N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

Posts tagged “faith

Is the American Thanksgiving Holiday…and giving thanks… going away?

boys watching woman prayingThanksgiving has always been a wonderful holiday for our family and friends.  It is not only about the turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and other good foods, but also about remembering how grateful we are to God for all our many blessings.   I was shocked when I went to some local stores and asked about Thanksgiving decorations.  I found one floor mat that said  “Give Thanks” and a few Fall colored place mats.   Two different, well-known stores said, ” We don’t order many Thanksgiving things because the public demand seems to be turning toward Halloween.”

The new special day is called “Black Friday”, when stores advertise great bargains and sales.  Even this is not enough for stores have now begun to open not only on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but on Thursday, which is the day of Thanksgiving. Some people were asking “Why?!” Do employees not want to be with family on this national holiday?  The answer was that a few stores tried it and found that the public came…even if it was on Thanksgiving.

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I ask myself, “Are these examples of America turning away from God?”    Some even call Thanksgiving the “National Nap Day …along with a full belly and football.   Nothing wrong with tradition and a nap can be a great thing.  Gathering around the  TV to watch a football game has its place and is a great deal of fun to many families.

Stores that eliminate the theme of”Thanksgiving” in favor of Halloween is  difficult to understand…unless we look at everything from a monetary viewpoint. It could also say something about our present-day values in America.  This leads me to say to parents and family…”Put an emphasis on Thanksgiving….and before that first bite,  ask those around the table to give one thing that they are really thankful for.  Make it a real Thanksgiving meal.”  Otherwise, we may be moving our pumpkin pie into bags for the “trick or treat” kids.

Famous Thanksgiving painting by Norman Rockwell

Famous Thanksgiving painting by Norman Rockwell

From the National Library of Congress: Thanksgiving is for Americans to give thanks for the Fall harvest, good fortune and blessings from God. The idea of celebrating the harvest pre-dates the Pilgrims with origins that can be traced back to Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Even Native Americans annually celebrated their harvest long before Europeans or the Spanish ever arrived on the North American Continent. In America, we recognize the Pilgrim’s three day feast at Plymouth  in October of 1621 as the first Thanksgiving in the new world.

On September of 1863 Sarah Hale wrote to then President Abraham Lincoln, explaining that a “national feeling of Thanksgiving” would benefit the country in the midst of the Civil War. Hale wrote in part:”The influence of these state seasons of sacred remembrances, high aspirations, and tender . . . rejoicings would not only be salutary on the character of our own citizens, but the world would be made better . . . . If the germ of good feeling be ever so deeply buried under ‘the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life,’ it may be brought out by sympathy and vivified by culture and effort.” Sarah Hale’s letter led President Lincoln to his October 3, 1863 proclamation that the last Thursday of November be Thanksgiving Day.    (Other Presidents tried to change the date causing some confusion.)  Congress introduced legislation, signed by President Roosevelt, that would establish the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day, making it the last Thursday five out of every seven years. The legislation took effect in 1942 and would ensure that future presidential proclamations could not impact the scheduling of the holiday.
 

We at Boyer Writes pray for a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  Enjoy the football, nap, the food and remember to give thanks to the One Who has showered us with many blessings.  

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Looking ahead to the holidays, click the picture to the right on this page for some beautiful prints, art and collectibles  in our Gallery.


Dancing before the Lord….for hundreds of years!

Modern Day Dancers...rejoicing in their Lord

Modern Day Dancers…rejoicing in their Lord

Worship is different in every church.  Some are formal and quiet.  Others are contemporary and joyful.  How one worships best is up to the individual…where he feels closest to God in prayer and in praise. Even some more formal services may have several dancers as part of the service.   For me, personally, I like to go into a quiet setting where I can concentrate on Christ  and what He has done.  As a Christian, I believe that it is important to set aside the distractions that we have in the world and focus on what is the most important in our lives…first of all my Savior.

Some of the Scripture passages that reference dancing before God are these:
1 Chronicles 16:32     Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields dance (rejoice), and all that is therein.

Job 21:12     They take the timbrel and harp, and dance (rejoice) at the sound of the organ.

Psalm 42:4     When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept dancing (holy day.)

In my research on this subject, I was introduced to a whole town that has been praising God in dance for hundreds of years.

The History of the Dancing Procession at Echternach in Luxembourg.

“In the year 698, the Iro-Scottish monck Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht , received an estate situated in Echternach. This allowed Willibrord to build a monastery, which should become later an important spiritual and cultural center. Soon after Willibrord’s death in 739 great crowds of pilgrims started to come to the grave of the saint. The dancing procession may very well have originated in these gatherings. A document of 1497 for the first time mentions springen-heiligen (“dancing saints”).Every year on Whit Tuesday (the Tuesday after Pentecost) some 12-14,000 pilgrims take part in the procession, among them eight to nine thousand dancers.”  

For your pleasure, enjoy the Dancing Procession…a different form of worship and praise. The video shows the film from years past as well as more recent processions.  The young learn from the older family members and there is an emphasis on blessings and prayers for the sick.

 


Persecution- Pilgrim’s Progress-John Bunyan’s only hymn

Pilgrim starts his journey with a heavy load.

Pilgrim’s journey with a heavy load.

John Bunyan was the author of the famous Pilgrim’s Progress. His life had some interesting twists and turns.pilgrims progress2

EARLY LIFE: John chose a job ‘on the road’ by adopting the trade of tinker, the mender of pots and pans. Few people could afford to purchase new pots when old ones became damaged, so pots were mended time and time again.  Tinkers were regarded, by some, in the same poor light as gypsies.  John enlisted in the Parliamentary army and from 1644-1647 served in the Newport Pagnell garrison. The English Civil War was nearing an end and it was told that John was saved from death one day, when a fellow soldier volunteered to go into battle in his place and was killed while walking sentry duty.”

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: It was sometime later that John wrote in  his autobiography, Grace Abounding, that he had led an abandoned life in his youth and was morally reprehensible as a result.  He began to  hear voices urging him to “sell Christ” and that he was tortured by fearful visions… claiming to have heard a voice that asked: “Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven or have thy sins and go to hell?”   John believed that this had been the voice of God, chastising his indulgent ways. John’s spirituality was born from this experience and he began to struggle with guilt, self-doubt and to believe in the Bible’s promise of damnation or salvation.  He sometimes was despondent and struggled with mental turmoil until his spiritual journey led him to St. John’s Church in Bedford.

Pilgrim's load drops off at the foot of the cross.

Pilgrim’s load drops off at the foot of the cross.

BECOMING AN AUTHOR AND PREACHER: He began writing.  His first book, Some Gospel Truths, was written in 1656 and his second book, Vindication, was published. Pilgrim’s Progress was to come later.

PERSECUTION:  Bunyan’s persecution began when Charles II of England was crowned.   Meeting-houses were quickly closed and all citizens required to attend their Anglican parish church. It became punishable by law to “conduct divine service except in accordance with the ritual of the church, or for one not in Episcopal orders to address a congregation.” Thus, John Bunyan no longer had the freedom to preach in whatever way he felt lead, something he had enjoyed under the Puritan Commonwealth. He was arrested on 12 November 1660, when preaching privately.  John was brought before a magistrate  where he refused to desist from preaching.  Bunyan was told  that all the authorities wanted was that he not  preach at private gatherings, as it was suspected that these non-conformist meetings were being used by people plotting against the king. In answer to the court, John argued that God’s law obliged him to preach at any and every opportunity and so he was duty bound to refuse.

Bunyan was brought before the courts again and was incarcerated for 3 months for the crimes of “pertinaciously abstaining” from attending mandatory Anglican church services and preaching at “unlawful meetings”.   He was put in and out of jail at various times for a total of twelve years.

THE WRITING OF PILGRIM’S PROGRESS:  It was during 1675, in Bedford County Gaol, that John Bunyan conceived his allegorical novel: The Pilgrim’s Progress.   In 1666, John was briefly released for a few weeks, before being re-arrested – again, for preaching – and sent back to Bedford’s County gaol, where he remained for a further six years. During that time, he preached to his fellow prisoners – a congregation of about sixty. In his possession were two books, John Foxe’s  Book of Martyrs, the Bible, a violin he had made out of tin, a flute he’d made from a chair leg and a supply of pen and paper. Both music and writing were integral to John’s Puritan faith. John Bunyan was released in January 1672, when  the  Declaration of Religious Indulgence was issued. ( The Declaration granted broad religious freedom in England by suspending penal laws enforcing conformity to the Church of England  and allowing persons to worship in their homes or chapels as they saw fit.  It  ended the requirement of affirming religious oaths before gaining employment in government office.)

JOHN BUNYAN WROTE ONLY ONE HYMN: “To be a Pilgrim” (also commonly known as “He Who would Valiant be” is the only hymn John Bunyan is credited with writing.  The hymn recalls the words of Hebrews 11:13: “…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

WORDS TO JOHN BUNYAN’S HYMN:  “To be a Pilgrim” as they have been slightly modified in recent years.

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim. Who so beset him round with dismal stories Do but themselves confound—his strength the more is.No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight, He will make good his right to be a pilgrim. Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,We know we at the end, shall life inherit.Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England requested it sung at her funeral. Read the words above as you listen.

Another version: St Paul’s congregation music  (Enlarge screen)


The White Butterfly

However you want to look at it…a white butterfly saved the lives of two miners in Chile.  Some call

it superstition.  Some call it a miracle.  Others know that it is the unknown hand of God that brings together circumstances that can’t be explained.  I would call it…God’s mercy. Yes, the white butterfly was often seen above ground on flowers…but a half mile below the surface?    Those circumstances are meant to bring meaning in life…and faith to those who hear the story told below.  You decide…if you dare.  

Turn on your sound and click to enlarge video.