Family Worship for Thanksgiving Day
Give Thanks to Our God for His Enduring Faithfulness
Below is an order of worship for private or family worship on Thanksgiving Day. You can use all of the readings and resources for a service of about 30 minutes, or you can choose which readings and resources you'd like to use for a shorter service. If you'd like to do an activity as a family, that allows you to reflect on God's blessings in your lives, you may want to try something like these "Gratitude Turkeys" from Happiness Is Homemade. Depending on your family, you can either incorporate this activity into the order of worship below, or you can do it sometime before your worship time so that these blessings are fresh on everyone's mind as you worship God.
All Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.
Opening Prayer: Psalm 107.1–9
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."
Psalm Reading: Psalm 65
For the choir director: A song. A psalm of David.
What mighty praise, O God,
belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
for you answer our prayers.
All of us must come to you.
Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
you forgive them all.
What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
inside your holy Temple.
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for you have ordered it so.
You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!
Song: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
Old Testament Reading: Habakkuk 3.17–19
"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights."
Song: "It Is Well with My Soul"
Song: "Jesus, Thank You"
New Testament Reading: James 1.17–18, 21–27
"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
Song: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"
Sharing God's Blessings
Thanksgiving begins by recognizing the various ways God has blessed and provided for us, but Thanksgiving is consummated when we share that blessing with others. Discuss with your family a specific way that you can share your blessings with others today. My own local charity of choice is Harvesters Local Food Network. If you're looking for a way to give a Thanksgiving meal (or several!) to families in need, then Harvesters is a great choice.
However, if you're not in the Kansas-Missouri region, even better would be finding a charity local to you that you can trust and making a regular commitment to supporting their efforts to serve your community. Maybe your local church has a benevolence fund or a food pantry to which you can contribute. You can search for local charities here: America's Best Local Charities.
Closing Prayer: Psalm 34
A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away.
I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.