Sermon and Liturgy for Thanksgiving - Year A
Deuteronomy 8:7-18; Luke 17:11-19
"Thanks Living"

READING:  Deuteronomy 8:7-18;  Luke 17:11-19
SERMON :  "Thanks Living"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-thansn 693000
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC. 

   The following order somewhat different than our usual order.  The
   children will be in attendance during the whole service instead of
   only the beginning portion - and certain of them will be receiving a
   copy of the Bible during the service.   The focus is, of course, on
   "Thanksgiving".  The church is decorated with signs of God's bounty 
   in nature.

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

* HYMN: "Morning Has Broken"                                       - VU 409

L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Enter God's gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  
P    Give thanks to God and bless his name; for the Lord is good.
L    God's steadfast love endures forever.
P    God's faithfulness extends to all generations.

Let us pray:  Gracious God, you who supply your people with every blessing
in abundance, lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving this day. 
Help us, we pray, to thank you for the gifts we seldom notice, to praise
you for the bounty we often take for granted, and to glorify your name for
how you have watched over us through another year of seedtime and of
harvest.  For all that you have done, for all that you are, and for all
that you will ever do, we lift up our voices in praise to you.  Hear our
prayer and our song and help us to live as ones with eternally grateful
hearts - we ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen

* HYMN: "We Praise You, O God"                                      SFGP 59

- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

     (NIV)  Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border
     between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men
     who had leprosy met him.  They stood at a distance  and called out in
     a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" 

     When Jesus saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." 
     And as they went, they were cleansed.  One of them, when he saw he was
     healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at
     Jesus' feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan. 

     Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine? 
     Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this
     foreigner?"  Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made
     you well."

L    This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P    Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

* HYMN: "Now Thank We All Our God"                                 - VU 236

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Giving Thanks"

     We all just heard the story of the 10 lepers who Jesus healed of
     their disease.  One of them turned out to be a very special
     person - can anyone remember why..... (he came back to thank
     Jesus).  He also thanked God.  What did he thank God for?   How
     do you feel when people thank you for things.... or when they

     Today I want us all to take a minute or two and think about what
     we have to thank God for.  Like us, God is pleased when he is
     thanked.  Then we are going to build a sentence that sounds like
     this - "I thank God for - lets say - my house -- because it keeps
     me warm and safe.  What do you thank God for and why?  I'll start
     - I thank God for -- my mother - because she loves me no matter
     what I do and always makes me feel special.

     Now how about you ---
     Let us Pray.... We thank you God - for all those things we have
     named - and those we thought - we thank you God  -- for how you
     love us -- and the  world you made  - we thank you Jesus - for
     how you died and rose for us -- and for how you still care for us
     each day  --  we thank you spirit  - for your wisdom and your 
     joy -- for your peace and your patience -- and for your strength
     and your comfort -- each and every day -- amen

     As we celebrate God's goodness today, Bibles will be presented to the
     following members of our Sunday School who have reached the age of
     nine: .......

     PRESENTATIONS - with the assistance of the Sunday School Convener
     and the teacher of intermediate class and the minister.

     CONCLUDING PRAYER -  Bless, o God, these children and bless their
     reading of your Holy Word - that they may grow wise and strong in the
     ways of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

* HYMN: "Come You Thankful People, Come"                           - VU 516

     (NIV) The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land - a land with
     streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and
     hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees,
     pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be
     scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and
     you can dig copper out of the hills.  When you have eaten and are
     satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given
     you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to
     observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you
     this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build
     fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large
     and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then
     your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God,
     who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  He led you
     through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land,
     with its venomous snakes and scorpions.  He brought you water out of
     hard rock.  He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your
     fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end
     it might go well with you. 

     You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have
     produced this wealth for me."  But remember the Lord your God, for it
     is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his
     covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

L    This is the Word of The Lord
P    Thanks be to God.

HYMN: "We Plough The Fields and Scatter"                           - VU 520

SERMON: "Thanks Living"

     O Lord, we pray, speak in the calming of our minds and in the
     longings of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
     thoughts that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. 
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations
     what he has done ....  Bring an offering and come before him .... 
     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."   
                                                     (- I Chronicles 16:8,29,34)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for
     this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"  
                                                   (- I Thessalonians 5:18)

After you eat and are full, give praise to the Lord your God for the good
     land he gave you.  Make sure that you never forget he Lord or disobey
     his laws and teachings that I am giving you this day. 
                                                   ( - Deuteronomy 8:10-11)

On Monday people all across Canada will celebrate Thanksgiving.  They will
be particularly mindful of the harvest.  Churches will be decorated with
squash and pumpkins, multi-coloured leaves, corn, grapevines and other
produce including jars of all the good stuff like pickles, jams and

Families will get together and sit down to bounteous feasts of turkey with
all the trimmings, with apple cider and pumpkin pie.  We will reward
ourselves - those of us who can - with the bounties and fruits of the
harvest.  We will even remember those less fortunate than ourselves.  We
will hold dinners at shelters and soup kitchens and we will have given a
little extra to the food banks.  And we will be satisfied.

And that's good - but it also might be bad. 

It's good because it is right that we should feast and thank God for what
he has given us, it is right to celebrate and to share the bounty of the
earth and sea, it's good to express appreciation and to rejoice over the
goodness of God.

But it also might be bad - depending on our overall attitude and approach
to life and to what God has done for us and continues doing for us. 

Some of you might remember the old Ma and Pa Kettle television series?

     In a classic scene that was to be found in many of the episodes,
     Ma Kettle would bang the triangle on the porch, and from every
     corner and crevice around the yard hordes of screaming, yelling
     children would pour into the house fighting for a place at the
     table.  Then Ma, in her best stentorian tones would holler, "Hold
     it!" and everyone would freeze in silence.  Pa Kettle would roll
     his eyes heavenward, tip his hat, and say, "Much obliged."   And
     immediately the melee began as abruptly as it had stopped.

God calls us to much better, my friends, than a tip of the hat.

God calls us not only to a day of thanksgiving,
- as he has called his people from the time of Moses
He calls us to a life of thanks-living.

For me, the difference between thanksgiving and thanks-living is between
giving thanks on one day and living thanks always.  Thanksgiving is a
terminal event.  Thanks living is a way of life.

Giving thanks is important.  
When we give thanks as a community, as a family, we are reminded of all the
good things and all the good people that we have been given or gifted with. 
We remember that we have been blessed, we remember that there is a greater
good than ourselves - if only for a moment or a day.  

But the temptation is to then return to our self-sufficiency, to forget
God, to say to ourselves - "my strength and my ability have gotten me thus
far in life" - and then to yearn for more, and to expect it as if it were
our right and our privilege.

We see it in our children.  
They are ever so grateful, momentarily, when we've gifted them.  
But how quickly they forget their thankfulness.  

Are we so different than our children?  

Don't we always want more or better or newer or stronger?  
That's the impression one can get watching the TV ads.  
We fill our lives with things only to find out that there is no filling.

This is where thanks-living comes into the picture.  We begin to "live
thanks" when we open our lives up to God and give God the first place.  

As we do this - as we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that he
is the source of good things, our awareness of our blessings increases, our
joy becomes fuller, and we find ourselves in an attitude and state of

Like Abraham and Sarah, we discover we have been blessed to be a blessing. 
Our continual thankfulness for our blessings will turn into a lifetime of
living thanks, of living the blessings and sharing the blessings because we
know in the deepest parts of our hearts that God is the giver of it all.

In our church each Sunday morning we say together the following
commissioning.  It has become more and more meaningful for me as each year

We say    "In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into the world
          to fulfill our calling as the people of God, the Body of Christ." 

 It would be a very short step to add, "blessed to be a blessing, and
living in thanks for the life we have received."  

As you give thanks this Thanksgiving Day, remember your calling to be
joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all
circumstances.  It is what God wants of you and for you.  In it you will
find the fullness of what God has in store for you.

Blessed be God's name, day by day.  Amen

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE  AND THE LORD'S PRAYER (Rx: And in your love, answer)
O Lord, maker of all things, you open your hand and satisfy the desire of
every living creature.  We thank you for crowning the fields with your
blessings and helping us once more to gather in the fruits of the earth....
Lord hear our prayer...
Loving God, you provide for our needs from the abundance of your grace. 
You fill your people with good things.  We thank you God for the food we
eat, for the home we have, for the family we belong to, for the church we
are a part of, and for the community that we live in  Lord, help us
remember all our blessings and to praise you for them all....   Lord, hear
our prayer....

Redeeming and loving God, you give us much.  Help us to give as you give
and to share as you share; to give joy and hope to those have sadness and
despair; to give food and drink to those who hunger and thirst; to give
justice and mercy to those who cry out for both; and to give truth to those
who have been deceived and love to those who are lost....  Lord hear our

Father, we pray that we might always live thanks and so bring praise and
glory to your name through Jesus Christ our Lord - he who taught us to pray
to you saying...

     Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
     come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us
     this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we
     forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into
     temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom,
     the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

     Many years ago a group of farmers decided to eat their best
     potatoes and to only plant the small ones. They kept up this
     practice for many years, even though they noticed the potatoes
     getting smaller and smaller. They blamed the weather and the
     beetles and the blight. They kept it up until all of their
     potatoes were reduced to the size of large marbles. The farmers
     learned through bitter experience that they could not keep the
     best things of life for themselves and use the leftovers for
     seed. The laws of life and nature decreed that the harvest would
     reflect the planting. 

     Today as you make your offering - I would remind you that we are
     receiving special thanks giving offerings - to meet the needs of
     the church whose operating budget is in a deficit situation  and
     the needs of the world around us (World Food Grains Bank and the
     Mission & Service Fund).

* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of

     Most gracious and giving God, maker and redeemer, lord of life
     and of death -- your generous goodness comes to us new each day. 
     We thank you.  By the work of your Holy Spirit help us to always
     acknowledge your goodness, to give thanks for your benefits, and
     to serve you with joy in willing obedience through your Son,
     Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN: "How Great Thou Art"                             - VU 238

* COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
     into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body
     of Christ.
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ 
- and may God lead you in righteousness and bestow upon you the spirit of
thanks living, that you may please in him word and in deed all the days of
your life and know the joy that he brings to humble hearts, 
both now and forevermore.  Amen

* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2002 - 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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