A few weeks ago our church celebrated with a thanksgiving meal together, the inspiration span out of a desire to celebrate Harvest in a creative way; but I reckon this could work anytime of the year.
Firstly, we decided to meet at lunchtime instead of our usual 10.30 meeting. For us we felt it important to make a clear statement that this wasn’t replacing our worship for that day but is our worship for the day – worship connected to real life. By eating together we are reminded of God’s provision (and gave thanks), but there is also something important about bringing the ordinary into what is typically viewed as the sacred space (you can do the theology on this one).
Secondly, we saw this as inclusive worship – a visible demonstration that everyone was welcome around this meal table. We linked this notion to communion (using the same bread and juice from the meal table), celebrated at the end of the main meal – but before desserts.
Thirdly, we were aware that our response would naturally lead us to justice and mission: as we remember what we have, so we cannot help think of those who lack. We used material provided by TEARFUND focussing on their ‘Make life flow campaign’. More info, a DVD and response leaflets available online.
Finally we wanted to find out what people were grateful for. So to encourage participation we asked people to create a small ‘art exhibition’. For a few weeks before the event everyone was invited to think about creating something that represents ‘thankfulness’ to them; a photograph, something they’ve made, something grown, something that represents a hobby, family, friendship, an appreciation of creation, health, a picture, a poem etc; and perhaps a short explanation of why? These we put on display as people arrived and viewed after the meal.
I’ve included a crib sheet that our team pulled together to make the event happen. Also included is a running order and some exhibition items.