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Thanksgiving Sunday

I, along with the pianist, played this song for the offertory this morning at church.  A hymn of the season.

Come Ye Thankful People, Come

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

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

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.


A very brief history lesson

Here in Canada this weekend, we will celebrate Thanksgiving.  A lot of people ask why we don't have Thanksgiving in November.  Well, um, because we're not American?  That border that is actually not visible to the naked eye does indeed exist, and we are a separate country, so we do have separate holidays, although some of our traditions in the Thanksgiving gig are similar.

If you take a look on the internet, you will find lots of information saying that Canadian Thanksgiving has its roots in the thanksgiving of various explorers like Sir Martin Frobisher, who successfully returned, and therefore celebrated with thanksgiving.  There is also a story about the end of The Seven Year's War being followed up with a celebration of Thanksgiving.  The actual date of Thanksgiving was not really consistent until 1957 when an Act of Parliament declared the second Monday in October to be the weekend to observe thanksgiving in recognition of the bounty of the harvest.

It only makes sense that our Thanksgiving be at this time.  We are further north, and our harvest season ends sooner.  I would suspect that the reason for the similarity in celebratory traditions has to do with the reality that settlers such as The United Empire Loyalists came to Canada and shared their traditions.  Those United Empire Loyalists figure large in Canadian history in more ways than just bringing pumpkin pie.

We do have similar eating traditions for the holiday, like turkey and whatnot.  Sometimes, Thanksgiving can be wonderfully warm, with a little Indian Summer in there.  Where I live, there is a county fair that falls during the weekend, and the air of my little town will be filled this weekend with the sounds of a demolition derby.  I can hear it from my house if the windows are open.  Students, likewise, will flock home, many for the first time since leaving for school.  My son tells me there is something called "The Turkey Dump" which is a feature of Thanksgiving.  This means that any students who have left sweethearts behind at home may go home this weekend, and find out that they aren't as enamored of their high school sweetheart, and many couples will break up over this weekend, leaving the way clear for new alliances to be forged in someone's new school.  My son was told by some of the senior students at the school that it is not a good idea to try and get to know any girls seriously until after the Turkey Dump.   I thought that was kind of funny.

This isn't much of a history lesson, I know.  But honestly, Thanksgiving isn't one of those revered holidays here in Canada.  We certainly celebrate it, but it's not nearly as important as American Thanksgiving.  It does not usher in the Christmas season (although I did see that a neighbour of mine has his Christmas tree up already); it's just a nice holiday to wind down the season as fall begins to really settle in.  And it's a time for family gatherings, and I'm looking forward to having my nest full again this weekend.


The Results of Revival

In 1800, there was a wide-spread revival in Kentucky.  In the years leading up to the revival, Kentucky was a rather sparsely populated place, and it was a rather unsettled one, prone to violent attacks on settlers at the hand of the native population of Kentucky.  It was a rough place.

Things changed with the spread of Christianity.  David Rice, a Presbyterian minister, speaking in 1803, observed many changes.  He spoke about how the revival occurred "without any extraordinary means to produce it," but rather occurred in an environment of preaching, singing and praying.  Those who were affected by the revival began to see the "unreasonableness, abominable nature, pernicious effects and deadly consequences" of their sin.  Rice observed that the people had begun to have a "lively and affecting" view of the condescension of God.  They began to have a great love for the unredeemed.  He noted that a considerable number of people were "greatly reformed in their morals."  Whole families who had not been in the habit of going to church were now committed to regular worship, reading the bible, singing and praying.  And he noted the desire of people to be sanctified:

The subjects of this work appear to be very sensible of the necessity of Sanctification as well as Justification, and that 'without holiness no man can see the Lord;'  to be greatly desirous that they themselves and 'all that name the name of Christ should depart from iniquity,' should recommend the religion of Jesus to the consciences and esteem of their fellow men, that the light of their holy conversation should so shine before men that they, seeing their good works, might give glory to God.  A heaven of perfect purity and the full enjoyment of God appears to be the chief and ultimate object of their desire and pursuit.

Now I have given you my reasons for concluding the morning is come, and that we are blessed with a real revival of the benign, the heaven-born religion of Jesus Christ, which demands our grateful acknowledgements to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

It's all about change.  The people changed.  The long term results of a revival should produce change.  We tend to look for the short term results, i.e. numbers of people who "go forward," when the results may not often be visible immediately.


How Do We Implement the Golden Rule?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses how we can implement the Golden Rule:

How is it possble for anyone to implement this golden rule?  The question really is, how can our attitude and conduct ever conform to what our Lord says here?  The answer of the gospel is that you must start with God.  What is the greatest commandment?  It is this:  'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.'  And the second is like unto it:  'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'  You notice the order.  You do not start with your neighbour, you start with God.  And relationships in this world will never be right, whether between individuals, or groups of nations, until we all start with God.  You cannot love your neighbour as yourself until you love God.  You will never see yourself or your neighbour aright until you have first of all seen both in the sight of God.  We have to take these things in the right order.  We must start with God.  We were made by God and for God, and we can function truly only in relationship to God.

Did you catch this phrase:

You cannot love your neighbour as yourself until you love God.

That totally flies in the face of what our society believes.  How often do you hear people say, "You can't love others until you learn to love yourself?"  I have even heard other Christians make that statement.  It seems to me that we love ourselves too much, and what we want is for others to love us as much as we love ourselves.   What Lloyd-Jones says is so true:  we must start with God.


Heart Aflame - October 3, 2010

Psalm 106:37-42

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.  The prophet here mentions one species of superstition which demonstrates the awful blindness of the people; their not hesitating to sacrifice their sons and daughters to devils.  In applying such an abominable designation to the sin of the people, he means to exhibit it in more hateful colours.  From this we learn that inconsiderate zeal is a flimsy pretext in favour of any act of devotion.  For by how much the Jews were under the influence of burning zeal, by so much does the prophet convict them with being guilty of greater wickedness because their madness carried them away to such a pitch of enthusiasm, that they did not spare even their own offspring.  Were good intentions meritorious, as idolaters suppose, then indeed the laying aside of all natural affection in sacrificing their own children was a deed deserving the highest praise.  But when men act under the impulse of their own capricious humour, the more they occupy themselves with acts of external worship, the more do they increase their guilt.

They shed innocent blood.  Should anyone object that Abraham is praised because he did not withhold his only son, the answer is plain, that he did it in obedience to God's command, so that every vestige of inhumanity was effaced by means of the purity of faith.  For if obedience is better than sacrifice (I Sam. 15:2), it is the best rule both for morality and religion.  It is an awful manifestation of God's vindictive wrath, when the superstitious heathens, left to their own inventions, become hardened in deeds of cruelty.  As often as the martyrs put their life in jeopardy in defence of the truth, the incense of such a sacrifice is pleasing to God.  But when the two Romans, by name Decii, in an execrable manner devoted themselves to death, that was an act of atrocious impiety.  It is not without just cause, therefore, that the prophet enhances the guilt of the people by this consideration, that to the perverse mode of worshipping God, they had added excessive cruelty.