Thanksgiving Confession - Unity Christian HS Chapel Service
A high school chapel service plan for Thanksgiving with links to an interview about how this chapel was received.
Theme of the Service
Led by Sharon Veltema, Unity Christian High School
This morning, we have several members of our Spiritual Leadership Committee sitting here on stage, and we would like to share with you something that we did together as a group. We would like you to join us this morning as we worship by re-enacting an activity that we participated in together.
About a month ago, we started talking about Thanksgiving. First of all, we decided that it would be a good idea to have our three chapels the week of Thanksgiving focus on thankfulness. So we started out by talking about how we can say to God, "Thank you." We started out by talking about those things for which we were thankful. It was amazing how many things we could think of when we sat down and started listing them. And the list we put together was far from complete.
Our list was varied. We had some pretty major things that we were thankful for, and we had some small things that seemed insignificant, but we were still very thankful for these things. Our discussion went something like this:
(Mrs. Veltema walks over and sits with the group)
Let's go around the table and mention one thing that you are thankful for. It can be anything at all. Just something that makes you really thankful to God.
(Students from the Spiritual Leadership Team each take time reading from the items below. Some explain why they are thankful for the listed item.)
Spiritual Leadership Committee:
I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful for fall.
I'm thankful for my car. I'm thankful for trees.
I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my brother.
I'm thankful for my sister. I'm thankful for my church.
I'm thankful for my job. I'm thankful for sports.
I'm thankful for music I'm thankful for my mom.
I'm thankful for my girlfriend. I'm thankful for my bed.
I'm thankful for my grandparents. I'm thankful for ice cream.
I'm thankful for cappuccino. I'm thankful for warm showers.
I'm thankful my niece is healthy. I'm thankful for pictures to share.
I'm thankful for the SLC. I'm thankful for friends.
I'm thankful for books. I'm thankful for shampoo & conditioner.
I'm thankful for donuts. I'm thankful for good health.
I'm thankful for chocolate. I'm thankful for missionaries.
I'm thankful for puppies. I'm thankful for heat.
Then we did something together as a group that we are going to do now - and I would like to invite you to join us in this. We spent time together in confession.
Confession - it's not really a popular word. And maybe we don't think about it very much. We also don't spend a lot of time here in chapel confessing. But confession is a part of worship - and it is a very important part of worship. With that in mind, I would like to lead you in a time of prayer and confession. So please join us as we spend time in confession.
Solo: "O Lord, You're Beautiful"
I would like to ask you to join me in a prayer of confession, and as you do so, I would like to invite you to simply hold your hands open on your laps - like this. (palms up) This shows that we are open to God and what he has to show us in this prayer. There also may be some things that we are holding onto. Perhaps we are holding on to our pride, to our worries, to thinking we can do it all by ourselves. By holding open our hands, we are opening up ourselves to God. During the prayer I will also instruct you to hold your hands palms down, and then at the end, palms back up again. I invite you to follow along with this as we pray.
We come to you this morning knowing that there are many things that we hold onto in our lives.
We hold our hands open to you this morning, acknowledging that we need to turn everything in our lives over to you. Lord, we offer ourselves to you as living sacrifices. We bring all that we are to you - our successes, our failures, our hopes and our fears, our past, our present, and our future. We do this as an act of worship.
We come before you this morning knowing that by our own efforts we are not worthy of your love. We know that we have sinned. And so this morning we lay our hands with our palms down, (pause) as a symbol that we surrender all of these things into your arms of grace. We know that we are like little children at times - always wanting more, sometimes complaining or whining, never satisfied. Father, we are sorry.
Even on our very best days, when all that we do and say is in accordance with your word, we know that we are still stained by sin. And yet you love us. It is beyond our imagination how much you love each one of us.
Lord, you also know that as a society, we are sinful. We live in a world that promotes violence, impurity, murder, and hatred. Our televisions are full of examples that go directly against your will for us. Sometimes our leaders go directly against your will. As a nation, we have forgotten you. Forgive us as a society for the sins that we commit. Forgive us for forgetting you.
Lord, listen to us this morning as each one of us silently confesses to you our sins and asks for your forgiveness. (pause)
And now Lord, we place our hands with our palms up again. (pause) We thank you for your incredible grace and forgiveness that you give so freely. We hold our hands open to receive your forgiveness. We thank you for filling us with your love so that we can share it with those around us. Thank you for making us right with you - for your purifying love, that enables us to call your Father. We open our hands to you to receive everything that your grace will give us - strength for our weaknesses, hope for our fears, forgiveness from our sins, and grace to forgive those who sin against us. Bless the world through us today.
In your name we pray,
Solo: "Refiner's Fire (Purify My Heart)"
After we spent time in confession, we again went around the table and shared what we were thankful for. I told everyone in our group that this time we were focusing on things that we were thankful for that were not tangible - in other words, something you are thankful for that you can't necessarily touch or see. Our conversation went something like this.
Spiritual Leadership Team:
I'm thankful that God accepts me as I am.
I'm thankful that God has a plan for us and he reveals it to us at the right time.
I'm thankful that God loves me when I'm not very lovable.
I'm thankful that God is constant when everything in life changes.
I'm thankful that God is in control.
I'm thankful for weaknesses - and that our weaknesses are not all the same so that we can help each other.
I'm thankful for gifts and abilities.
I'm thankful that God forgives AND forgets.
I'm thankful that God gives us true happiness and joy - not empty happiness like with worldly things.
I'm thankful that Jesus was willing to suffer for me
I'm thankful that God understands my inadequacies
I'm thankful that I have eternal life
I'm thankful that God made me exactly as I am
I'm thankful that God is helping me because more like Jesus
I'm thankful that God gives me the Holy Spirit
I'm thankful for God's incredible grace
We realized together, that our thankfulness goes much deeper and means so much more when we first spend time in confession. Because it is when we confess our sin that we recognize the incredible sacrifice God made for us, and our thankfulness comes from hearts overflowing with God's goodness.
All the things that we have mentioned this morning are good - and we should be thankful for all of them, including all the things on our first list. It is good to be thankful for material things that God has blessed us with. But when you remember all the material things that God has blessed you with, make you sure look deeper - and make sure you give thanks for the things that have eternal significance in your life. We would like to challenge you some time this week to take a piece of paper and write down all God's blessings that you are thankful for. Fill a page - I'm sure you can! Include things in your list that may seem trivial, like little things that make your life better. And remember to include the things that God gives, and that you can only appreciate when you have the knowledge that God has given you incredible gifts - like eternal life, reassurance, faithfulness, steadfastness, the love of a perfect Father, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, look over that list from time to time. Pray with that list in front of you. Give thanks to God!
(All SLC members get up and move to the mikes to sing the last song)
One SLC Member reads:
Taken from 1 Chronicles 16:
Give thanks to the Lord; call on his name,
Make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him,
Tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name,
Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
He is the Lord our God,
He remembers his covenant forever.
Sing to the Lord, all the earth,
Proclaim his salvation day after day.
For great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.
Give thanks to God, for He is good.
His love endures forever.
We would like to ask you to join us as we sing, "Forever"
Blessing: Go in peace and in thankfulness, to love and serve the Lord.