CALL & RESPONSE :
One: Dear Lord we come before you on this day to praise your name.
All: Like Moses, You have called us each by name.
One: We come to praise you through prayer, song and act.
All: We wish to know You as you know us O Lord.
One: Although we cannot see You, we know You are there.
All: It is through Your call to us that we know You
One: It is through the beauty is this world we can understand You
All: You have called us here today to be one with You and one with each other.
One: O God we are your people and your children.
All: Call us to be of one mind and one spirit with You on this day
“I Have Called You by Your Name…”
George W. Bush, in an airport lobby, noticed a man in a long flowing white robe with a long white beard and flowing white hair. The man had a staff in one hand and some stone tablets under the other arm. George W. approached the man and inquired, "Aren't you Moses?" The man ignored George W. and stared at the ceiling. George W. positioned himself more directly in the man's view and asked again, "Aren't you Moses?" The man continued to peruse the ceiling. George W. tugged at the man's sleeve and asked once again, "Aren't you Moses?" The man finally responded in an irritated voice, "Yes I am." George W. asked him why he was so uppity, and the man replied, "The last time I spoke to a Bush I had to spend forty years in the desert." Names are very important to how we define ourselves in addition to how we relate with each other. Everybody has a name whether they like it or not. Even if it is just a last name that they are known by, they still have one. It could still be that Thompson boy, the Smith’s daughter but it is still a title. This would certainly have been the case in the ancient world as well. However, if someone knew your name in the ancient world it could be said that it was a source of pride and honor. Because someone didn’t know your name unless you had done something great, built a theatre, aqueduct or were some world renowned artist like Michaelangelo. The point is that if someone knew your name, they definitely knew you or knew of you. Especially in the ancient world. Email didn’t exist, there wasn’t Facebook, and a trip into town could take several hours or even days depending on where you lived. Therefore, if someone knew your name, you had done something to allow your name to stick in their mind. OR, they were so inspired or taken by you that they saw it fit to commit your name, and essentially who you are to memory.
Because we are all known by names. When someone says your name there is baggage that goes with it. I mean to say that my name isn’t just eric. It’s Eric Pagé. Furthermore, it’s not just that either, it’s the son of Michael and Barbara Page, brother of Stephanie and Patrick, classmate of Thomas and Jesse, history major, student at the United Theological College and a candidate for ministry. For better or for worse, our name defines us.
I don’t know if anyone is familiar with the website “Urban dictionary”. It is a website on the internet where you can type a word into the search bar and it will give you a definition of that word. However, it’s not a proper definition, it’s more of a bizarre and hip way that a given word can be defined. For example, if you type my name into that site what comes up for me is “A masculine name from the Old Norse name Eiríkr, derived from ei "ever" and ríkr "ruler". Danish invaders first brought the name to England. A famous bearer was Eiríkr inn Rauda (Eric the Red), a 10th-century navigator and explorer who discovered Greenland. This was also the name of kings of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.” And of course there are more definitions of the name but you get the point. Someone’s name is more than a title, a name carries someone’s entire history with them, their entire being. And as I mentioned earlier this was especially true in the ancient world. Knowing someone’s name, and therefore arguably knowing who they ARE implies that you were in some form of relationship with them. Maybe friend, coworker, admirer, cousin or student. My understanding of that idea in the ancient world was that there was a definition relationship if you knew someone’s name AND could call them by it. I think that this relationship is stronger when you can call someone by their name, but what is more important is when they can recgonize that and in turn call you by your name. So in that way it becomes much like a family, there is a special bond, a special relationship there.
In the Exodus narrative that we heard today we are again shown what Moses’ relationship was with God and with the Israelites that had been led out of Egypt. Moses had a discussion with God through prayer and asked that He go with them, that his presence go with them as they continued to journey through the wilderness. God responds, by saying that he will because Moses has found favor in his sight and that he knows his (that is Moses’) name. This seemed a little bizarre to me. Not the discussion, but an alleged reason of why God was going to be with Moses and the Israelites was because Moses had pleased the Lord in some way and that he knows his name? I mean, doesn’t God know everyone’s name? And shouldn’t there be more people who have found favor in God’s sight? I supposed that we could answer yes to all of the questions I just asked. But as bizarre as this conversation may be I think that we can understand the aforementioned situation in Exodus. Moses had been chosen by God, and has been a phenomenal leader for the Israelites. In addition, he has also been the mouthpiece of God, he has secured the Israelites more or less safe passage and through Moses the Hebrews have found assurance, forgiveness and mercy. It is Moses’ honesty, his righteousness and him being a heck of a good guy that God has smiled on him and showed him and his people favor. And as for the 2nd part of God’s statement, that he knows Moses’ name. We think now, well yeah man, of course he knew Moses’ name, He is God after all…. And I would say yes of course, millions of people on the earth and he still knows Moses name. He knows him through what Moses has done AND because of his potential of who he could be. Moses wasn’t just an Israelite. He was Moses, leader, prophet and friend of God. And I truly think that was amazing. God was able to call Moses by his name. He didn`t give him a pet name, or call him Israelite, boy or stinky. He called him Moses. And by calling him Moses he implies that he knows who Moses, from his mind to the depths of his heart.
And it is of course through this intimate relationship that God has with Moses that Moses is then able to ask for God to reveal himself, to show Moses who the deity truly is. And God agrees. This is truly phenomenal. A human sort of calls out God and he responds positively!! And Moses in this passage is allowed to see God`s back. He is not allowed to see his face because the ancients believed that one would be burnt up because one couldn`t handle the divine perfection of such a being. So God shields Moses so he doesn’t get burnt to a crisp, and then, as a cherry on top proclaims himself as Yahweh. Not as Lord, or King, but a more personal name. Now Moses has seen God and he knows his name. The relationship that started at the beginning of Exodus may have seemed one sided but it is clear now that both parties are on equal footing. They have intimate knowledge of each other and therefore are in a relationship.
I believe that this is encouragement to get to know people, get to know each other, and to better understand ourselves. I think that this passage can be said to be asking us to go further with members of our community. To not be afraid to ask tough questions, to not be afraid to ask for help and to not be intimidated into not sharing how you truly feel. Moses, a mere mortal had the courage to ask God to reveal to him who God truly was. And he did. So what is stopping us for asking others to be more forthright, to maybe come and try out church? Or even asking the IGA or Super C to donate goods for Christmas baskets or what have you. A quick sidebar, but a relevant one: I recently had teacher, Professor Kirkpatrick. From day one I truly was petrified of her. I was worried about getting questions wrong in class or ultimately not passing the class. Anyways I ended up doing quite well in that course, so I somehow mustered up the courage if she would write a reference letter to a scholarship committee and she agreed. What’s more, it was an amazing letter, she pulled me aside after class and called me a responsible young man. Now I know this isn’t the same as getting God to reveal itself. But the sentiment I believe is the same. I got to know Professor Kirkpatrick and I have truly benefitted from that class and from the experience and teaching that she gave. But ultimately I had to make that first step, and we all should try and make the first steps. We aren’t mind readers, and neither are our neighbors. Get to know names in your community, get to know the humans in our lives.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians we are again reminded of God’s relationship with us, His chosen people. As much as we are His chosen people, we have chosen Him as well. We were not forced or brainwashed to be Christians, it is something that comes from our hearts, from knowing ourselves. We choose to be in relationship with God. Not Zeus, Ares, or Mars. But with God. And we can rest assured that we do so because we have been given the Gospels so that we may come closer to God and know him. And I do truly believe with all my heart that God has intimate knowledge of each and every one of us. And of course it is because we have this relationship with the Divine that Paul writes that the Thessalonians have become imitators of him and of Christ. It is something that feels natural so we do it, we worship God the father, the son and the holy spirit. But it is not only because we believe we know God that we imitate him, it was in the acnietn world, and it is now a sign of respect, devotion and love that imitation occurs. In early modernity it was considered respectful and honorable to copy (or plagiarize) someone elses works because it showed you respected them.
I once worked at a scout camp in Rawdon, Quebec. There was a week where I was wearing a cape, acting goofy and spending a lot of time with the kids. And there was a kid from Mount Bruno who literally began copying everything I did. He wore the same color socks, and wore a cape just like mine. He even started ordering the same type of food from the snack bar. This was without a doubt one of the most touchijng experiences of my life to date. I had a few days with the kid and he wanted to model himself after me. To this die it gives me a warm sensation, it warms my heart and it almost brings a tear to my eye that we can have these effects on people. That we can become role models. And it was through this Scouter knowing me that he saw it fit to imitate me, to mimick me.
But, this is almost exactly what we do as Christians isn’t it We model ourselves and our lives after the life of Jesus Christ. And it is out of the deepest love, admiration and respect that we do this. We know Christ because he lives in us and we live in Him. It is for this reason that the apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians and his other communities worshipped a living and true God. Because God can be seen as living up there in the sky, OR, we can accept the fact that God lives in each and every one of us, and this is why we call ourselves Christians…
The Reverend Francis Norton woke up Sunday morning and, realizing it was an exceptionally beautiful and sunny early spring day, decided he just had to play golf. So, he told the Associate Pastor that he was feeling sick and convinced him to say Mass for him that day. As soon as the Associate Pastor left the room, Father Norton headed out of town to a golf course about forty miles away. This way he knew he wouldn't accidentally meet anyone he knew from his parish. Setting up on the first tee, he was alone. After all, it was Sunday morning and everyone else was in church!At about this time, Saint Peter leaned over to the Lord while looking down from the heavens and exclaimed, "You're not going to let him get away with this, are you?" The Lord sighed, and said, "No, I guess not."
Just then Father Norton hit the ball and it shot straight towards the pin, dropping just short of it, rolled up and fell into the hole. IT WAS A 420-YARD HOLE IN ONE! St. Peter was astonished. He looked at the Lord and asked, "Why did you let him do that?" The Lord smiled and replied, "Who's he going to tell?"
Brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to God whom we have come to know through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
CALL & RESPONSE:
ONE: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. ALL: God's love is everlasting.
ONE: Come, let us praise God joyfully.
ALL: Let us come before God with Thanksgiving.
PRAYER & LORD'S PRAYER:
Gracious God, who supplies us with every blessing in abundance, lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving. Open us to remember the gifts we seldom notice, the bounty we take for granted, the rich possibilities You provide. For bread without scarcity, for water that is pure, for houses to live in and family and friends to enjoy, we give You humble thanks. For beauty and bounty, for healing and hope, for the power of Your Word, we lift our voices in joyful praise.
Gathering all of our prayers and praise into one, let us pray as Jesus taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
DRAMA MOMENT: Problems
1 . I hate my life! Nothing is going right. I went to a half dozen different stores today and couldn't find a decent pair of shoes. Then my car ran out of gas. And when I pulled out my cell phone, the battery was dead. So, I went into the convenience store on the corner, but the cashier wouldn't give me change for a twenty.
2. (enters, carrying a box full of letters) Here's your mail.
1. My mail? That's all MY mail?
1. There must be a thousand letters in there. (examines a few) Hey! They've all got my name on them.
2. Yes. I said it's your mail.
I . What's going on? I don't get this much mail in a whole year.
2. I ran an ad on the internet.
1. The internet? You ran an ad and I get mail?
2. Yes. The ad read: "My roommate is one of the most ungrateful people I know. She has more problems than any three people I know. Would any of you like to have her problems?" And then I listed your problems.
1. So, what are the letters for?
2. These are people who would like to have your problems.
1. I don't get it.
2. Read one of the letters. (pulls letter from box)
1. (opens & reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have your problem of not being able to find new shoes. My family and I have no money. So we're all barefoot. We would love to be able to wear your old shoes. (looks at envelope) Who is this from'? Bangladesh?! Is this for real?
2. Yes. Here, read another.
1. (Opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have your problem of not being able to find new shoes. My feet were amputated. (looks at envelope) This is really gross!
2. Isn't it amazing how many people would love to have the problem of not being able to find new shoes? Here, read another.
1. (opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have the problem of running out of gas occasionally. Our nation is in civil war. Our village hasn't had any gasoline for many months. (looks at envelope) These letters are from all over the world.
2. Yes. Here, read another.
1. (opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have the problem of running out of gas. I am an itinerant missionary. I travel 30 miles between villages on foot. I would be grateful to have a car to make these trips, even if I ran out of gas occasionally. (looks at envelope) This is for real, isn't it?
2. Yes, it sure is. Here, read another one.
I. Do I have to?
2. Yes. It'll be good for you.
1. (opens, reads) To whom it may concern. I would love to have your problem of not having change for a twenty dollar bill. I have been out of work for 3 months, and my family is starving. Twenty dollars would put food on my table for a week. (looks at envelope) Alright, you've made your point. I'm an ungrateful slob. God has blessed my life incredibly compared to these people. Compared to them, I have nothing to complain about. I never really thought of it before, but the world would love to have my problems.
2. Good for you. (exiting) Say, you got change for a twenty? 1. (follows) Very funny!
The Offertory Prayer:
Everything is a gift from God, even the smallest things, and it's the sum of these gifts that make life beautiful or sad, depending on how we use them. Amen.
Norm and Rob are going to entertain us with an imaginary
conversation between God, the Creator, and Saint Francis of Assisi. Listen carefully, for it may give you some food for thought.
THE CREATOR & ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
This is an imaginary conversation between God and St. Francis of Assisi. May it give us food for thought.
Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in south western Quebec? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of song birds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing the grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn..
The spring rains and cool weather probably make the grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it — sometimes twice a week.
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags. They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
No, Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it and pay to throw it away?
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
You aren't going to believe this, Lord, but when the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get ride of it.
What nonsense! At least they kept some of the old trees. That was a shear stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form a compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away.
No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?
After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
And where do they get this mulch? They cut down trees and grind them up.
Unbelievable! Say no more. I've heard enough! I may have to rethink the whole concept of free will before these Suburbanites destroy the earth.
They seem to have forgotten that it all started with a garden. I can't help feeling disappointed that people have forgotten that in nature, everything is connected. Tweak one strand of the web of life, and the entire web trembles. Break a strand, and the web begins to collapse.
HYMN: As Those Of Old Their First Fruits Brought
AS THOSE OF OLD THEIR FIRST-FRUITS BROUGHT
As those of old their first-fruits brought of vineyard, flock and field
To God, the giver of all good, the source of bounteous yield,
So we today our first-fruits bring, the wealth of this good land,
Of farm and market, shop and home, of mind and heart and hand.
A world in need now summons us to labour, love and give,
To make our life an offering to God, that all may live,
The church of Christ is calling us to make the dream come true,
A world redeemed, by Christ like love, all life in Christ made new.
With gratitude and humble trust we bring our best to you,
Not just to serve your cause, but share your love with neighbours too,
0 God, who gave yourself to us in Jesus Christ, your Son,
Help us to give ourselves each day until life's work is done.
MEDITATION: "Giving Thanks To God"
GIVING THANKS TO GOD
Turkeys, cornucopias, squash and potatoes. Seasoned stuffing hot from the oven. Creamed onions, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Uncles and aunts and cousins to play with. Grandmothers and grandfathers with family gathered round. Children waiting for the great pumpkin to rise over Charlie Brown's pumpkin patch. A day to relax and maybe rake some leaves in the afternoon. Is this all there is to Thanksgiving Day?
We all know that Thanksgiving has a special meaning, yet we often forget to acknowledge that meaning. It's harvest time. I have here an apple. Isn't it a beautiful apple? What colour! Who mixed the paints, who handled the brush to give such colour to this apple? God did. In his infinite love and wisdom, He has provided, through the unfailing laws of nature, for the growth, sweetness, colouring and beautifying of all the products in the fields. This apple is but one of many kinds of produce.
Praise, then, is the great meaning of thanksgiving. God, our heavenly Father, sends us every good gift. From His bountiful hand come our daily and nightly mercies. Psalm 150, verse 6: "Let everything that bath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord."
The origin of Thanksgiving in Canada is very closely connected to the traditions of Europe. As a matter of fact, the very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada, when Martin Frobisher, an explorer, landed in Newfoundland in 1578. He held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his safe arrival in the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Mass.
At the same time, French explorers arrived in Canada with Samuel de Champlain, and they also held feasts of thanks. They even formed the Order of Good Cheer and shared their feast with their Indian neighbours.
For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November. During the American Revolution, those who remained loyal to England moved to Canada and brought with them the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving, like the cornucopia and pumpkin pie. The date of Thanksgiving was not officially established in Canada until 1957. On January 31st Parliament declared: "A day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed is to be observed on the second Monday in October."
Thanksgiving for Canadians is about giving thanks for the harvest season. An attitude of grateful mind and spirit enables each one of us to appreciate fully the heritage and abundance of our country. We associate Thanksgiving Day with the time of harvest. Harvest festivals were being held hundreds of years in Europe before the first settlers arrived here in Canada.
Unfortunately, we tend to look at this day as just another holiday, a day off work, a long weekend. We have lost sight of its original purpose. Just think of the gratitude those early farmers, who worked from dawn to dusk, must have felt when the land gave up its produce.
There is a meaningful Thanksgiving custom that my Maritime family members follow. Five kernels of corn are always placed next to each setting on the dinner table, symbols of the first crops grown in this country. This part of my family were Loyalists and came to Canada just before the American Revolution. They carried with them the custom introduced by the Pilgrim settlers in America. The legend is that when the first Pilgrim settlers were in their new land, the winter was very harsh and cold. There was very little food and the people were starving.
To make the food last throughout that harsh winter they were allotted 5 kernels of corn for each day. These people had a great deal of faith and they trusted that God would bring them safely though that cold and terrible winter. When spring came, the settlers had enough corn left over to plant a small a crop. God blessed them with a beautiful summer filled with plenty of rain and sunshine. The kernels of corn grew, the harvest was great, and there was plenty for everyone. The settlers and the Native Americans who helped them, celebrated with a thanksgiving feast. Beside each plate, someone had placed five kernels of corn to remind everyone of the blessing that came from their sacrifice. And that is the story of how my family celebrates this tradition. Before the turkey is carved, each person at the table relates one thing for which he or she is grateful. Then, a family member recites the Five Kernel Prayer:
Five kernels of corn on an empty plate
Reminding us of our forefather's kin
Whose hunger was so very great
That death might have become a friend.
0 Great Creator of the earth itself
You have given bounteous harvest from seed
Grant that we not so much stock our shelf
As share your abundance with those in need.
When we all sit down to tables stacked
With food of every sort and name
Before mouth and stomach are packed
May we remember from whence it came. Amen
This old custom makes the dinner more of a spiritual feast than a material one. Just as the settlers were rewarded for their sacrifice, those who sacrifice for the Lord will be greatly blessed.
We should treat each and every day as if it were Thanksgiving Day. Time should be spent in re-examination and review of our life. There should be time to pray, thanking God for all His blessings and His loving care. We should include in our thankfulness our family and friends. Every day we should be thankful for this great nation we live in. We need to
remember to give thanks for the birds singing outside, for all the beautiful flowers growing in our garden and in the wild, and for ALL the blessings that surround us each day.
Every hour, every minute of every day, God spreads His all-protecting arms around us like a soft blanket, shielding us from all things that could cause us harm. God's blessings to us are innumerable. Daily, moment by moment, we receive physical and spiritual blessings. As the hymn tells us; "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what God has done." We often forget to thank Him for the joy of all that we have. An unknown author wrote: "Let us be thankful that there is still sunshine, that we still can glimpse the blue of the sky and in our outward way, continue to look up. Let us be thankful for friends with a kindly smile and cheerful words. This is a time for grateful thanksgiving." These are words which should guide us every day.
I'd like to share with you the story of St. Cuthbert's Eagle. St. Cuthbert was a saint of the early Northumbrian church in the Celtic tradition, and is regarded as the patron saint of Northern England. The good saint left his monastery one day to preach to the poor. He took a young lad with him as his only attendant. Together they walked along the dusty way. The heat of the noonday sun beat upon their heads, and fatigue overcame them.
Saint Cuthbert asked the lad if he knew anyone along the road where they might get some food and a place to rest. The boy answered that he knew of no-one and pointed out that they had no provisions. Saint Cuthbert said they would have to have trust in the Lord, for God would never allow those who believe in Him to perish of hunger. Then, looking up and seeing an eagle he said, "Do you see the eagle flying over there? It is possible for God to feed us by means of this bird."
They came to a river, and there, standing on the bank, was the eagle. Saint Cuthbert told the lad to run and sec what provision God had made by the bird. The lad ran and found a good-sized fish that the eagle had just caught and he brought the fish to St. Cuthbert. "What have you done?" he exclaimed, "Why have you not given a part to God's eagle? Cut the fish in two pieces, and give her one, as her service well deserves." The lad did as he was told, and the eagle, taking her half of the fish in her beak, flew away. Then entering a neighbouring village, Saint Cuthbert gave the other half to a peasant to cook, and while the lad and the villagers feasted, the good saint preached the Word of God.
We can accept the blessings and gifts from God, but after we get what we wanted, don't forget to thank Him. After all, it's only three little words: Thank you God!
We should give thanks for our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Without them, we would not be born; without being born, we could not be re-born and have the everlasting joy of eternal life with God. Our parents loved and cared for us after we were born every day of our lives, until we reach adulthood. Because of them, we were able to become children of God. We should thank God for our children and grand-children and the children of our extended families. We should than God for food and clothing, medicine and housing. All our temporal needs are met by God.
We must thank God for the incarnation of Jesus Christ — for His life, death and resurrection. Above all, we must thank God for the gift of faith, the ability to put our entire trust in. Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. We must thank God for justification. '['he Father has declared that we are justified on the basis of the righteousness of Christ charged to us. We must thank God for the forgiveness of all our sins. In the words of Psalm 107, "0 give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! Let them thank the Lord for Ills steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men!"
Thanksgiving is a profoundly Christian holiday in that it focuses on God as the true source of all our blessings. As the hymn writer, Cecil Frances Alexander, wrote; "All thins bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all." You know, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who dwell on what they want; and those who dwell on what they have. At this time of Thanksgiving, as we count our blessings and name them one by one, let's join the ranks of those who dwell on what they have, and so glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Let us pray: Our Father in heaven, we give thanks for the pleasure of gathering together on this Thanksgiving Sunday. We give thanks for the meal we are about to receive Today or tomorrow, or have already enjoyed yesterday, meals prepared by loving hands. We thank You for the freedom to enjoy it all and all the other blessings we have. We pray for health and strength to carry on and try to live as You would have us live. We thank You for this day and all our blessings. We give You thanks, eternal, loving God, through. Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
HYMN: #425 We Praise You, 0 God
RING YE BELLS OF JOY AND PRAISE
Ring ye bells of joy and praise;
Ring throughout the harvest days;
Ring across the golden fields,
Praise where earth her bounty yields.
Food from labour, rest from toil;
Wondrous mystery of the soil!
Beauty from the cloven mould;
Broken sod to living gold.
Ours the homage; thine the gift;
`Mid thy bounty we uplift
Hearts for beauty thou hest given,
L.ord of earth and Lord of heaven.
BENEDICTION: May thanksgiving be more than a special day, but may it be for us a way of life. Help us to live our lives with ever grateful and humble hearts. Let us go in peace, to love and serve God. Thanks be to God.
"God is glorified, not by our groans, but by our Thanksgivings."
- Edwin Percy Whipple
CALL TO WORSHIP:
ONE: God’s rainbow arches over us; we fear nothing anymore
For what can conquer God?
ALL: Before the beginning, and after the end, God will be.
ONE: Everything works together for God’s goals.
ALL: If God is with us, nothing we do is wasted.
ONE: Like sunbeams dancing on a lake, even our weakest efforts
will gather into the glory of God.
ALL: Gales may buffet, and storms clouds may shadow,
but God will never give up on us.
ONE: We will arise and go now; we will sink into God’s watery womb.
ALL: And rise again into new life.
ONE: A new day has dawned.
ALL: This is the day God gave us--we will rejoice and be glad in it.
OBEYING GOD. October 5, 2014
Acts 5: 27-32
I remember last year, the Dollard des Ormeaux champion midget hockey team was invited to take part in a tournament on the West Island. The team from Dollard’s first game was on the first day of Passover.
Now the Dollard team players and coaching staff were mainly Jewish and felt it was against their understanding of GOD’S TEACHINGS to play hockey during Passover.
Even though another team was willing to change places, the organizers of the tournament would not change the schedule. So the team didn’t play and automatically lost the game.
To them, they were OBEYING GOD rather than the authority of man.
It makes us stop and think of how we use Sunday, “our day of rest.”
In this morning Scripture we find Peter and the disciples once again before the court, accused of civil disobedience. They had just been told not to preach in Jerusalem -, found guilty--flogged and ordered once again, not to speak in the name of Jesus. Peter courageously tells them “WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN HUMAN AUTHORITY.” Finally released they ignored the court warning and went right back to preaching about Jesus and how his teachings can help people in their daily lives.
Peter had but one message for the courts-- WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN. His chose to do what God asked, regardless of the consequences eventually led to his death.
This adventure of Peter and the disciples goes right to the heart of Christian living—be OBEDIENT to GOD!
Peter’s story is about making the decision.--Whether to follow God’s ways or become a victim to human persuasion.
AS followers of Jesus and trying to be faithful—the story tells us we’ll need courage--it inspiration and faith –it reminds us God’s Spirit is here to help us.
Yet it’s not that simple. It can get confusing when society or ones spouse or friends suggest one way and God seems to tell us to take a different route. Then what?
Just to illustrate this:
**A doctor at the Barrie is offered a partnership in a large rich practice, in Toronto. This will take her away from her rewarding practice-- serving people who she knows and who trusted her. It would put more money in her pockets but would it put joy in her heart. Her ambitious husband says, TAKE IT. God who speaks to her conscience her sense of values, her appreciation of human life and the needs of the community --God says, LET IT ALONE. She --loves her husband and wants to be loyal to him-- and loyal to God. She knows that she cannot obey both of them. What would you do?
**Or consider a university teacher at McGill. He’s loyal to the university and the board of Directors--he’s also loyal to his students. When the Board of Directors request he adapt his course to some particular political or religious ideology, to comply would violate the truth as he understands it.
He is torn between two conflicting loyalties the School Board says one thing; and his inner voice of God who expects differently.
We can see conflicts are often more complicated than they seem. They often involve not one loyalty, but a whole chain of loyalties.
For instance, the university teacher has a wife and children. If he refuses to comply with the board’s request, he will probably lose his job. If he were the only person involved, he might gladly make the sacrifice and resign.
--But what about the children? Has he any right to make them suffer and pay the price of his decision?
--What about his students who look up to him; will they be left high and dry if he resigns?
--What about his wife who is happy with their life and is deeply involved with in the community.
All these questions and many more bear upon the issue. So we see the difficulty when we must make a decision. And I don’t suggest for a minute following God will always be easy.
“Whistle blowing” has become quite fashionable but can we appreciate the gut wrenching decisions and the probable consequences, one banished to Russia and another jailed for life in U.S.A., for following an inner voice rather than their superiors.
I guess the question is, how and when do we OBEY GOD VOICE. It’s a good question and I would like to pass on some of my thoughts.
First, we must recognize God communicates with us in different ways. We can hear God’s voice in the words of scripture or meditation. We can hear God’s voice in the words of a song, the melodies of music, or even the sounds of nature. Sometimes, God gets through to us without any words at all but our ears must be open to hear.
A good start might be applying the Golden Rule. We all know it-- do to others as we would like them do to us.
I read of a youth dance that’s an example of treating others the way we like to be treated.
**In the early 1960s a community group was holding a dance for youth. All the grade six kids were having a great time, dancing with one another. John; the only Afro- American boy was happily dancing with all the girls from his class. The adult in charge quietly pulled the girls aside and told them to refuse to dance with John. He warned that if they continue to dance with him, then all future dances would be cancelled.
Jill was suddenly scared. She knew to refuse dancing with John was wrong. But, she had been taught to respect and obey her elders, and she didn’t want to be the cause of ending the dances. So when John asked her to dance, she politely said “no,” as did all the other girls; except for Sarah, the one Jewish girl in their sixth grade class. Sarah said YES. She knew what it was like to be excluded.
To this day when Jill encounters an injustice, she remembers this dance, and John and Sarah. She remembers that she was too intimidated by the adult authority to do what she thought was right but that Sarah was willing to disobey.
This memory INSPIRES HER TO SPEAK UP and not always listen to human advice, but listen to a HIGHER SPIRITUAL POWER.
We might think about are God’s concern for JUSTICE and EQUALITY. What about FOOD, CLOTHING and SHELTER these are needed by everyone—A good arena is speaking out against OPPRESSION, these are all good places to start.
Finally, what areas of our daily lives can we apply these decisions? A few that come to mind-- healthcare issues — budgeting our money—educating our children—Government spending —environment.
Thinking of environment, this month there were several happening-- a huge PROTEST in New York City against the oil pipelines and the high level of CO2 emissions that drew thousands of demonstrators—locally, the introduction of HUGE TANKER SHIPS, approx. 800ft. By150ft. To carry crude oil from the west up the St. Lawrence River. If we want to be able to breathe and continue living on this planet, maybe the Environment is an area we should all be concerned and need to get involved.
We might consider how we spend our SABBATH.
This morning, by being here in church could be considered an act of OBEYING GOD instead of listening to relatives and friends!
This may not seem like much, but when the majority of the community is staying home, sleeping-in and say they get nothing out of going to church
-- We on the other hand have decided not to listen to them—but to be OBEDIENT to a higher power and come together to receive spiritual nourishment. And I must say with all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives it seems an appropriate place.
Doesn’t feel great to be here this morning—worshipping as a family-- thanking God for all we have-- enjoying being here together singing and praising God. It was a good decision!
If the ministry begun by Jesus is to continue, it requires disobedient women, men and children, who like Peter are unafraid to defy the authority of men and obey the spirit of God.
Jesus calls us his church family to challenge and change today’s society and the support of our Christian community will give us the courage to use Civil Disobedience when human authority is contrary to GOD’S WILL.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord you have given us a mighty task, to follow your commands, but we are not always up for the task. Each day we feel the pressure of society enticing us to be selfish and greedy. We ask for deaf ears to ignore its call and listen to your voice. Deep in our hearts we know you have called us to be part-yet a part of society and so this morning we ask you to help us in all that we do to reflect your glory and love. Help us to let others get a glimpse of you when they interact with us. AMEN