our Thanksgiving sermon

In Canada, Thanksgiving occurs on the second Monday of October. A few years ago I did some research on Thanksgiving to find out the differences between the American and Canadian versions. I think that the date difference has to do with an earlier harvest in our northern climes. And, of course, there are Canadians who claim that ‘we’ celebrated Thanksgiving ‘first’, before the Plymouth Pilgrims. Part of the Canadian psyche is an incredible inferiority complex towards the USA. We are founded on a negative principle, “We don’t want to be Americans.” From that flows all of our tortured way of thinking up here.

Well… whatever…

Sometimes it gets a bit painful to keep up the Canadian facade.

In any case, yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving (and my brother’s birthday). In our church we have often celebrated Thanksgiving with a traditional Thanksgiving meal together with as many of our church people as have cared to come. Many of our folks are somewhat ‘disconnected’ – no immediate family in the area, or very limited relationships with the family that is here. So we are their family. When we started this, my wife and I lived in a half duplex and we could have the whole church over in our dining room, all ten of us. Thankfully, the crowd is a bit bigger now and we have a church building to hold it in.

Yesterday we invited my brother and his family ‘down-Island’ to provide music for our service and allow my brother to ‘sing for his supper.’ (I even made him give me the note to start ‘Happy Birthday’, since I am decidedly unmusical.) We had a crowd of about 50 people, including several lost family members of our church members. For one couple, it was the first time they had darkened the door of our church, although they only stayed for the meal and not for the service. I hope that the contact will allow future contacts and that they will respond to the gospel someday.

For the message, I was working my way through the passages in the Synoptics that cover the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, the challenge of the priests and elders (‘by what authority do you do these things’), and the three parables the Lord gives in response. Fortunately, the last parable was “The Wedding Banquet” so it fit in nicely with Thanksgiving. In the message I pointed out the theme of invitation in the Banquet parable. Those first invited refused, and even killed some of those sent to invite them. The response was wrath and destruction. From there, I turned to the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, the parables of the two sons (“I go, sir” but he didn’t go; “I won’t go” but he did go), and of the landowner whose tenants killed the landowner’s son. Each of these are either a spoken or an acted parable of the relation between God and Israel, the nation first invited to the banquet, but in denial and refusal to come. God then sends his servants on the highways to invite all to the feast. Those highways lead around the world, ending in Victoria, BC, and with many ports of call in between. The banquet hall will be filled, and the work of the invitation is ongoing. A final warning is given in the parable concerning the man who is improperly clothed. If you will enter the banquet hall, you will enter God’s way, not your own way.

Our proposition was this: “The invitation that many have rejected is still open to you.”

No one made any visible response, but we do pray that the word of God will have an effect. There were lost people in the service yesterday, so may God’s word speak with power to their hearts.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


  1. Kent Brandenburg says:

    I love that marriage invitation in the synoptics. Thanksgiving is great for the unsaved even as at their root they are unthankful.