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Thanksgiving Sermon Ideas and Tips for Worship Planning

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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

  Because corporate worship is a conversation with God, we expect, and are expected, to give a response to what God has said and done. This study uses passages from Exodus & Revelation to explore the types of responses called for, both corporately and personally; then invites study participants to reflect on the ways their congregation encourages and models responding to God, with an eye to strengthening their corporate practices. Geared to the worship leader or leadership team.

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.”

Creating Tables of Our Own by Broderick Greer  "Whether the exclusion is rooted in racism, sexism, white supremacy, transantagonism, heterosexism, or some other form of boundary-drawing, we often assume that if someone is excluded from our table, they aren’t eating at all."

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly (PBS)

Thanksgivukkah - “If Thanksgivukkah can be a spark that allows us to bring a little bit of the Hanukkah light into a Jewish person’s Thanksgiving table, then that’s a gift.” Watch more of our interview about the rare convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah with Rabbi David Paskin at Kehillah Schechter Academy in Norwood, Massachusetts.

Thanksgiving at Churches - "Fewer churches were offering Thanksgiving dinner. Bishop Craig Hall, the pastor, thinking I had come to service looking for a turkey, offered me money to buy one."
The Thanksgiving Challenge: Learning About Hunger: Rabbi Lenny Gordon and his synagogue’s teenage students engaged in learning to shop for Thanksgiving as though limited to a food stamp budget. The challenge extended the synagogue’s participation in stocking local food pantries by further educating participants about what it means to leave a meal without being sated and how the prophetic tradition informs contemporary human needs. In a short video prepared for Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly, a source for cutting-edge coverage and analysis of events in the religious world, Gordon discusses the hunger project and its impact on youth participants. 

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….”

Grateful without God: A Secular Thanksgiving  This week, millions of Americans will pause before diving into the turkey, stuffing and gravy to give thanks to God for the bounty on their table. But many of the nonreligious will also include a moment of thanks, as “secular grace” grows in popularity among atheists, humanists, agnostics, freethinkers and other so-called “nones.”

On Thanksgiving, Jews and Muslims volunteer together despite Middle East violence


Center for Congregations

Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner  Nov 19, 2017 303 North Alabama Street, Suite 100 Indianapolis, IN 46204


U.S. Congregational Life Survey


Fuller Studio Thanksgiving Films


ON Scripture Features for Thanksgiving

Jesus, Poor People And The Underside Of Thanksgiving, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Billy Honor with a focus on Matthew 25: 31-46 (Nov 23, 2014) On Scripture Video. 
The Death Of Thanksgiving, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Henry G. Brinton with a focus on Colossians 1:11-20 (Nov 24, 2013) On Scripture Video.
It's Time Again: Depression And The Holidays, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Barabra Lundblad with a focus on Isaiah 64:1-9 (Nov 30, 2014) On Scripture Video.

Except This Foreigner, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Eric D. Barreto with a focus on Luke 17:11-19 (Oct 09, 2016) On Scripture Video.

Pope Francis: Holy Humility In Community, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Carolyn J. Sharp with a focus on Luke 18:9-14 (Oct 27, 2013) On Scripture Video.


2017 Textweek

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

Thanksgiving C 2016

Thanksgiving A 2017

Thanksgiving B 2015


Spokane Favs

In the Name of Thanksgiving, Count Your Blessings

2012 Interfaith Thanksgiving Service


Sing To The Lord Of Harvest: A Hymn Festival For Thanksgiving: This combined service was planned by Kevin Bylsma of the Campus Chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and by Charlotte Larsen of the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church. The hymns in this service were selected from the most recent editions of the following hymnals: Gather (GA), Fresh Sounds (FS), The Presbyterian Hymnal (PH), Psalm Praise (PP), Psalter Hymnal (PsH), Rejoice in the Lord (RL), and the Trinity Hymnal (TH).  


ALTA Cooperative Digital

Thanksgiving Day Sermons Andover-Harvard Library Cambridge, MA,  5/1/2004
Thanksgiving Day Sermons preached on, or regarding Thanksgiving Day.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

An Evening Thanksgiving  Accept, we beseech Thee, our evening thanksgiving, O Thou Fountain of all good, who hast led us in safety through the length of the day; Who daily blessest us with so many temporal mercies, and hast given us the hope of resurrection to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thanksgiving Hymns from the Hymnary


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




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