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Thanksgiving Sermon Ideas and Tips for Worship Planning

thanksgiving harvest table

Knowing that many of our visitors are in the midst of Thanksgiving worship planning, we searched our affiliate group sites for great resources and articles for worship and sermon topics. We hope these links to resources will stimulate your own creative thinking and generate fresh Thanksgiving worship ideas this season.

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Thanksgiving Worship Guide “Sometimes worship planners find thanksgiving services easy to plan because they are so focused and their theme is so obvious. Yet they also find that it can be difficult to retain freshness in thanksgiving worship year after year.”

Thanksgiving Resource Guide "Throughout history, worshipping communities have set aside certain times and days as events of special thanksgiving to God. These events are an acknowledgement that God, as creator, is also the provider of all the bounty of life."

Worship Service: 14,000 Things to Be Happy About "The service and the sermon suggestions will both make clear that giving thanks appropriately isn't always so simple and easy. Some of the most familiar of God's blessings are often overlooked.

What Do You Have? Thanksgiving Worship "For a congregation's observance of a national day of Thanksgiving planned around Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 4:7."

Thanksgiving Confession - Unity Christian HS Chapel Service


The African American Lectionary Lectionary

"The distinction between the American national holiday and the African American religious celebration can be described as the nuanced differences between commemoration and culmination. Thanksgiving serves as the dynamic climax of a journey, and not a static commemorative event." The content from past years continues to be relevant to Thanksgiving worship planning in the African American church.

Thanksgiving Service Resources 2013   Sunday, November 24, 2013 or Thursday, November 28, 2013  Guest Writer: Adam Stokes, Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and a member of the Society of Friends.  This resource is a compact unit. This means that it is not a complete commentary of the Scripture(s) selected for this day on the calendar, nor does it have a full, supporting cultural resource unit and worship unit. Instead, to enliven the imagination of preachers and teachers, we have provided a sermonic outline, songs, suggested books, and suggested articles, links, and videos.

Commentary for Thanksgiving Services, 2012 Sunday, November 18, 2012 or Thursday, Novermber 22, 2012. Luke A. Perry, Dean of the Chapel, Duke University, Durham, SC, provided the commentary for this unit. Referend Delesslyn Kennebrew of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, of Memphis provided the cultural material. Sharon Fuller of BOSS Ministries provided the music and worship material.

Music and Worship Resources for Thanksgiving Services Michelle Riley Jones, Lectionary Team Liturgist Worship Planning Notes 

Cultural and Historical Resources for Thanksgiving Services Juan M. Floyd-Thomas, Lectionary Team Cultural Resource Commentator 


Faith and Leadership

Thanksgiving is a Time To Look Back Remembering the past allows us to give thanks for what we have because of the time when we had not, says Edgar Moore.

Excellence Lessons in Thanksgiving Letters   “In 1975, I began a Thanksgiving ritual that has become an important annual practice for me. That year, I began writing letters of gratitude to people who had significantly shaped my life.” By Kenneth L. Carder

Monks, Mushrooms and the Sacramental Nature of Everyday Eating  “Thanksgiving isn’t just a rote exercise over turkey and stuffing one time a year. Truly giving thanks means making the connection between our daily bread and the Bread of Life,” writes Fred Bahnson.


On Being with Krista Tippett

At Table: The Meaning of Communion  “We'll explore two perspectives — Protestant and Catholic — on the origins and the social relevance of Christianity's ritual of thanksgiving by way of a meal.”


Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

Rabbi Lenny Gordon Shows Kids the "Food Stamp Challange" Gordon and a group of teens shop, prepare meals, and eat on a food stamp budget (about $1.40 per person, per meal in 2014) the week before Thanksgiving.

Brother David Steindl-Rast on Gratitude  "So we participate in this tremendous dance in which the gift comes forth from the source and through thanksgiving returns to the source, where the word comes out of the silence and through understanding returns to the silence."


ReligionLink - Religion NewsWriters - Religion News Service

Where Does Thanksgiving Come From, Really? We all remember the story about the Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to share a meal in 1621, but that tale is more legend than fact. Religion News Service offers this take on the holiday's origins.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah converge on “Thanksgivukkah” for the first time since 1888 "It last happened in 1888 and, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for another 77,798 years: the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. This year, Nov. 28 is Thanksgiving and the first full day of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which begins at sundown the previous night."

A Hunger Amid Plenty: The Moral Dilemmas of Farming, Food and Poverty  “Thanksgiving is a time when most Americans celebrate their bounty — and anti-poverty groups remind them how many others still go hungry. But this year the urgency is even greater, and the problems go well beyond a seasonal appeal. Indeed, the land of plenty has plenty of people experiencing hunger, as new reports show.”

The Science of Gratitude "Thanksgiving is one day set aside for giving thanks, but researchers are finding that a daily dose of gratitude promotes health, happiness and social relationships. Researchers are finding that gratitude is a key element of human well-being…. grateful people are optimistic and energetic and deal better with stress and illness. Gratitude, in short, can make you happier.”

Six Story Ideas for Thanksgiving  “At Thanksgiving, volunteers flock to soup kitchens and donate sacks of food for the hungry and homeless. But also lost in the shuffle are Americans who are alone on the holiday. They may be young singles who couldn’t travel to their families, people who are divorced, singles who haven’t developed a social network after a recent move, or older folks without family nearby….”

Bread for the World puts price tag on hunger: $160 billion in health-care



This site has superb resources for Thanksgiving worship services based in the 3-year cycle of the Common Lectionary.

Thanksgiving C 2013

Thanksgiving A 2014

Thanksgiving B 2015



Gratitude Is Good For The Soul And Helps The Heart, Too

Thanksgiving Sermons Religion News Christianity Lilly Foundation Funding Grants Insights into Religion News


A Public Day of Thanksgiving Sermon at St. Luke's Church in Philadelphia


We hope you find these helpful.  Have a joyful Thanksgiving.



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Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - 09:00 am
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