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Oktoberfest
by Rev. Dr. Jonathan Dent
October 1, 2018

What do we think about as we enter the month of October? Summer is really over, and the leaves leave the trees.

Get prepared for the cold. And certain holidays come to mind: Halloween, Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving. Now I have

a real concern around celebrating evil at Halloween time, graveyards, demons, vampires and worse. These things simply

don’t belong in the fun package of Christians. We could discuss zombies and other half-dead entities as well. But I

understand children wanting to have fun and dressing up. But as a pastor, I can’t celebrate death in this way. I know

it’s a time to meet neighbours and their children. I’m all for that. I’m not really even as concerned as my

medical/dental friends would have me be about candy. I am concerned for your and my spiritual health and about our

mental real estate.

 

Oktoberfest is the Germanic beer drinking, sausage and schnitzel eating festival which makes some sense of the harvest

and harvest season. It is not large on my radar, nor probably on the Canadian radar, but it is there. It contains the

name of the month and something of celebrating the harvest. Again, hopefully it does not mean partying into obscurity.

October 17 may bring such as well. That is a different kind of social experiment and harvest. Pray for our country,

for our youth. Legalization of marijuana has brought greater numbers of traffic accidents, deaths and numbers of youth

partaking of the drug, which is documented for the brain damage it brings during the younger years.

 

Thanksgiving is my preferred subject this month. I’m sure you saw that coming. It is based on a Scriptural command,

for our health and wellbeing: "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

(1 Thessalonians 5:18) It is traditionally linked to the harvest in North America. It is good to be grateful for the

abundance of food we have, both in praying before eating at every meal, no matter where you are, and in this holiday,

where we particularly note how blessed we are in regard to food availability. This is not true worldwide, as you know.

 

I believe Thanksgiving should be a season, rather than a day. In the liturgical calendar, we are technically on

"normal time" between Pentecost, usually in early June until Advent in December (or the Sunday before). Wouldn’t it

be great to start our church year and school year in September with a Season of Thanksgiving that would conclude with

mid to late November, and the Sunday before Advent? I’ve suggested this in other congregations, what I sometimes call

my "one man mission." Of course, we can be thankful to God year round, and increase an attitude of gratitude year round.

 

But may be this year we can continue to extend the grateful season, and put some of the energies we often put into

other holidays into this one. (And Reformation Sunday is good too, but that’s for another time.)

 

All the best to you this October,

 

Pastor Jonathan