Readalong Service for Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10 2021

Thanksgiving Sunday October 11, 2021

Prelude

Words of welcome, announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle

We light this candle as a sign of God’s Spirit

that is at work in the world.

May we be rooted in God’s love

as we grow to be a blessing

for the healing of the world.

Call To worship

Come, you thankful people come,

Raise the song of harvest home:

All is safely gathered in,

Before the winter storms begin.

God, our Maker, does provide

For our wants to be supplied:

Come to God’s own temple, come,

Raise the song of harvest home.

Prayer of Approach

We thank you, God, with all our hearts,

for your goodness throughout time and history.

We thank you for your goodness now,

for your ongoing creation, and for your never-ending love.

We thank you for all your blessings, great and small, which bring us joy.

We thank you that we can know the joy of giving as well as receiving.

We thank you that we can learn and grow from life’s trials and sufferings.

We thank you for Jesus, whose life, death, and resurrection show us

the way to true and abundant life. Amen.

Hymn 236 Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

who wondrous things has done, in whom his world rejoices;

who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way

with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

2 O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,

with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,

to keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed,

and free us from all ills of this world in the next.

3 All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,

the Son and Spirit blest, who reign in highest heaven

the one eternal God, whom heaven and earth adore;

for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Scriptures: Psalm 126 Matthew 6:25-33

Special Music

Homily “Grounded in Gratitude”

Musical Response

The offering

We thank you for your continued support of our congregation through the gift of your time, your talents and your tithes. Every gift we share is a blessing that helps to make this world a better place. Please contact the church office or our web site for more information about how to make a donation. May God bless every gift you share. Amen.

Hymn 520 We plough the fields and scatter

1 We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land,

but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand.

God sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,

the breezes, and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.

Refrain:

All good gifts around us are sent from heav’n above.

We thank you, God, we thank you, God, for all your love.

2 You only are the Maker of all things near and far.

You paint the wayside flower, you light the evening star.

The winds and waves obey you, by you the birds are fed;

much more to us, your children, you give our daily bread. [Refrain]

3 We thank you, then, Creator, for all things bright and good,

the seed-time, and the harvest, our life, our health, our food.

Accept the gifts we offer for all your love imparts,

and what you most would welcome: our humble, thankful hearts. [Refrain]

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn Bringing In The Sheaves

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Benediction

May a spirit of thanksgiving enhance the joys you experience

as you gather with friends and family.

May a spirit of thanksgiving give you strength

to face the pains you suffer in this life.

May a song of thanksgiving sweeten the duties and chores

you must perform each day.

May the gift of of thanksgiving abide with you as you face every challenge you that comes your way.

In all things, give thanks to our God who is so good,

whose love stands firm forever.

Now may the The love of the Creator,

the peace of the Redeemer,

the fellowship of the Counsellor,

be with you now and always. Amen!

Choral Amen 974 Amen amen amen

Postlude

 

Grounded in Gratitude. Text: Matthew 6:25-33. Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10 2021

By Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church.

The celebration that is Thanksgiving is one of the simplest and happiest of the major holidays we have. It is simple because it is all focused on sharing a meal. There are no gifts to buy. Decorations are not required. It is a happy holiday because it is all focused on being thankful.

The concept of gratitude as we know it developed in Europe. Other cultures have different ideas as to how things should be shared out, and so they have a different response when gifts are given. There are many cultures in the world where gratitude is not a common social virtue. Coming from an Anglo-Saxon culture, the concept of gratitude has been drilled into us since the time we could first talk.

If you want someone to pass you the butter, you are taught to say “Please” and when they do pass you the butter, you are taught to say “Thank you.” It is a pattern we strive to teach our children from a very young age, and some of us are still trying to get our children to learn this lesson. Gratitude is a concept which must be taught. It is not natural, or necessary. To show gratitude is a sign that you are aware of the complex social order we live in.

To say ‘Thank You’ in our culture is on one level simply good manners. It is the social convention we wish to uphold. The Canadian sociologist Margaret Visser wrote a major study on the concept of gratitude. Visser says “ Requirements and rules of etiquette point to saying Thank You as an obligation.” But it is something more. Visser says the ‘Cardinal rule of gratitude remains: no matter how desirable it may be, a truly grateful response cannot be exacted. Gratitude must be freely given, otherwise it might be a polite show, but it is not gratitude.”

As people of faith, gratitude is important to us. The desire to become part of a religious community is a response to the gift we have been given by God. Jesus tells us we don’t need to worry about everything, because all we need has already been provided by God. The decline in gratitude we see in our larger culture is directly tied to the decline in religious participation.

Gratitude is important, because it helps us recognize the nature of the world we live in. It helps us recognize the relationships which shape who we are. About a century ago the German sociologist Georg Simmel claimed that gratitude is what holds all of society together.

At the beginning of this new century, the United Church theologian David Hallman wrote a book called “Spiritual Values for Earth Community.” Hallman’s book looks at how religious values can support ecological renewal. The first virtue on his list of spiritual values this world needs is Gratitude.

The first challenge in practicing gratitude is the fact you have to think of something other, something more than just yourself. All too often, we are very self-absorbed. We often act as if ‘My Self’ is the center of the universe. As a result we fail to see our place in relationship with others and the rest of the world. When we are self-centered, and we are given a gift, we fail to give thanks, simply because we believe we are owed it, or we are entitled to it. We look at a gift as being something which benefits us, instead of realizing it is an expression of the relationship we have with the giver. It is only when we recognize the importance of our relationship with the giver, that we can truly appreciate the meaning of the gift. The meaning of the gift is more important than that which is given.

Everything we have in life can be considered to be a gift. Our family, our health, the quality of the land, the beauty of the world around us. All of these are gifts. We didn’t earn them. We don’t always deserve them. We enjoy the benefits of these good gifts, even if we feel we are unworthy of them. We must first recognize how much of life is a gift, if we are to appreciate it. Thanks giving is a response which expresses our appreciation, our joy, our sense of being blessed by all these good gifts. If you don’t appreciate the gift, you can not truly give thanks.

Another major reason we don’t feel we can give thanks is because we believe we don’t feel happy. The society we live in today teaches that we have to be happy before we can give thanks. We say this church has to be full before we can say this is a good Sunday. We are very good at delaying our own happiness. We have come to believe happiness is the greatest good we can achieve in life. ‘Whatever makes you happy’ has become the driving force in many people’s lives. But what does make us happy? If you ever read a self-help book on how to be successful and happy, they first lay out strategies on how to become rich. But when it comes time to get happy, the best advice they give is to tell you to give some of your new found riches away!

Real happiness comes from the feeling that I do have enough, and I am confident enough about what I have, that I can afford to generously give it away. It is to feel that this world will be enriched when I share all my gifts . And the good news is you don’t need to make a million dollars before you can do this.

This definition of happiness is very different from the idea that I should be walking around with a smile stuck on my face all the time. For we do not always feel joy every day. True happiness is a wholeness, a sense of accomplishment and contentment which is deeper than superficial joy. It lasts, as opposed to those fleeting moments of pleasure. True wholeness can even withstand

the pain and suffering of sickness and death. This is an important quality to have, because our natural tendency is to avoid pain. Our society doesn’t like feeling things like grief or loss.

As Christians, one basic belief we in the church all share is that this life, and this world which God created is good. This life is worth living. It is worth celebrating every step of the way. This is why I think it is important for us to sing “Happy Birthday” in church, and to recognize wedding anniversaries. We only have one chance to live this life. If we don’t take time to appreciate the good things we have experienced in our lives, who will?

This life is a gift. It is a blessing. And all of this wonderful life is given to us by God. So perhaps the greatest challenge for us is to learn how to thank God. In the Bible the first thanksgiving involved the people bringing their produce to the church, thanking God, and then sharing the harvest with their religious leaders, as well as the widows and orphans. They celebrated how God had taken care of them, and in doing so, they took care of each other. By this act of sharing, this act of thanking, and this act of giving, they found true lasting happiness.

The good news is God continues to take care of us here today. God has given each of us many good gifts. They are given as an expression of the extravagantly overflowing power of divine love. God wishes for us to enjoy and appreciate these blessings we call health and family and well being.

It is only when we learn to appreciate the gifts we have been given, and what the act of receiving this gift means in our web of relationships, that we can realize we have enough, that we have all we need. Only then we can feel happy, and be confident enough to give thanks. And when we give thanks, we give, we help God, and we promote the common good all of God’s people.

For all these wondrous gifts, we give our humble thanks. Amen.

 

Sources: Margaret Visser “The gift of Thanks” Harper Collins 2008

David Hallman “Spiritual Values for Earth Community” World Council of Churches Publications 2000.

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