GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace – Thanksgiving 2021

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lessons stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: IT COSTS TO FOLLOW JESUS

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Thanksgiving Sunday:

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace’

© October 10, 2021,  by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on February 8, 2015, October 8, 2017, and October 7, 2018

BLCF Bulletin February 8, 2015

BLCF Bulletin October 8, 2017 

BLCF Bulletin October 7, 2018

BLCF: encouragement truth freedom lies hostage

 

Responsive Reading #613 (from – Isaiah 55); Prayer

Opening Hymn #451: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus; Choruses                          

 Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Handiwork I See 

Golgatha

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.  Before we begin our lesson today, I would like to wish all of you a happy and joyous Thanksgiving Sunday, and briefly share the origins of North America’s first Thanksgiving Celebration, which was celebrated here in Canada:

We find a historical account of the origin of Thanksgiving in Canada on the site, thecanadianencyclopedia.ca:

Origins and History of Thanksgiving in Canada

Indigenous peoples in North America have a history of holding communal feasts in celebration of the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. The Smithsonian Institute has noted that some First Nations “sought to insure a good harvest with dances and rituals.” The European settlers brought with them a similar tradition of harvest celebrations (for which the symbol was the cornucopia or horn of plenty), which dates back to European peasant societies.

The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in Newfoundland. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson, “made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places [sic].”

 In 1606, in an attempt to prevent the kind of scurvy epidemic that had decimated the settlement at Île Ste. Croix in the winter of 1604–05, Samuel de Champlain founded a series of rotating feasts at Port Royal called the Ordre de Bon Temps (“Order of Good Cheer”). Local Mi’kmaq families were also invited. The first feast was held on 14 November 1606 to celebrate the return of Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt from an expedition. Having attended the festivities, Marc Lescarbot remarked that they consisted of “a feast, a discharge of musketry, and as much noise as could be made by some fifty men, joined by a few Indians, whose families served as spectators.”           

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

It should be pointed out that in Canada, Thanksgiving was legislated not just a holiday day, as we see in this description of Thanksgiving, from kidsworld.com, that Parliament correctly applied the designation of Thanksgiving as a day when Canadians are encouraged to give thanks to God:

Official Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31st, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. This year Canadian Thanksgiving is October 9th!

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

Shopeasefoods.com  helps answer the question, “Did Canada invent Thanksgiving?” with the following:

Thanksgiving in Canada originated purely as a harvest festival. On Jan 31, 1957 Canadian parliament proclaimed a day of general thanksgiving to the almighty God for the bountiful harvest Canada has been blessed with and was to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. English Explorer Martin Frobisher hosted the first Thanksgiving held in what is now Newfoundland in 1578 to mark their safe arrival to the new world.

The first American (US) Thanksgiving was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 at the site of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. They thanked God and the Wampano for teaching them how to grow crops that enabled them to have a plentiful harvest in time for winter.

http://www.shopeasefoods.com/blog//did-canada-invent-thanksgiving

BLCF: Grace_And_Glory_Header

Now back to today’s lesson, GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace, which is the title of our message.

To better understand what it is like to walk in the light of GOD’s glory and grace, it might be better to understand when we are not walking in the “light of the Lord”.

In our lives, we have a choice between following two paths: the path of the world or the path of the Lord.

The path we follow is sometimes not directed by our hearts or our minds; but by our eyes. For those of you who drive a vehicle, you are likely aware that where the eyes stray, there is the tendency to steer the vehicle in the same direction. That is why traffic officers try to clear the scene of an accident as quickly as possible, before the so called “rubber neckers” steer their vehicles off the road, after being distracted by the scene of an accident. Until a traffic accident is cleared, the officers will slow the speed of vehicles down to a speed which allows passing drivers enough reaction time to avoid becoming part of another accident scene. Still, some drivers will let their vehicle follow their eyes, and another accident ensues.

Our first Scripture passage, which is: Genesis 3:1-7, describes how Eve and Adam were tempted by the appearance of the forbidden fruit in the garden, seeing the fruit was good for food and a delight to the eyes.

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV): The Fall

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:1 In Hebrew you is plural in verses 1–5 b. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

The visual attraction of the forbidden fruit, gave way to a desire to eat the fruit and become wise. Having eaten of the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve had their eyes opened, and they saw their nakedness and became ashamed. We must give credit or discredit to crafty Satan, who tempted the pair by telling them that the fruit would open their eyes to good and evil, making them like GOD.  Satan was the distraction, appealing to a desire to be wise like GOD, led Eve and Adam, who was with her, away from the righteous path to disobey GOD’s commandment.

The temptation caused by vane desire to be like GOD, and to question HIS authority, led to their downfall. This fall from GOD’s grace, by desiring that which appeals to our vanity and ego, is repeated over and over again, as we see in our next Scripture passage, Matthew 19:16-22, tells of a wealthy young man, who approaches Jesus, and asks the Lord: what good deed must he do in order to obtain eternal life or righteousness with GOD?

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV): The Rich Young Man

BLCF: Christ-rich-young-ruler-hoffmanl

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus then tells the young man to be good he must follow the Ten Commandments given by God, delivered to the people of Israel by Moses. The young man replies to the Lord that he has obeyed all the commandments, asking what else must he do? Jesus tells the young man that in order to be perfect he should sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow the Lord. I believe the Lord discerned that there remained one stumbling block, which was his wealth and possessions, that he valued more than following the path of GOD. The man became sorrowful, as he could not part with his great worldly possessions in exchange for the promise of treasure in heaven.

This is the problem with desiring and then acquiring something that appeals to our vanity that we value above anything else, is the consequence that achieving the object of our desire usually results in shame, as was the case of Adam and Eve, or in sorrow, as happened to the rich young man who sought eternal life.

The Apostle John pointed out this dilemma in 1 John 2:15-17, by admonishing us not to place our love and affection upon things of the world:

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV): Do Not Love the World

BLCF: darkness_vs_light

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 2:16 Or pride in possessions

We see how easy we, like Adam, Eve and the rich young man, can be tempted by the desire for things of the world, which draw us away from GOD’s grace and the promise of eternal life. For the path of the world, which is Satan’s road, leads to sin, our sin, which keeps all of us apart from the light of the Lord, HIS glory and HIS grace.

BLCF: worship-spirit-truth

How,  then, do we discover the way back from a life of sin, and come back to worship GOD in truth and spirit? GOD gave us HIS son, Jesus not just to remove from all of us the judgment of sin, but to be our advocate in heaven. If we decide to abide in Christ and follow the illuminated path, which is the “Way of the Lord”, as we see in 1 John 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ Our Advocate

BLCF: Christ pleads as an advocate for his people_

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

BLCF: new-commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

BLCF: The-Greatest-Commandment

The Apostle John reaffirms Christ’s New Commandment in 1 John 2:1-11: By loving GOD and by keeping HIS word or commandment of loving GOD and loving our brother, is the only way to keep us on the path of light, provide by our Lord, Jesus.

We know that desiring worldly things is to follow the path of darkness, which lead to  sin, shame, sorrow and ultimately to death. The Lord’s path of light is the only way to salvation and eternal life.

In order to discern, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, to help us understand and value not worldly wealth and treasures, but that which is true treasure: His Word and  the path of the Spirit, as described in Paul’s epistle, Ephesians 1:16-21. For what Paul wrote to the church, which are the believers in Ephesus, applies to any body of Christian believers, who see to worship GOD in spirit and truth:

Ephesians 1:16-21 (ESV):

BLCF: Ephesians_1_18

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

I would like to conclude our lesson today, by reading from Psalm 119, verses 33-40, as a prayer for our own faith and understanding. May we seek to turn away from treasures of the world, seeking, instead, to find our heavenly treasure, which is eternal life by way of our Lord Jesus:

Let us pray…

Psalm 119:33-40 (ESV){

BLCF: Psalm119_35

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;     

and I will keep it to the end.[a]

34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law     

and observe it with my whole heart.

35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    

 for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,     

and not to selfish gain!

37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;     

and give me life in your ways.

38 Confirm to your servant your promise,     

that you may be feared.

39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,     

for your rules are good.

40 Behold, I long for your precepts;     

in your righteousness give me life!

AMEN.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 119:33 Or keep it as my reward

at_the_end

Closing Hymn #252: O Soul, Are You Weary and Troubled?                                    

Benediction – Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

BLCF: esa of Avila Blue

Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship’      

© October 7, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 7, 2018

Revisited Message Shared at BLCF on October 8, 2017

BLCF Bulletin October 8, 2017 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                    Opening Hymn #448: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; Choruses                     Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings         Responsive Reading #619: The Waiting Harvest (- from Matthew 9, Romans 10, John 4, Psalm 126)                                                                                               Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                             ‘Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship’       

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service, on this Thanksgiving Sunday.

To begin our lesson today, I would like to ask the congregation what is the definition of “thanksgiving”?

For those who have not already read the definition posted in this morning’s bulletin, you may be surprised to find to that dictionary.com, (as well as other dictionaries), define it as follows:

thanksgiving – noun (dictionary.com)

  1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
  2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.
  3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
  4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
  5. (initial capital letterThanksgiving Day.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/thanksgiving

We find a historical account of the origin of Thanksgiving in Canada on the site, thecanadianencyclopedia.ca:

Origins and History of Thanksgiving in Canada

Indigenous peoples in North America have a history of holding communal feasts in celebration of the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. The Smithsonian Institute has noted that some First Nations “sought to insure a good harvest with dances and rituals.” The European settlers brought with them a similar tradition of harvest celebrations (for which the symbol was the cornucopia or horn of plenty), which dates back to European peasant societies.

The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in Newfoundland. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson, “made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places [sic].”

 In 1606, in an attempt to prevent the kind of scurvy epidemic that had decimated the settlement at Île Ste. Croix in the winter of 1604–05, Samuel de Champlain founded a series of rotating feasts at Port Royal called the Ordre de Bon Temps (“Order of Good Cheer”). Local Mi’kmaq families were also invited. The first feast was held on 14 November 1606 to celebrate the return of Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt from an expedition. Having attended the festivities, Marc Lescarbot remarked that they consisted of “a feast, a discharge of musketry, and as much noise as could be made by some fifty men, joined by a few Indians, whose families served as spectators.”           

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

It should be pointed out that in Canada, Thanksgiving was legislated not just a holiday day, as we see in this description of Thanksgiving, from kidsworld.com, that Parliament correctly applied the designation of Thanksgiving as a day when Canadians are encouraged to give thanks to God:

Official Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31st, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. This year Canadian Thanksgiving is October 9th!

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

Shopeasefoods.com  helps answer the question, “Did Canada invent Thanksgiving?” with the following:

Thanksgiving in Canada originated purely as a harvest festival. On Jan 31, 1957 Canadian parliament proclaimed a day of general thanksgiving to the almighty God for the bountiful harvest Canada has been blessed with and was to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. English Explorer Martin Frobisher hosted the first Thanksgiving held in what is now Newfoundland in 1578 to mark their safe arrival to the new world.

The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 at the site of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. They thanked God and the Wampano for teaching them how to grow crops that enabled them to have a plentiful harvest in time for winter.

http://www.shopeasefoods.com/blog//did-canada-invent-thanksgiving

This brings us to our lesson today, entitled: ‘Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship’, where the definition of watchword is a guiding principle, a word, or phrase expressing a person’s or group’s core aim or belief.

It is interesting to see that Thanksgiving, (or giving thanks to God), is a key component of our faith, salvation, and our worship of the Lord. Let us look at our first Scripture verse, which also just happens to be today’s Benediction – Colossians 3:15-17(ESV):

 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. 16And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In addition to having each verse begin with the conjunction “And”, we are encouraged to be thankful that we have been “called” to Christ, having been gifted with the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to dwell within us to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and to encourage us to worship God, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs –how: with thankfulness in our hearts.

We see that we are exhorted to be thankful for our faith or belief that Jesus died for our sins and promises us life eternal, but we are urged to not just worship God with songs of thanks and gratitude, we are called on  to do everything in word or deed in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Christ.

There are two important reasons why we are encouraged to continuously offer our thanks to God.

The first is gratitude for our faith’s reward from God, which are His grace and blessings, as we read in our next Scripture passage, Psalm 67 (ESV):

Make Your Face Shine Upon Us

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

A Psalm. A Song.

67 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, 
Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. 
Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

The second reason for us to continue to express thanksgiving is giving thanks to God affirms the sincerity of our faith and our gratitude all God’s creation which is sanctified by His word and by prayer. Come judgement day, the Lord will separated true believers from the non-believers, by how we conduct ourselves in our faith practices and our testimony, both must demonstrate a sincere gratitude to God for all that He gives us in reward for our faith, as we read in the Scripture passage from 1 Timothy 4:1-10 (ESV):

Some Will Depart from the Faith

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

If you put these things before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive,[a] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.                                                                                                                               Footnotes: a. Some manuscripts and suffer reproach

This passage comes with the warning that the only way to truly honour the gifts given us from God, including salvation through His Son, Jesus, is to thank Him for that He gives. What God offers us is made holy by His word. (made flesh in Christ Jesus), and can only be received when we acknowledge it by our expression of thanksgiving in our actions and inwardly in our prayers.

 Let us pray…

 Communion: Matthew 26:26-29 (ESV): Institution of the Lord’s Supper

         

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Closing Hymn #526: God of Our Fathers

Benediction – Colossians 3:15-17:

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On January 31st, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

thanksgiving – noun (dictionary.com)
1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.
3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
5. (initial capital letter) Thanksgiving Day.

 

Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship’      

© October 8, 2017, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 8, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                    Opening Hymn #448: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; Choruses                           Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings              Responsive Reading #619: The Waiting Harvest                                                           (- from Matthew 9, Romans 10, John 4, Psalm 126)                                                  Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                  ‘Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship’   

   

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s  Sunday Praise and Worship Service, on this Thanksgiving Sunday. I would like to ask the congregation what is the definition of “thanksgiving”?

For those who have not already read the definition posted in this morning’s bulletin, you may be surprised to find to that dictionary.com, (as well as other dictionaries), define it as follows:

thanksgiving – noun (dictionary.com)

  1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
  2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.
  3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
  4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
  5. (initial capital letterThanksgiving Day.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/thanksgiving

 We find a historical account of the origin of Thanksgiving in Canada on the site, thecanadianencyclopedia.ca:

Origins and History of Thanksgiving in Canada

Indigenous peoples in North America have a history of holding communal feasts in celebration of the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. The Smithsonian Institute has noted that some First Nations “sought to ensure a good harvest with dances and rituals.” The European settlers brought with them a similar tradition of harvest celebrations (for which the symbol was the cornucopia or horn of plenty), which dates back to European peasant societies.

The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in Newfoundland. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson, “made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places [sic].”

 In 1606, in an attempt to prevent the kind of scurvy epidemic that had decimated the settlement at Île Ste. Croix in the winter of 1604–05, Samuel de Champlain founded a series of rotating feasts at Port Royal called the Ordre de Bon Temps (“Order of Good Cheer”). Local Mi’kmaq families were also invited. The first feast was held on 14 November 1606 to celebrate the return of Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt from an expedition. Having attended the festivities, Marc Lescarbot remarked that they consisted of “a feast, a discharge of musketry, and as much noise as could be made by some fifty men, joined by a few Indians, whose families served as spectators.”           

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

It should be pointed out that in Canada, Thanksgiving was legislated not just a holiday day, as we see in this description of Thanksgiving, from kidsworld.com, that Parliament correctly applied the designation of Thanksgiving as a day when Canadians are encouraged to give thanks to God:

Official Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31st, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. This year Canadian Thanksgiving is October 9th!

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

Shopeasefoods.com  helps answer the question, “Did Canada invent Thanksgiving?” with the following:

Thanksgiving in Canada originated purely as a harvest festival. On Jan 31, 1957 Canadian parliament proclaimed a day of general thanksgiving to the almighty God for the bountiful harvest Canada has been blessed with and was to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. English Explorer Martin Frobisher hosted the first Thanksgiving held in what is now Newfoundland in 1578 to mark their safe arrival to the new world.

The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 at the site of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. They thanked God and the Wampano for teaching them how to grow crops that enabled them to have a plentiful harvest in time for winter.

http://www.shopeasefoods.com/blog//did-canada-invent-thanksgiving

This brings us to our lesson today, entitled: ‘Thanksgiving: Watchword of Christian Faith, Salvation, and Worship’, where the definition of watchword is a guiding principle, a word, or phrase expressing a person’s or group’s core aim or belief.

It is interesting to see that Thanksgiving, (or giving thanks to God), is a key component of our faith, salvation, and our worship of the Lord. Let us look at our first Scripture verse, which also just happens to be today’s Benediction – Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. 16And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In addition to having each verse begin with the conjunction “And”, we are encouraged to be thankful that we have been “called” to Christ, having been gifted with the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to dwell within us to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and to encourage us to worship God, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs –how: with thankfulness in our hearts.

We see that we are exhorted to be thankful for our faith or belief that Jesus died for our sins and promises us life eternal, but we are urged to not just worship God with songs of  thanks and gratitude, we are called on  to do everything in word or deed in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Christ.

There are two important reasons why we are encouraged to continuously offer our thanks to God.

The first is gratitude for our faith’s reward from God, which are His grace and blessings, as we read in our next Scripture passage, Psalm 67 (ESV):

 Make Your Face Shine Upon Us

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

67 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, 
Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. 
Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

The second reason for us to continue to express thanksgiving is giving thanks to God affirms the sincerity of our faith and our gratitude all God’s creation which is sanctified by His word and by prayer. Come judgement day, the Lord will separated true believers from the non-believers, by how we conduct ourselves in our faith practices and our testimony, both must demonstrate a sincere gratitude to God for all that He gives us in reward for our faith, as we read in the Scripture passage from 1 Timothy 4:1-10 (ESV):

  Some Will Depart from the Faith

 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

If you put these things before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive,[a] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.                                                                                                   

Footnotes: a. Some manuscripts and suffer reproach

This passage comes with the warning that the only way to truly honour the gifts given us from God, including salvation through His Son, Jesus, is to thank Him for that He gives. What God offers us is made holy by His word. (made flesh in Christ Jesus), and can only be received when we acknowledge it by our expression of thanksgiving in our actions and inwardly in our prayers.

 Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #526: God of Our Fathers

Benediction – Colossians 3:15-17:

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Do You Know the Definition of the Word or Whom Should You Thank Today?

Thanksgiving – noun (dictionary.com)
1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.
3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
5. (initial capital letter) Thanksgiving Day.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/thanksgiving

 

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Doing what Jesus would do!

Doing what Jesus would do!

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’                                             

©October 13, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 13, 2013

 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #606 (Blessings from God – Psalm 103); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #37: Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Thanksgiving Sunday Service. Now how do we reconcile this morning’s service with a Holiday many view as a strictly secular when compared to Christmas or Easter, both which are acknowledged as faith holidays. Does the Bible mention Thanksgiving?  The following scripture is taken from the 12th Book of the New Testament, Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The above scripture is attributed to have been authored by Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, to the church in Colossians, so named for being located within Colossae. Colossae is in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1-3. In Colossians 4:13 there is mention of local brethren in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colosse was approximately 12 miles from Laodicea and 14 miles from Hierapolis. Members of the congregation at Colosse had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including worship of elemental spirits. The Epistle to the Colossians declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding our conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading error in the congregation are opposed. But just we find in Biblical times, as today, some people conduct their worship or faith practices incorporating pagan beliefs. In time the worship ignores and forsakes our Lord. And what is the Lord’s view of such pagan observances?  We read in Nehemiah 9:1-3; 15-17: (ESV):

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day

 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The key part about this scripture is that in spite of their sins, that some refused to obey God’s Laws or even to acknowledge what the Lord had provided for his people, God’s love remained steadfast. That He is a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in spite of our sinful, ungrateful tendencies.

BLCF: Thanksgiving

 

You may have read the cartoon on the back of today’s bulletin, where the child at the table comments “We have so much to be thankful for. One day a year hardly seems adequate” in other words, we should give thanks daily, we read in Colossians 3:17:

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

OK, but what about Canadian Thanksgiving, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer we must look into the origins of this national holiday:

Canadian Thanksgiving from kidzworld.com updated on October 7, 2013:

               Thanksgiving Day

     Harvest Season and the 49th Parallel

The secular view for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. So what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey!

How It All Began

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

BLCF: Early Thanksgiving in Canada

 Official Holiday 

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week.

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

So in a legal sense, thanks to the Canadian Parliament, the current observation of Canadian Thanksgiving is a day in which we give thanks to almighty God for the blessings of the bountiful harvest. The wording of Parliamentary legislation not only acknowledges God, our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

Many in today’s society seems to have found themselves wondering in the wilderness, stiffening their necks to their Lord as had happened in the time of Moses, in Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):                          

 Water from the Rock                       

 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah, [b] because of the quarrelling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

BLCF: Massah and Meribah

It is sad to see that as a reminder of the people’s ungrateful attitude, Moses saw fit to name this spring created by the Lord as Massah and Meribah, which as you see in the footnotes translates as  [a] Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing [b] Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarrelling.

We often find ourselves in a place where instead of counting our blessings, creating a litany of complaints and criticisms.

I remember some years, as a young man, new to the faith, attending a church meeting. The associate Church Pastor had taken great pains to prepare coffee for those in attendance. When offered a cup, I not only said no thank you, saying that “I am all ‘coffeed-out’ and that I should not be drinking so much coffee”, to which several others in attendance acknowledged the same. By adding those remarks, I had made the Pastor’s efforts appear to be something worthy of complaint, instead of just an act of love and kindness to others.

It was only some years later, when I had the opportunity to really understand how we can harm others with our casual comments.

For several years, as President of a local computer club, I also edited the clubs newsletter which consisted of 20 pages, ten months a year. In those days, in the early 1980’s, computer technology lacked high resolution scanners and word recognition software. Since many of the articles we printed came from  printed articles from other clubs with whom we exchanged newsletters, and the newsletters were not in electronic form, we either had to transcribe articles, a difficult task for this two finger typist or photocopy, cut and paste masters copies for the local photocopy shop. Needless to say I chose the latter. Still, the process of producing 20 pages of newsletter, which included a page or two outlining the clubs activities in my own bi-line translated into 8-10 hours of labour effort every month.

You can imagine my feelings when I proudly presented the new issue of the newsletter, which one or two members, instead of acknowledging my hour’s efforts, seemed to take delight in obvious typos or spelling errors. Needless to say, after four years of what seemed to be a thankless job, I decided to step down as president and newsletter editor. But I have a good idea of how that Associate Pastor felt, as after my remarks, he stopped making coffee for our church meetings. Yet, in spite of all our bickering and complaints, God still loves us. He has not given up on us. Now that is something for which we may be thankful.

With a little faith, Moses produced water from a rock, and to be grateful for God’s work, which is for some people, like getting blood from a stone. That is why we all should obey God’s law as described in Matthew 22:36-40(ESV):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So let us demonstrate our gratitude to both our Lord, as well as our neighbours as found both in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, as well as was legislated by our Parliament:

1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (ESV) David’s Song of Thanks

 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!  

 Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!   

Glory in his holy name; et the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered

And finally, as God through Moses provided life by giving water from a stone, Jesus, the rock of our salvation provided spiritual life by his blood. Blood from a stone:

1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV):  4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF: 1Peter 2_4-5

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows

Benediction (Colossians 3:15-17):        

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Blood from a Stone

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

 

 Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Message Shared by Stephen Mickelson with BLCF on Sunday, © October 9, 2011 

BLCF Bulletin October 9, 2011 Bulletin  

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #606r of Prayer, Prayer 

Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride; Choruses

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572:  Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7

Message by Stephen Mickelson: ‘Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’ 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Thanksgiving Sunday Service. Now how do we reconcile this morning’s service with a Holiday many have the view as a strictly secular celebration when compared to Christmas or Easter, both of which are acknowledged as faith holidays. Does the Bible mention Thanksgiving?  The following Scripture is taken from the 12th Book of the New Testament, Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The above scripture is attributed to have been authored by Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, to the church in Colossians, so named for being located within Colossae. Colossae is in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1-3. In Colossians 4:13 there is mention of local brethren in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colosse was approximately 12 miles from Laodicea and 14 miles from Hierapolis. Members of the congregation at Colosse had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including the worship of elemental spirits. The Epistle to the Colossians declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding our conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading terror in the congregation are opposed. But just we find in Biblical times, as today, some people conduct their worship or faith practices incorporating pagan beliefs. In time the worship ignores and forsakes our Lord. And what is the Lord’s view of such pagan observances?  We read in Nehemiah 9:1-3; 15-17: (ESV) The People of Israel Confess Their Sin:

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day

 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The key part about this scripture is that in spite of their sins, that some refused to obey God’s Laws or even to acknowledge what the Lord had provided for his people, God’s love remained steadfast. That He is a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in spite of our sinful, ungrateful tendencies.

You may have read the cartoon on the front cover of today’s bulletin, where the child at the table comments “We have so much to be thankful for. One day a year hardly seems adequate” in other words, we should give thanks daily, we read in Colossians 3:17 –  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

OK, but what about Canadian Thanksgiving, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer, we must look into the origins of this national holiday: (http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving)

The secular view for the reason for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. So what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey.

Historically, the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday.

But the final authority on the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday in October can be traced back to January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. So in a legal sense, the current observation of Canadian Thanksgiving is a day in which we give thanks to Almighty God for the blessings of the bountiful harvest. The wording of Parliament legislation not only acknowledges God, our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

Many in today’s society seem to have found themselves wandering in the wilderness, stiffening their necks to their Lord as had happened in the time of Moses, in Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):                           

                                                             Water from the Rock                                                                    

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah, [b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

It is sad to see that as a reminder of the people’s ungrateful attitude, Moses saw fit to name this spring created by the Lord as Massah and Meribah, which as you see in the footnotes translates as  [a]Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing [b] Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarreling.

We often find ourselves in a place where instead of counting our blessings, creating a litany of complaints and criticisms.

I remember some years, as a young man, new to the faith, attending a church meeting. The associate Church Pastor had taken great pains to prepare coffee for those in attendance. When offered a cup, I not only said no thank you, saying that “I am all ‘coffeed-out’ and that I should not be drinking so much coffee”, to which several others in attendance acknowledged the same. By adding those remarks, I had made the Pastor’s efforts appear to be something worthy of complaint, instead of just an act of love and kindness to others.

It was only some years later when I had the opportunity to really understand how we can harm others with our casual comments.

For several years, as President of a local computer club, I also edited the clubs newsletter which consisted of 20 pages, ten months a year. In those days, computer technology lacked high-resolution scanners and word recognition software. Since many of the articles we printed came from printed articles from other clubs with whom we exchanged newsletters, and the newsletters were not in electronic form, we either had to transcribe articles, a difficult task for this two-finger typist or photocopy, cut and paste masters copies for the local photocopy shop. Needless to say, I chose the latter. Still, the process of producing 20 pages of a newsletter, which included a page or two outlining the clubs activities in my own bi-line translated into 8-10 hours of labour effort every month.

You can imagine my feelings when I proudly presented the new issue of the newsletter, which one or two members, instead of acknowledging my hour’s efforts, seemed to take delight in obvious typos or spelling errors. Needless to say, after four years of what seemed to be a thankless job, I decided to step down as president and newsletter editor. But I have a good idea of how that Associate Pastor felt, as, after my remarks, he stopped making coffee for our church meetings. In spite of all our bickering and complaints, God still loves us. He has not given up on us. Now that is something for which we may be thankful.

With a little faith, Moses produced water from a rock, and to be grateful for God’s work, which is for some people, like getting blood from a stone. That is why we all should obey God’s law as described in Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So let us demonstrate our gratitude to both our Lord, as well as our neighbours as found both in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, as well as was legislated by our Parliament:         

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Let us pray…

Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows   

Benediction – (Colossians 3:15): And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.