About three hours have passed since I took my dear Carolyn to the airport for her flight back to Prince George. We had spent the Thanksgiving weekend together in Saskatoon. We were here because of my work in transition pastoral ministry at Erindale Alliance Church, and because we wanted to attend the 50th Anniversary Banquet of Westgate Alliance Church together, a church we had served 30 – 33 years ago. The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful for this time of year. Warm sunshine covered the harvested fields of this rich Canadian prairie region. The colourful leaves danced in the sunlight. Albert Camus said it well: Autumn is another spring when every leaf is a flower.
Sunday morning worship at Erindale was a good reminder of the significance of grace to thanksgiving and praise. True thanksgiving, I have come to realize again, is only possible as we recognize the wonder of the grace that has been poured out upon our lives by our heavenly Father. We are all the daily recipients of many blessings from God’s hand since it is obvious that we have nothing to do with earning them. The greatest grace of all, of course, was poured out upon us through the coming of Christ, his death and resurrection for our sins. This gift represents the most precious and costly thing that God could ever have given to us. How good it was to conclude our worship by receiving the bread and the grape juice in remembrance of this awesome treasure! Once a person has come to understand and receive this gift of Christ and his eternal salvation, he or she discovers the centre and the secret to thanksgiving and praise.
When we went to Westgate 33 ½ years ago, we never dreamed our few short years there would have such a far-reaching impact. Though we went through some very deep waters in our experience there, through the major relocation program and all that it involved, the church has continued to thrive and prosper under the good leadership of various pastors since that time. It was good to see some of them, and to share in praise to God and thanksgiving together. We reconnected with people there we hadn’t seen for years. It was a home-coming for us in more ways than one. For Carolyn it was especially significant because she hadn’t been back since our tearful farewell so many years earlier. I’m so thankful we were able, only by God’s grace, to recover from that difficult experience and to go on to see many other people’s lives impacted by the truth of the gospel.
On Monday we took a three-hour drive toward the northeast of the province ending in Carrot River where we met and visited with Carolyn’s oldest cousin. Over tea, she regaled us with many hilarious stories of the extended family’s life and development in that very beautiful part of the province. More than once, as we traveled the area, we remarked about the vast expanse of the province with its rich and picturesque farm lands. Though we lived in Saskatchewan for many years, we had never driven to places like Melfort, Tisdale, Arborfield, and Carrot River. Before yesterday, Moose Range and Aylsham were only geographical names on a map in northeastern Saskatchewan where Carolyn’s extended family used to live. Now we were actually there seeing these important places up close. (It’s true Carolyn had been there as a child, but the memory of it had pretty much disappeared.)
All together, the Thanksgiving weekend together in Saskatoon, was a most delightful time for my sweetheart and me. It was a walk through memory lane in a park of vivd colour and sunshine. It was good to spend time reminiscing, worshipping, and just being together for our 2014 Canadian Thanksgiving in this wonderful part of the world. Though there still are occasions for lots of anxiety and stress in our lives for many reasons (some of them very minor), all of it is mitigated by the knowledge of God’s great goodness to us in Christ, and in the reality of so many blessings He has sent our way. God really is good. How can we not help but give Him all the praise, honour, and glory, that we can.