the regular Sunday readings, but rather the readings for Thanksgiving Day (US and Canada) developed by the Consultation on Common Texts (which I currently chair) and listed in our Book of Worship. So if you were wondering why this text appears today, rather than something from Judges, I Thessalonians, or Matthew, that’s why!
We’re in week three of our Season of Saints series. Week three in a four-week series can generally do one of two things well. It can either “go deeper” into the theme developed in week two (as we saw in our “deep dive” second series after Pentecost, “The Apostle’s Tale”), or it can push us a bit “higher” in energy and enthusiasm as we move toward the conclusion in part four the following week. This service could go either way, but in the logic of this series, it may be better suited to going “higher.” So prepare to amp up the praise and thanksgiving today!
Visual Environment: Ask yourselves in your planning team what a typical (rather than ideal) Thanksgiving may look like for your congregation and community. Then be strategic about bringing in some of the visual cues that reflect that. What this may look like in your particular context may be very different from any other congregation, so listen to one another well, and choose appropriately.
As you do this, however, since Holy Communion should be celebrated as part of this service (the theme and the sermon notes beg for it!), let the Lord’s Table be the Lord’s Table, and not a harvest display that would overwhelm or distract from the ground of our thanksgiving in the body and blood of Christ.
Entrance Music: Your opening song set should be full of songs of thanksgiving your congregation knows well and loves to sing. On the more contemporary side, think about “10000 Reasons” (CCLI #6016351), “Give Thanks” (TFWS 2036, CCLI #20285), and “Thank You Lord” (Moen and Baloche CCLI #4220833, or the black spiritual arrangement of “Thank You, Lord” in UMH 84 and SOZ 228). On the more “traditional” side, if you began this series with a song medley including “Now Thank We All Our God” (UMH 102), start by singing all verses, followed perhaps by “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” (UMH 694) and concluding with either “Mountains Are All Aglow” (UMH 86) or “Thank You, Lord” (UMH 84), sung several times at a slow, intimate pace to settle the opening set into a time of prayerfulness for the Prayer of Illumination.
Then move straight into the Scripture reading for the day and the sermon, remembering to provide plenty of time for the response to the Word and Holy Communion. Today’s response to the word may move directly into the Prayers of the People, continuing the form you have used, including the naming of church members who have died in the past year. Today, plan to conclude it with an additional time of thanksgiving. This may be freeform (allow people time to share something they’re grateful for, followed by a congregational response of “Thank you, Lord,” said or sung), or guided by a litany of thanksgiving, such as the one found in the Book of Common Prayer, 837.
Communion: Great Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving Day or for the Gift of Food (BOW 76-77)
Music During Communion: “Sing of the Lord’s Goodness” (W&S 3010, or via OneLicense.net) in 5/4 time fits the theme and is both challenging and fun, especially if your accompanist can add in a bit of Dave Brubeck’s famous “Take 5” (which works as a companion piece with this quite well).
Hymn of Sending: “We Gather Together” (UMH 131) combines the “feel” of traditional American Thanksgiving with a description of God as maintaining the kingdom and leading us to freedom that both matches the “thanksgiving of the saints” today and leads into the theme of Christ the King Sunday next week. As John Wesley would put it, if you do this one, “Sing lustily, and with a good courage!” On the more contemporary side, a reprise of “Give Thanks” or “10000 Reasons” may hit the spot.
Additional Resources for this Service
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines