A Family Thanksgiving Devotion

By Pastor Maggie Novak (2016)

It is often awkward doing devotions during extended family/friends holiday gatherings. Although Thanksgiving may be the most acceptable time to do this, going around the table to say what you are thankful for may still may elicit nervous, halfhearted responses. If you are game, I’d like to suggest trying something different this year.

A cornucopia is a horn-shaped basket often filled with produce that symbolizes everything God has provided for us in the past year, from basic necessities to extravagant delights. (Jane Lee and Margaret Anderson recently created a large, beautiful one for our Sanctuary).

You may not have a cornucopia with you on Thanksgiving, but chances are you have all the ingredients on hand to make what I call a “Blessing Bowl.”

Invite your guests (or hosts) to write down blessings from the past year before you sit down to eat and place in an empty bowl. During the meal, everyone will take turns drawing out and reading aloud the blessings. It may even spark some wonderful conversation!

Below are some more specific instructions, and you can adapt this idea however you want. The most important thing is to truly contemplate the different ways we are blessed by God, and not have anyone put on the spot.   

Blessing Bowl Family Devotion

What you will need:

  • Several empty containers (suggestions below)
  • Paper to write questions on
  • Blank pieces of paper for your guests to fill out
  • Pens or pencils

Choose some of the following questions and place by a bag/box/container that best symbolizes it. Feel free to modify and adapt based on what you can find or if you think of a better container.

  • What food are you thankful for? (Grocery bag, Tupperware, serving dish, etc.)
  • What basic necessities are you thankful for? (Target/Walgreens/Walmart bag)
  • What are you thankful for concerning health or well being? (Kleenex box, First aid kit)
  • What are you thankful for concerning your leisure, entertainment or play time? (Board game box, movie popcorn bucket)
  • What are you thankful for in nature? (plant pot, vase)
  • Where have you gone this past year (figuratively or concretely) that you have appreciated? (Backpack, suitcase, travel bag)
  • Who are people in your life that bring you great joy? (Gift bag or gift box)


  1. Set these empty containers out on a table with paper and pencils in front of each container and place the questions in front of each container.
  2. Ask friends and family to look at each container and think of something that goes inside it that you have used or experienced this past year. Write down the item or event on a piece of paper and put it in the appropriate container.
  3. Be sure to write clearly so others will be able to read it. Sometime during our meal time we will each take a turn drawing a few of these slips from a blessing bowel and reading the messages on them out loud.
  4. Right before dinner empty the contents of each container into a large bowl.
  5. Begin by reading Psalm 105:1-2 out loud:
    O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
    make known his deeds among the peoples.
    Sing to him, sing praises to him
    tell of all his wonderful works.
  6. During the meal, go around the table and have each person read a few of the thankfulness slips out loud.
  7. End this time with a simple prayer:
    Thank you God, for all the blessings you have given us this year and throughout all of our lives. Bless our food and our time together, Amen.

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