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Creative Ideas for Celebrating Thanksgiving

  • Share Holy Communion on Thanksgiving Day. Communion is also called Eucharist -- sometimes from the Greek word in the NT eucharisteo, which means "thanksgiving." Holy Communion, in the forms that it is given in The United Methodist Hymnal and The United Methodist Book of Worship, is a festive and celebratory gathering, praising God for God's goodness. Combine Holy Communion with a shared meal following. This enacts the love feast and sacramental meal in a way that is similar to the way the early Christians held Communion. They did not separate eating and "breaking bread" as we generally do now.
  • Look at the index on p. 938 in The United Methodist Hymnal under "Thanksgiving Day."
  • Check in The United Methodist Book of Worship, 416-418 for "Acts of Worship for Thanksgiving Eve, Day, or Sunday." See also 76-77, the "Great Thanksgiving Prayer"for Thanksgiving Evening or Day.
  • Look at the resources in The New Handbook of the Christian Year (available from Cokesbury, 1-800-672-1789) for Thanksgiving. The commentary and introduction will help spark new ideas for what to do.
  • Consider your community. Who is hungry? Who is lonely or alone for the holiday? Could your congregation or some of your people find ways to share the holiday's feasting and plenty? This may help your congregation get beyond boredom to a sense of reconnection with the root meaning of our true religion (see James 1:19-27). Not everyone in the congregation will be able or will want to engage in this kind of sharing and caring, but that does not need to stop those God is prompting to do it.
  • Invite people before the service or during the service to write down or talk in their households what they have experienced as gifts, blessings, or surprises during the last year. Find a way to "offer" these to God during Thanksgiving worship. People could name them at the offering, place them in an offering plate, or bring them to the altar table.
  • Create a visual expression of "thanksgiving" that represents your setting and community. If you live in a farming community, use some of the harvest to express plenty and "the good seed of the land." If you live in a manufacturing community, bring some of products that are useful in meeting human needs into the worship space. This affirms that what we do in daily life is a way we serve God and others; for that, we can be very grateful!

Daniel T. Benedict, Jr., previously served as the director of worship resources for the General Board of Discipleship. He retired in August 2005.

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Events Calendar

April 16, 2014
Safe Sanctuaries for Camps and Retreats – Part One

This is the first of a very important two part series on implementing Safe Sanctuaries abuse prevention policies and procedures within camp and retreat experiences and settings. This training is for local church leaders who do camps and retreats as well as leaders serving at Camp and Retreat Centers. Providing a safe environment for children, youth, and vulnerable adults who participate along with the training of leaders who provide the camps and retreats is a fundamental act of love. This initial webinar highlights key aspects of screening, selection, and preparation in abuse prevention for leaders who provide camp and retreat experiences. A second webinar will be upcoming that covers specific content areas for developing abuse prevention policies and procedures.

Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 11:00 am, Central Daylight Time

Duration: 1 hour
Presenters: Melanie Gordon, Kevin Witt