Please welcome my dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, as today's guest blogger!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I prepared my sermon on September 27, 2022 for the following Sunday, October 2nd.
I called it my pre-harvest Thanksgiving sermon because I was not going to be preaching on Canada’s National Thanksgiving Sunday (October 9th).
However, COVID intervened, and my plan was thwarted:
I tested positive on Thursday – two days after writing my message.
So, from my quarantined cloister, I offer you this written version as you and I prepare for Thanksgiving 2022.
I call it, “The Sermon I Wrote But Never Spoke”.
As I walked from St. John’s Church in Burlington, Ontario, towards the Parish Hall, somebody said, “They are waiting for you to say grace so people can eat at the BBQ”.
Not wanting to keep people waiting too long, I rushed upstairs and wondered what grace I should say.
In my wallet I carry three graces, two humorous in nature and the third called the World Hunger Grace.
I decided to use the third.
It is attributed to the Girl Guides, initially used in Huron Diocese in Ontario, and repeated often in multiple venues around the world by Archbishop Ted Scott, former Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Here are the words for the World Hunger Grace …
This grace is very fitting for us as we pause and reflect on what we have and who we are as we prepare for our Thanksgiving.
This grace is very fitting in light of the Act passed in Canada’s Parliament on Jan. 31, 1957 – declaring the 2nd Monday in October as:
"A DAY OF GENERAL THANKSGIVING TO ALMIGHTY GOD
FOR THE BOUNTIFUL HARVEST WITH WHICH CANADA HAS BEEN BLESSED".
This grace is very fitting as it reminds us of what Charles Dickens wrote, “We complain and gripe for 364 days every year and give thanks on one --- it should be the other way around”.
Traditionally HARVEST meant sowing the seeds in the spring and harvesting the crops in the fall, but there are many kinds of harvests in our lives.
Harvest can mean the gathering of crops, as well as the product or results of an action. It can come in the form of financial growth, creative output, or even renewed relationships.
Think of which harvest applies in your own situation ...
The World Hunger Grace helps us to focus both on what we possess ourselves
and what we can do unto others.
Firstly, FOOD - all we need to live – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual food.
Secondly, FAITH – our value system, our belief in a loving God, our trust in one another’s righteousness.
Thirdly, FRIENDS – who walk with us faithfully, who give us assurance, guidance, compassion, confidence, and encouragement.
The challenge of the prayer is that while giving thanks for what we have,
we are acknowledging what others do not have and then pledging ourselves to help them.
For those who WALK IN HUNGER -
We can donate to the food drive, volunteer our services, or send a cheque to help those devasted by floods, hurricanes, fires, droughts, and other dehumanizing conditions.
While stopped at a red light, a man approached my car. As I reached out to give him money, he handed me cards for free coffee from a nearby take out. He said, “I really wasn’t asking for money.” I replied, “I really don’t want the free coffee cards, but I will take them and give them to someone who does.” I think each of us was fulfilling what the prayer is asking us to do.
For those who WALK IN FEAR –
People being bullied, discriminated against for many reasons, forced to choose between heating their homes during winter or proving food for their family, fearful of their job security or the pandemic or wars or the many other situations where people can lose hope and vision - we can be their model and inspiration, showing that that even though we are “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” (our worst possible scenario) we are not afraid because we believe in a loving God who is with us at all times, in all places and in every conceivable situation.
For people who WALK ALONE –
Those living in our city or neighbourhood, those waiting in hospitals, those residing in their own residence or long term care facilities, those coming to church - we can be their friends by welcoming them in person, making a telephone call, sending a card or email, etc. to assure them they are not alone.
Keith decided he would walk with people who were in palliative care facilities. During his visit he would read to them their choice of books, magazines, or papers. Over many years he walked with nearly one hundred people as they walked towards eternity.
This Thanksgiving, as we give thanks for our food, faith, and friends …
let us renew our commitment to help those walking in hunger,
those walking in fear
and those walking alone.
Maybe in your personal prayers, as a grace before your meal or in some other venue,
you can pray silently or aloud or together with others …
at St. John’s Church, Burlington, Ontario, Canada.)