Native American Service of Thanksgiving

This liturgy was originally celebrated at United Church of Rosendale (RCA) in Bloomington, New York.

A Liturgy for Thanksgiving Eve

HONORING SONG                        Cloudbreaker Society

The smudging ceremony is likened to a prayer of confession, as we purify our minds and hearts before we partake of our Lord's Supper. (Reach out for the smoke and draw it into your heart.)

Spirit of God, present in the East, the direction of the rising sun, we greet You and seek peace and light, wisdom and knowledge. You bring us the hope of a new day, hope that we can live in harmony with one another and with the whole community of life.

Spirit of the East, awaken in us new hopes, new dreams; invigorate us to reach out and grasp the miracles that are given birth with each new dawn. may we not continue to live in darkness. We are grateful for these gifts, Creator God.

Spirit of God, present in the South, whence comes warmth, maturity, and growth, we greet You. We ask for the spirit of growth, of fertility, of gentleness. Give us seeds and rain that the flowers, trees, and fruits of the earth may grow. These are gifts offered to us from You, Creator God.

Spirit of the South, thaw and soften the coldness of our world. Draw us by the urgings of your warm breath to break through the soil of our own barrenness and fears. Give us the warmth of happy families and good friendships. We are grateful for Your gifts of food, Creator God.

Spirit of God, present in the West, home of the rain, purifying waters that sustain all living things, we greet You. We turn to You in praise of sunsets and in thanksgiving for the change of seasons. You give us a time to rest and recall with gladness all that has happened each day.

We greet you, Spirit of the West, for you cool our hot and tired bodies; refresh and bring laughter to our hearts. Guide us at the end of each day that, filled with your peace, we might rest securely in your great mystery of night until morning calls us forth again.

Spirit of God, present in the North, the place of cold and mighty winds, the white snows, teaching us strength and endurance, we greet You.

Teach us, Spirit of the North, in the solitude of winter, to wait in darkness with the sleeping earth, believing that we, like the earth, already hold within ourselves the seeds of new life. Help us to be faithful when the struggles of life are hard.

We greet You, Creator God, present in the heavens above where we receive darkness and light. You breathe into our nostrils the breath of life. You send us melody in the skies through Your winged creatures. The moon and stars influence the seasons of life, thereby insuring a balance harmony of all You have created.

We are grateful for these gifts, Creator God.

We greet You, Spirit God of the Earth. It is from You we came, as from a mother; You nourish us still and give us shelter.

For all the plant life and animal life, for nourishment provided for us by Mother Earth, we are grateful, Creator God. Teach us to use with care your gifts.

May we walk good paths, living on this earth as brothers and sisters should; rejoicing in one another's blessing, living in harmony with all of Your creation and together with You, Creator God, always renewing the face of the earth. Amen.

HYMN                                     "Come, Ye Thankful People Come"

Come, ye thankful people come, raise the song of harvest home:
all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field, fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away, 
giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast; 
but the fruitful ears to store in the garner ever more.

SCRIPTURE LESSON                                      Psalm 65

HYMN                                                           "All Creatures of Our Spirit God"
Sung to the tune of "All Creatures of Our God and King"

All creatures of our Spirit God
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
O praise ye! Alleluia!
O Brother Sun with golden beam,
O Sister Moon with silver gleam!
O praise ye! O praise ye!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

O Brother Wind, Air, Clouds, and Rain,
By which all creatures you sustain,
O praise ye! Alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise ye! O praise ye!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

O Sister Water, flowing clear,
Make music for thy God to hear,
O praise ye! Alleluia!
O Brother Fire who lights the night,
Providing warmth, enhancing sight.
O praise ye! O praise ye!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!



Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise God all people here below! Alleluia, Alleluia!
Praise God, the source of all our gifts!
Praise Jesus Christ, whose power uplifts!
Praise the Spirit, Holy Spirit!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


This litany of thanksgiving is adapted from the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band Green Corn Ceremony. The service was adapted by United Methodist pastor and Native American storyteller Olammapise ("He Talks as He Flies") Fred A. Shaw. The Green Corn Ceremony celebrates the beneficence of the Creator in giving people the four-leggeds and the winged ones along with the sacred gifts of corn, beans, and squash. The ceremony reestablishes the harmony of life and renews all life and relationships. Like many traditions that have come to the church from its diverse peoples, this service may be used as another dimension in the experience of the living Christ.

A Native American person shall respond for the people that which is written in italics, while the congregation responds that which is in boldface.


A way has been prepared for us, a proper way to walk in life.

Response: If we walk in that way, there is a softness.
If we follow another path, there are stones and thorns.

People: We thank you, O God, that you have prepared a way, in all generations, leading to the truth and life in Christ Jesus.

(The leaders move clockwise--the natural movement of the sun--throughout the ceremony to explain the symbols.)

(The leader picks up the container of earth and offers it to the co-leader, who takes a pinch of the earth and places it in a small bag worn for that purpose.)

The Maker has formed us from the substance of the earth.

Response: We are related to the earth as we are to our mothers.
Held in her arms, we owe love and respect.
We have come from the earth.
We shall return to the earth. We will always be home.
We will carry this bit of earth to remember that
We always walk on sacred ground.

People: We thank you, God, that you created the earth and declared it good. You told Moses that he walked on holy ground. Your Son, Jesus, called the earth his home. We thank you that we need not be strangers to the earth.

(The leader offers meat, cornbread, and strawberries and says):

Open your mouth!
Here is meat, the four-legged and the winged one's gift.
Here is bread from the sacred green ones.
Here are strawberries for the joy of life.

Response: We honor these gifts.
they feed us with their flesh.
They teach us that life means sharing.
Thankfulness will not die in our hearts, 
lest our children starve.

People: We thank you, God, for our animal relatives who protect us from dying of loneliness and nurture us by their flesh. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness with the elements. He learned from them of trust and love. Jesus said, "Consider the lilies of the field." We thank you for the green blessings that give us the strength of the sun, clean the air we breathe, and comfort us in whispering shade. We thank you for these joys.

(The leader takes water, offers it, and says):

Now we are thirsty. Here is cold water.

Response: When we truly have need, it will be given to us.

People: We thank you, God, for the life-filled veins of the earth that refresh us, cleanse us, and sacramentally claim us as your own.

(Making a cross on the forehead of the co-leader with green paint, a traditional color in this ceremony, the leader says):

You are painted as a true human being, a mark of belonging.

Response: The Creator has made us to be a people.
Our lives are held by our true family.
This is who we know ourselves to be.

People: We thank you, God, that you have adopted us as your sons and daughters and joined us together as a family through your Son, Jesus.

(The leader sprinkles ashes on the shoulders of the co-leader and says):

We have not always lived life well.
There is a deadness, like the ashes, sprinkled upon us.

Response: We have thought more of ourselves than of others.
There is waste.
We have taken more than we have given.
There is destruction.
We are covered with the ashes of our past.

People: We thank you, O God, that we can dare to be honest about who we have been.

(The leader takes a feather, brushes off the ashes, and says):

This feather brushes away the ashes.
This carrier of prayer lifts you to new life.

Response: We are held in the arms of the earth and our family.
We are in the eyes of the Maker, who gave us breath.
These arms and the Maker's breath
brush away all that is dead and wasted.
We are new, fresh as the smell of cedar.

People: We thank you, God, that Jesus prayed for us, "Father, forgive them."

In the circle we name the good gifts of God's creation.

Response: We thank God for each of them.
We discover the Creator in their midst.

People: We pray, O God, that by working with your Spirit we may witness healing where the circle of life has been broken.

(The leader lifts an ear of corn and a container of maple syrup. The co-leader dips a corn chip into syrup and eats, and the leader says):

Here is a gift of life, an ear of corn.
Here is the sweetness of life, the sugar of the maple.
Celebrate the feast of living.

Response: It is good.
We now go out to be life-givers in the circle.

People: As do we, remembering Jesus' words, "I have come that you may have life abundantly." We thank you, God! Amen.

SPECIAL MUSIC                                            Delaware Healing/Blessing Song

(The drum is a perfect representation of the Circle of Life, like the heartbeat of the earth or the Spirit in the center of all life. It embodies the heartbeat of the body of Christ.)


Meaning of the Sacrament
Words of Institution
Communion (fry bread will be used as the Bread of Life)
Lord's Prayer

HYMN                                                             "For the Beauty of the Earth"

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour, of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind's delight,
For the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise,
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

BENEDICTION (in unison)

Creator God, each of us is like an unfinished sunset, radiating our own special kind of light on things, beautiful yet always becoming and waiting to be appreciated. Help us, O Spirit, to be a source of love for one another so that radiant beams may be seen amongst us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

(All are invited to take part in this Round Dance Friendship Song, in which participants can see one another, respect one another, and join in fellowship. Participants form a circle on the perimeter of the church and join in the dance.)

RECESSIONAL                                                              Last Scout Song