Submit Your Own!
Thanksgiving begins with an empty plate.
By Rev. Canon Tony W. Bouwmeester
By: Rev. Canon Tony W. Bouwmeester.
Once again on Monday October the 11th we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday. Many families will come together and give thanks to God for the harvest we reap this year. Again there will be no famine in our land of Canada. Thanks to God, we live in a land of plenty and no one needs to go hungry.
Thanksgiving should not be restricted to a holiday weekend. Thanksgiving really should be a daily affair, and the work of a lifetime.
Many years ago when our children were small they said thanks with us for every meal. We often used the thanksgiving children say, “ God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food. By His hand we all are fed: thank you Lord for our daily bread. Amen.” One day our youngest son mark decided he needed to give thanks for everything on his plate and said, “Thank you God for the peas and carrots and the meat and gravy. Amen.” It was cute and very personalized. However one day there was nothing on his plate. As usual he began, “Thank you God….” Then he looked at his plate and saw there was nothing there. He never batted an eye and said, “Thank you God for the empty plate.” That was the day it became clear to me that thanksgiving begins with an empty plate, and improves from there.
What really is thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is doing something in gratitude for a gift or a favour received. In the Christian life thanksgiving is the gratitude we give to God for provisions and blessings received. Especially thanksgiving for the gift of forgiveness of sin, through the gift of His life made by Jesus Christ, on the cross. In that sense thanksgiving is the work of a lifetime. The good works we do are not done to gain God’s favour. They are our gratitude for his grace.
Now the biblical writer to the Hebrews says, “Through Jesus…let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:15-16). The name Jesus or the Hebrew Jeshua means savior. Giving thanks to His name means acknowledging with gratitude that the meaning of His name is fulfilled on the cross. That gift of Jesus’ life was once for all it cannot be repeated. What sacrifice can we offer to return thanks? The sacrifice of “praise” and “doing good.”
Christians should offer continual praise and thanks to God by publicly acknowledging that all our blessings come from God. They are not the works of our hands. The giving of public testimony of what God has done for us is not an option but an obligation of gratitude. It is the offering of a thankful heart.
However we cannot stop there; those who are hungry cannot eat the fruits of lips that give thanks to God’s name. Our churches cannot provide help to those in need on the strength of praise to God alone. The writer to the Hebrews clearly says in addition, “Do not neglect doing good and sharing.” In our social situation even Governments are saying, “Let the churches take care of the poor.” More and more people are turning to the churches for help only to find that most churches do not have the means to provide for the need. Surely that is where the sharing of our money and material resources comes in.
Thanksgiving is not the mere celebration of a holiday, but the active participation in the work God calls us to do. Providing for those who are in need should be a large part of that work and is enhanced or restricted only by the measure of the generosity of God’s people. In Port Rowan I would ask that you be generous with food and financial assistance to your Church or to the local food bank for that purpose.
Everything we do should reflect our thankfulness to God. Thanksgiving is a testimony raised among people giving glory to God in an expression of gratitude at work, at home, and at play. Scripture tells us that in everything we should give thanks to God. In that sense it is the work of a lifetime even if it begins with an empty plate.
Rev. Canon Tony W. Bouwmeester serves as Rector of the Anglican Paris of Long Point bay.
By Andy Konigsmark
Intro: This is a story about five friends. Who lives were changed forever by one moment. Old Testament Parallel Psalm 103:2-5
The Four Friends
For as long as I can remember I have been best friends with Patrick, Jeff, Chris, and Deon. I can hardly remember a time when I did not know these guys. We have been inseparable since the day we could walk. Everyday we would wake up and invent a new game to play. We became pretty creative after awhile. However, when I creativity began to waver we would get into our fair share of trouble. I am sure y’all would like to hear about that, but I’ll save it for another time.
The one place I remember the most was the spot where went cliff jumping. There was a series of three rocks that jutted out over the water ranging from 15 feet all the way to 80 feet. They were called Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.
I can still remember the day as if it happened yesterday. We were our to the rocks one afternoon and we were all talking a big game about jumping off Hell. We had been throwing back flips off Purgatory for years and Heaven was a place for rookies. You know how guys are when they get together. Everyone starts talking a big game, until it is time for the big moment. At the moment it is time to jump, your buddy backs down. As friends, we are relentless about giving him a bad time. It is our job to taunt him for weeks.
However, today was going to be different. I was going to jump off Hell. As usual, we warmed up by jumping off Heaven and then we start scrambling up Purgatory.
We are all jumping off having a good time. Then Patrick looks over, “Alright boys lets make this happen.”
I was scared to death, but I didn’t want to back down. My heart was beating out of my chest. The good news: I was wet so no one could see I was sweating bullets. I yell back, “I’m ready…I don’t know about y’all.” I had just thrown down the gauntlet, now it was up to the boys. I was ready to prove my manhood.
So I scrambled off to the top of Hell. Patrick, not to be outdone, comes running up behind me. Deon, Jeff, and Chris wanted no part of it. Of course we start taunting them. “Oh come on guys, you’re 18 years old. Its time to act like a man.” But they weren’t going to have any of it.
I knew if I didn’t jump right away I would lose my courage. Like an idiot I turn to Patrick, “Alright, I’ll see you in the water.” I literally, just walked off the edge. As I am falling towards the water…, which seemed like an eternity…I noticed I was going to hit the rocks. I didn’t jump out far enough. I can hear Jeff and Deon screaming… he’s going to hit…he’s going to hit. My life flashed before my eyes. The entire fall, I imagining myself smashing against the rocks. After an eternity, I landed in the water. It was one of the loudest noises we had ever heard. My body and mind were in complete shock. Immediately, I begin to assess my body. Nothing seemed to be hurt except my pride, but I thankfully was in one piece. I turned to look and somehow I had landed 5 feet from the rocks and I was nowhere close to touching the bottom. I was fine…. I was totally fine.
When I finally gathered myself I looked up to yell at Patrick. I didn’t matter I survived the jump. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. In good conscious I couldn’t let him jump. Definitely one of the stupidest things we have ever done.
I start yelling to Patrick, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” The boys are now yelling … “Do it…Do it.”
Then in a blink of an eye he leaps into the air. Thank god he is going to clear the rocks, but he starts tumbling in the air. He is going to land in the water headfirst. Time absolutely stood still. Finally he hits the water, but he does not surface. Frantically I swim over to him and he is just bobbing beneath the water. With all of the strength I can muster I drag him back to shore, but his body is totally limp.
Jeff pulls him out of the water. He’s conscious, but he can’t move. “Patrick, Patrick can you hear us?”
“I think my neck is broken. I can’t feel anything.”
I don’t know about the other guys, but I am so consumed with guilt. It was my fault he jumped. It was my fault he’s now hurt. It was at that moment we made a pact to never leave Patrick’s side. No matter the cost.
I would love to say, we exaggerated the situation and Patrick was fine. That’s what I would love to say. In reality, he broke his neck. He broke his neck and it was my fault. At the tender age of 18 he is completely paralyzed from the neck down, but he doesn’t hold me responsible.
Over the years that have passed we have kept our promise. One of us is always at Patrick’s side. We take him everywhere with us. We give his family money to help take care of him and I’m always trying to figure out ways to cheer him up.
Then one day, we heard the news that a healer had come to town. For some unexplained reason, we believed this man could heal our friend. We had taken Patrick to other healers, but they could not do anything for him. For years, we prayed for a miracle. We carried him everywhere in search of this miracle. We continued to maintain hope that God could heal our friend.
What if? Maybe, just maybe this man could be our miracle. We owed it to Patrick, at least I felt like I owed it Patrick.
We literally dragged him to the man’s home, but there were hundreds of people just waiting to see the healer. We waited for an entire day just to get a glimpse, but the crowd kept growing. All I wanted was for this man to see our friend. If he just catches a glimpse, he might heal him.
I don’t know who came up with the idea, but we were desperate. We decided to crawl up onto the roof, tear a hole in a complete stranger’s ceiling and then lower Patrick down to the feet of the healer. Our plan was simple enough: Just let this man see our sick friend.
The whole process struck me as bizarre, but nobody seemed to notice we were tearing the house apart. Finally, the hole was large enough and we began to lower Patrick to the floor. The whole time he was saying, “Guys are you sure this is a good idea?”
Of course it was a bad idea, but what other idea did we have? We had heard stories about this man. This was the man who could heal our friend. Some people were calling him the Messiah others called him the Son of God. I did not care what his name was I just wanted him to heal my friend.
This man, this Jesus, finally sees Patrick…there is no hesitation. He looks at him, “Son, I forgive your sins.”
What? After all these years all this healer can say is, “I forgive your sins”. What about his broken neck? What about the fact he can’t walk? What about the guilt that controls my life? I could have told Patrick his sins were forgiven. I wasn’t the only person upset that day. The crowd starts clamoring. The whispers are growing louder. “He can’t talk that way. Who is he to forgive his sins? Only God can forgive a man’s sins. How dare he act this way?”
Then Jesus speaks again. He knew the crowd was angry with him. “Why are you so skeptical? Which is easier to say I forgive your sins or take up your mat and walk?
Then he looked directly at Patrick, “Take up your mat and walk.”
That’s exactly what Patrick did. He just got up and walked. He walked right out that door and never looked back. However, he did leave praising the name of Jesus.
We knew at that moment this man, this Jesus, was the Messiah. He was the Son of God. If he could heal my best friend who was physically broken, he could heal me of anything. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew I better listen to Jesus. He had an important plan for my life and I wanted to be apart of it.
Forgiveness the key to church unity.
By Rev. Canon Tony W. Bouwmeester
By: Rev. Canon Tony W. Bouwmeester.
When I was twelve years old, and growing up in the Netherlands, I became infatuated and fell in love with a girl my age in the neighborhood. I was too bashful and did not have the nerve to tell her that I liked her, something like the story of Charlie Brown and the little redheaded girl.
However, what did happen is that my parents figured out my romantic notions. Soon my father took me aside and said not to get too serious about her because, “Her parents buy bread from the wrong baker.” To understand this saying you need to know that our village had four bakers and four different Church denominations. At ripe old age of twelve I experienced a head on collision with the tragedy of the divided Church.
In the gospel of John we find that Jesus prays to the Father for the unity of the believers. His desire is, “That they may all be one; even as you Father, Are in Me and I in You, that they may also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:21). Jesus said this prayer for the benefit of those who would believe in Him through the word preached by the disciples. Is this kind of unity possible, and if so, how can this happen? Can it be found in the Bible itself?
The unity Jesus prays for I believe can be found in the book of Acts. After Jesus’ ascension the Apostles and others are assembled in the upper room. And Luke reports that, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” This is approximately fifty days after Jesus had risen from the grave and had appeared to the disciples in that same upper room on the first Sunday after Good Friday. I think it is safe to say that at that first appearance the disciples were in turmoil and definitely not all of one mind. In fact in the days prior to the crucifixion there was a lot of competition, between the disciples, for places of honour in the Kingdom to be inaugurated by Jesus. We need to ask what might have happened in those fifty days from the resurrection to Pentecost.
The gospel of John describes that first appearance in chapter twenty. John reports that the disciples are behind locked doors and afraid. Suddenly Jesus stands in their midst and says, “Peace be with you.” He then breaths on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Note that the Holy Spirit was not given on Pentecost, but with a gentle breath, on that first Sunday after the resurrection; that same Holy Spirit filled them with power fifty days later at Pentecost, the day they were all together and of one mind.
After Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit He says, “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any they have been retained” (John 20:19-23). To me this is the most important, and least understood, principle based on Jesus’ sayings in all of Christianity. The word retain here literally means, “Holding on to something for your own Use.” It is the best description available to describe how we hold on to grudges. If we do not forgive others we think we hold them hostage by our behavior. The truth of unforgiveness is that it turns into a grudge and has the potential of damaging the person holding the grudge. This can spill over into the community leading to gossip, distrust, and discontent. As a result the unity of the community will be lost. At worst it can become an all against one or an all against each other situation.
As we have seen, during their time with Jesus, the disciples were not at one with each other. There was strong competition amongst them for the best place at Jesus’ right or left hand in the kingdom. However, according to the book of Acts, fifty days after the resurrection we find those same disciples all of one mind in that same upper room. We need to ask what might have happened in the mean time. Scripture does not tell us but I believe it is safe to conclude that a lot of forgiveness and reconciliation has taken place between them. Discord was turned into concord, the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to become fully alive and fill them was opened, and the Church was born.
The Church is often metaphorically referred to as, “The body of Christ.” That body becomes especially visible here on earth when its members partake in the sharing of Holy Communion, where they are said to become one in Jesus Christ. I long for the day when not just all members of a denomination become of one mind but all denominates together will do so. I believe that through forgiveness and reconciliation all could become of one mind, and no one would be buying bread from the wrong baker. Truly then the body of Christ would be visible here on earth. Is it Possible? Humanly speaking not likely, but with God all things are possible. One day there will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem where no temple or church steeple will be found (Revelation chapter 21).
Rev. Canon Tony W. Bouwmeester serves as Pastor to the Anglican Parish of Longpoint Bay, Ontario, Canada.
By Dan Henderson
Margaret Mahler, a psychoanalysis who has studied the importance of parenting with children, devised the concept of being a "good enough mother." She had filmed and video taped the interactions between mothers and their infants. What she discovered was that those mothers who were emotionally distant usually invoked a panic in the infant where the infant felt abandoned or not cared for. Conversely, those mothers who were constantly focusing only on the infant and neglecting other aspects of their lives invoked feelings in their children of being entitled.
She then predicted that those infants who were neglected would grow up wanting to be cared for by someone but not being able to trust anyone. Those who are cared for overly so, Mahler predicted, would always be looking for someone to be there for them. They would need that other person to fill up the emptiness in their life. But the "good enough mother" could raise children with enough self esteem and self confidence that they could endure the tensions of interactions with others.
Too often we of the church have placed the heavy demands of highest expectation on each other. We are human and humans do sin and make mistakes. The distress of Christian living is our tendency to slip into judgment and criticism of each other. It is safer not to be involved or to create a concept for the betterment of the kingdom. It is the fear of being criticized that holds many of us back from reaching the potential God has for us. "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known" (Mt 10:26).
Can you imagine the potential a congregation would have if each member encouraged each other to carry the mission of their church in the community? The assurance is that we are in God's hands. When we unbridle the courage of our faith, then the ministry and mission is based on the trust that God is with us in all our ventures. (from GoodPreacher.com)
By Avis Clendenen
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" pens poet Mary Oliver in the final verse of "The Summer Day."1 Maybe not quite the language of the compassionate Galilean, but the intent is there as he calls the twelve. The task the twelve are to perform is rooted in the extravagant compassion Jesus has extended to the multitudes and the evolution of the need for a ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing to be carried out by more than one wild and precious life. We remember that "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few" (Mt 9:37), as we hear the charge to the twelve is to go among the lost and helpless of Israel preaching the kingdom, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, and casting out demons (Mt 10:5-8). While doing so they are living examples of trust in God’s providential care: "you received without pay, give without pay" (v. 8). The summons by Jesus in Matthew is to go forth and do as he has done. The imitatio Christi is unspoken yet so clear.2
Reflection on the missionary task and its messengers lead me to one of the world’s great master wood engravers, Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), refugee from Nazi Germany, convert to Quakerism, and associate of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement.
In 1949 Eichenberg was first introduced to Dorothy Day and responded to her invitation to contribute his art to her pacifist newspaper, "The Catholic Worker." (continued in Lectionary Homiletics/or Journal/Lesson and the Arts at GoodPreacher.com)
1. See Mary Oliver in New and Selected Poems (Boston, MA Beacon Press, 1992).
2. W.D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Vol. II (New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 150.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 [Next] [Last Page]