First, a heart-felt thanks to all contributors here. Reading many of these posts and replies has been very helpful in keeping the van moving.
I, too, began hearing a thumping, banging, rattling (choose your sound) in my front end about a year ago.
After reading here, it was clear the first suspect would be the sway bar bushings. I got a gander at them, and were definitely egg-shaped in the hole's appearance, so I thought replacing them would quell the noise. (Incidentally, the noise sounded to me like it was coming from the high driver's side.)
I managed to replace them, the drivers side was a bit of a problem as the backside was difficult to get a tool on. Nevertheless, after replacement, there was no change - still the same noise.
In doing that work, I also saw that my tie-rod ends were pretty loose and squirrely, so I thought that maybe they were contributing. I replace those the following weekend (new ones actually had grease zerks on them, thankfully). The front end felt tighter, like it had when the van was newer, but still the same noise.
At this point, I figured a modest investment in the sway bar end links might help, but I was having a nagging feeling it was strut-related. I had read on this forum about how a worn strut bushing might cause this sort of noise. Since my struts are original, I was leaning that way.
Anyway, I replaced the driver sway bar link first. The lower ball/socket was pretty loose and it had a little ball-to-socket play in it. I drove the van - same noise, which led me to believe replacing the passenger side link, which I intended to do, wouldn't silence the noise.
As I worked on the passenger side, the torx/stud on the upper side would not budge, and I ruined a 40T socket I had bought; it stripped out. I then thought maybe I could drill out the stud at the nut and work it off that way. Forget that. Finally, since the rubber boots were in tatters, I managed to get a set of vice-grips on the back side and managed to break the nut. It came off easy then, and the bottom nut, having been previously 'broken' during the bushing swap was a piece of cake.
In installing the new link, I noticed the studs were now about an inch to long in lining up with the strut mount hole and sway bar. I didn't recall having that problem on the driver's side, but I used a clamp to pull the sway bar down so they'd align better. After getting everything tight, I took it for a spin, but didn't expect there to be a difference.
I was both surprised and relieved when the front end returned to its normal quiet self.
Anyway, thought I'd share my experience.