CALL & RESPONSE:
ONE: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. ALL: God's love is everlasting.
ONE: Come, let us praise God joyfully.
ALL: Let us come before God with Thanksgiving.
PRAYER & LORD'S PRAYER:
Gracious God, who supplies us with every blessing in abundance, lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving. Open us to remember the gifts we seldom notice, the bounty we take for granted, the rich possibilities You provide. For bread without scarcity, for water that is pure, for houses to live in and family and friends to enjoy, we give You humble thanks. For beauty and bounty, for healing and hope, for the power of Your Word, we lift our voices in joyful praise.
Gathering all of our prayers and praise into one, let us pray as Jesus taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
DRAMA MOMENT: Problems
1 . I hate my life! Nothing is going right. I went to a half dozen different stores today and couldn't find a decent pair of shoes. Then my car ran out of gas. And when I pulled out my cell phone, the battery was dead. So, I went into the convenience store on the corner, but the cashier wouldn't give me change for a twenty.
2. (enters, carrying a box full of letters) Here's your mail.
1. My mail? That's all MY mail?
1. There must be a thousand letters in there. (examines a few) Hey! They've all got my name on them.
2. Yes. I said it's your mail.
I . What's going on? I don't get this much mail in a whole year.
2. I ran an ad on the internet.
1. The internet? You ran an ad and I get mail?
2. Yes. The ad read: "My roommate is one of the most ungrateful people I know. She has more problems than any three people I know. Would any of you like to have her problems?" And then I listed your problems.
1. So, what are the letters for?
2. These are people who would like to have your problems.
1. I don't get it.
2. Read one of the letters. (pulls letter from box)
1. (opens & reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have your problem of not being able to find new shoes. My family and I have no money. So we're all barefoot. We would love to be able to wear your old shoes. (looks at envelope) Who is this from'? Bangladesh?! Is this for real?
2. Yes. Here, read another.
1. (Opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have your problem of not being able to find new shoes. My feet were amputated. (looks at envelope) This is really gross!
2. Isn't it amazing how many people would love to have the problem of not being able to find new shoes? Here, read another.
1. (opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have the problem of running out of gas occasionally. Our nation is in civil war. Our village hasn't had any gasoline for many months. (looks at envelope) These letters are from all over the world.
2. Yes. Here, read another.
1. (opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have the problem of running out of gas. I am an itinerant missionary. I travel 30 miles between villages on foot. I would be grateful to have a car to make these trips, even if I ran out of gas occasionally. (looks at envelope) This is for real, isn't it?
2. Yes, it sure is. Here, read another one.
I. Do I have to?
2. Yes. It'll be good for you.
1. (opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have your problem of not having change for a twenty dollar bill. I have been out of work for 3 months, and my family is starving. Twenty dollars would put food on my table for a week. (looks at envelope) Alright, you've made your point. I'm an ungrateful slob. God has blessed my life incredibly compared to these people. Compared to them, I have nothing to complain about. I never really thought of it before, but the world would love to have my problems.
2. Good for you. (exiting) Say, you got change for a twenty? 1. (follows) Very funny!
The Offertory Prayer:
Everything is a gift from God, even the smallest things, and it's the sum of these gifts that make life beautiful or sad, depending on how we use them. Amen.
Norm and Rob are going to entertain us with an imaginary
conversation between God, the Creator, and Saint Francis of Assisi. Listen carefully, for it may give you some food for thought.
THE CREATOR & ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
This is an imaginary conversation between God and St. Francis of Assisi. May it give us food for thought.
Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in south western Quebec? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of song birds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing the grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn..
The spring rains and cool weather probably make the grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it — sometimes twice a week.
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags. They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
No, Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it and pay to throw it away?
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
You aren't going to believe this, Lord, but when the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get ride of it.
What nonsense! At least they kept some of the old trees. That was a shear stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form a compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away.
No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?
After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
And where do they get this mulch? They cut down trees and grind them up.
Unbelievable! Say no more. I've heard enough! I may have to rethink the whole concept of free will before these Suburbanites destroy the earth.
They seem to have forgotten that it all started with a garden. I can't help feeling disappointed that people have forgotten that in nature, everything is connected. Tweak one strand of the web of life, and the entire web trembles. Break a strand, and the web begins to collapse.
HYMN: As Those Of Old Their First Fruits Brought
AS THOSE OF OLD THEIR FIRST-FRUITS BROUGHT
As those of old their first-fruits brought of vineyard, flock and field
To God, the giver of all good, the source of bounteous yield,
So we today our first-fruits bring, the wealth of this good land,
Of farm and market, shop and home, of mind and heart and hand.
A world in need now summons us to labour, love and give,
To make our life an offering to God, that all may live,
The church of Christ is calling us to make the dream come true,
A world redeemed, by Christ like love, all life in Christ made new.
With gratitude and humble trust we bring our best to you,
Not just to serve your cause, but share your love with neighbours too,
0 God, who gave yourself to us in Jesus Christ, your Son,
Help us to give ourselves each day until life's work is done.
MEDITATION: "Giving Thanks To God"
GIVING THANKS TO GOD
Turkeys, cornucopias, squash and potatoes. Seasoned stuffing hot from the oven. Creamed onions, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Uncles and aunts and cousins to play with. Grandmothers and grandfathers with family gathered round. Children waiting for the great pumpkin to rise over Charlie Brown's pumpkin patch. A day to relax and maybe rake some leaves in the afternoon. Is this all there is to Thanksgiving Day?
We all know that Thanksgiving has a special meaning, yet we often forget to acknowledge that meaning. It's harvest time. I have here an apple. Isn't it a beautiful apple? What colour! Who mixed the paints, who handled the brush to give such colour to this apple? God did. In his infinite love and wisdom, He has provided, through the unfailing laws of nature, for the growth, sweetness, colouring and beautifying of all the products in the fields. This apple is but one of many kinds of produce.
Praise, then, is the great meaning of thanksgiving. God, our heavenly Father, sends us every good gift. From His bountiful hand come our daily and nightly mercies. Psalm 150, verse 6: "Let everything that bath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord."
The origin of Thanksgiving in Canada is very closely connected to the traditions of Europe. As a matter of fact, the very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada, when Martin Frobisher, an explorer, landed in Newfoundland in 1578. He held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his safe arrival in the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Mass.
At the same time, French explorers arrived in Canada with Samuel de Champlain, and they also held feasts of thanks. They even formed the Order of Good Cheer and shared their feast with their Indian neighbours.
For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November. During the American Revolution, those who remained loyal to England moved to Canada and brought with them the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving, like the cornucopia and pumpkin pie. The date of Thanksgiving was not officially established in Canada until 1957. On January 31st Parliament declared: "A day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed is to be observed on the second Monday in October."
Thanksgiving for Canadians is about giving thanks for the harvest season. An attitude of grateful mind and spirit enables each one of us to appreciate fully the heritage and abundance of our country. We associate Thanksgiving Day with the time of harvest. Harvest festivals were being held hundreds of years in Europe before the first settlers arrived here in Canada.
Unfortunately, we tend to look at this day as just another holiday, a day off work, a long weekend. We have lost sight of its original purpose. Just think of the gratitude those early farmers, who worked from dawn to dusk, must have felt when the land gave up its produce.
There is a meaningful Thanksgiving custom that my Maritime family members follow. Five kernels of corn are always placed next to each setting on the dinner table, symbols of the first crops grown in this country. This part of my family were Loyalists and came to Canada just before the American Revolution. They carried with them the custom introduced by the Pilgrim settlers in America. The legend is that when the first Pilgrim settlers were in their new land, the winter was very harsh and cold. There was very little food and the people were starving.
To make the food last throughout that harsh winter they were allotted 5 kernels of corn for each day. These people had a great deal of faith and they trusted that God would bring them safely though that cold and terrible winter. When spring came, the settlers had enough corn left over to plant a small a crop. God blessed them with a beautiful summer filled with plenty of rain and sunshine. The kernels of corn grew, the harvest was great, and there was plenty for everyone. The settlers and the Native Americans who helped them, celebrated with a thanksgiving feast. Beside each plate, someone had placed five kernels of corn to remind everyone of the blessing that came from their sacrifice. And that is the story of how my family celebrates this tradition. Before the turkey is carved, each person at the table relates one thing for which he or she is grateful. Then, a family member recites the Five Kernel Prayer:
Five kernels of corn on an empty plate
Reminding us of our forefather's kin
Whose hunger was so very great
That death might have become a friend.
0 Great Creator of the earth itself
You have given bounteous harvest from seed
Grant that we not so much stock our shelf
As share your abundance with those in need.
When we all sit down to tables stacked
With food of every sort and name
Before mouth and stomach are packed
May we remember from whence it came. Amen
This old custom makes the dinner more of a spiritual feast than a material one. Just as the settlers were rewarded for their sacrifice, those who sacrifice for the Lord will be greatly blessed.
We should treat each and every day as if it were Thanksgiving Day. Time should be spent in re-examination and review of our life. There should be time to pray, thanking God for all His blessings and His loving care. We should include in our thankfulness our family and friends. Every day we should be thankful for this great nation we live in. We need to
remember to give thanks for the birds singing outside, for all the beautiful flowers growing in our garden and in the wild, and for ALL the blessings that surround us each day.
Every hour, every minute of every day, God spreads His all-protecting arms around us like a soft blanket, shielding us from all things that could cause us harm. God's blessings to us are innumerable. Daily, moment by moment, we receive physical and spiritual blessings. As the hymn tells us; "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what God has done." We often forget to thank Him for the joy of all that we have. An unknown author wrote: "Let us be thankful that there is still sunshine, that we still can glimpse the blue of the sky and in our outward way, continue to look up. Let us be thankful for friends with a kindly smile and cheerful words. This is a time for grateful thanksgiving." These are words which should guide us every day.
I'd like to share with you the story of St. Cuthbert's Eagle. St. Cuthbert was a saint of the early Northumbrian church in the Celtic tradition, and is regarded as the patron saint of Northern England. The good saint left his monastery one day to preach to the poor. He took a young lad with him as his only attendant. Together they walked along the dusty way. The heat of the noonday sun beat upon their heads, and fatigue overcame them.
Saint Cuthbert asked the lad if he knew anyone along the road where they might get some food and a place to rest. The boy answered that he knew of no-one and pointed out that they had no provisions. Saint Cuthbert said they would have to have trust in the Lord, for God would never allow those who believe in Him to perish of hunger. Then, looking up and seeing an eagle he said, "Do you see the eagle flying over there? It is possible for God to feed us by means of this bird."
They came to a river, and there, standing on the bank, was the eagle. Saint Cuthbert told the lad to run and sec what provision God had made by the bird. The lad ran and found a good-sized fish that the eagle had just caught and he brought the fish to St. Cuthbert. "What have you done?" he exclaimed, "Why have you not given a part to God's eagle? Cut the fish in two pieces, and give her one, as her service well deserves." The lad did as he was told, and the eagle, taking her half of the fish in her beak, flew away. Then entering a neighbouring village, Saint Cuthbert gave the other half to a peasant to cook, and while the lad and the villagers feasted, the good saint preached the Word of God.
We can accept the blessings and gifts from God, but after we get what we wanted, don't forget to thank Him. After all, it's only three little words: Thank you God!
We should give thanks for our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Without them, we would not be born; without being born, we could not be re-born and have the everlasting joy of eternal life with God. Our parents loved and cared for us after we were born every day of our lives, until we reach adulthood. Because of them, we were able to become children of God. We should thank God for our children and grand-children and the children of our extended families. We should than God for food and clothing, medicine and housing. All our temporal needs are met by God.
We must thank God for the incarnation of Jesus Christ — for His life, death and resurrection. Above all, we must thank God for the gift of faith, the ability to put our entire trust in. Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. We must thank God for justification. '['he Father has declared that we are justified on the basis of the righteousness of Christ charged to us. We must thank God for the forgiveness of all our sins. In the words of Psalm 107, "0 give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! Let them thank the Lord for Ills steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men!"
Thanksgiving is a profoundly Christian holiday in that it focuses on God as the true source of all our blessings. As the hymn writer, Cecil Frances Alexander, wrote; "All thins bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all." You know, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who dwell on what they want; and those who dwell on what they have. At this time of Thanksgiving, as we count our blessings and name them one by one, let's join the ranks of those who dwell on what they have, and so glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Let us pray: Our Father in heaven, we give thanks for the pleasure of gathering together on this Thanksgiving Sunday. We give thanks for the meal we are about to receive Today or tomorrow, or have already enjoyed yesterday, meals prepared by loving hands. We thank You for the freedom to enjoy it all and all the other blessings we have. We pray for health and strength to carry on and try to live as You would have us live. We thank You for this day and all our blessings. We give You thanks, eternal, loving God, through. Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
HYMN: #425 We Praise You, 0 God
RING YE BELLS OF JOY AND PRAISE
Ring ye bells of joy and praise;
Ring throughout the harvest days;
Ring across the golden fields,
Praise where earth her bounty yields.
Food from labour, rest from toil;
Wondrous mystery of the soil!
Beauty from the cloven mould;
Broken sod to living gold.
Ours the homage; thine the gift;
`Mid thy bounty we uplift
Hearts for beauty thou hest given,
L.ord of earth and Lord of heaven.
BENEDICTION: May thanksgiving be more than a special day, but may it be for us a way of life. Help us to live our lives with ever grateful and humble hearts. Let us go in peace, to love and serve God. Thanks be to God.
"God is glorified, not by our groans, but by our Thanksgivings."
- Edwin Percy Whipple