Several years ago, I had a creative idea for worship on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It happened to be a moment when there was some anxiety in the congregation about members and friends whom we weren’t seeing anymore. And I thought that while Christ the King is the actual holiday- this church family needed an infusion of gratitude, gratitude for their church family in particular- not just felt, but expressed. So we celebrated Thanksgiving rather than Christ’s kingship that year.
And this is what we did- Every worshipper got three colorful thank you note cards in their bulletins.
We read from Phillipians 4:8… about thinking on excellent (pure, pleasing, praiseworthy, etc.) things. And then I explained what I had planned for the day. The main event for the day was the writing (by everyone present) of three thank you notes.
- One note to someone present that day, for whom particular appreciation is felt.
- One note to someone absent that day, for whom appreciation is felt and whose presence is missed.
- One note to God.
Before the note writing, however, three or four verbal thank you notes were offered to prime the pump for the writing of the whole. I gave thanks concretely and directly for a person or people in the community for whom I was feeling particular appreciation that day. Then others stood up and did the same.
After the verbal thank yous were spoken, a mix of music began to plan and everyone was invited to take up pens and write. The mix was 11 minutes long and it included:
Thank you, by Dido- (Wow! What a video!)
Thank you, by Ashanti-
I want to thank you, by the Mighty Clouds of Glory
Not the typical music heard in that sanctuary, but it set a nice tone for the activity.
I encouraged people to seal the notes to church members/friends in envelopes and write the name of their intended recipient on the outside of the envelope and place those notes in the offering plates for addressing and mailing the following day. I encouraged them to keep their note to God as reminder of their gratitude.
And a huge pile of colorful notes made its way back to the church office and were scattered through the community the week of Thanksgiving. It was MARVELOUS.
I repeated the exercise while working as temporary supply in a congregation recovering from a difficult season in their life together. And again… though it was a deviation from the norm in every sense– it worked BEAUTIFULLY.
And so, when I found myself responsible for leading worship in our Emergent service, where everyone sits at table, and is accustomed to contemporary worship— I thought… “It’s time to do it again!” And so we did today. And I wish I had taken some pictures. It worked beautifully once more.
I usually beg, borrow, and steal creative ideas for worship. I am grateful to God for the inspiration to create this exercise several years ago. And to repeat it twice more thus far. I shared this idea back when I first used it. That blog is now locked down and inaccesible. So I’m sharing it again. Perhaps too late for use this year (what with Advent starting the Sunday AFTER Thanksgiving!) But perhaps someone will stumble upon this next November…
(Each time I’ve done this I found the PERFECT cards for it at Target… I’ll be darned if I can find them on-line however… The worship coordinator today found them there too!)