(An Article for the September 1996 Deep Cove Crier)
On Guard For TheeI bring you greetings from Mickey and Minnie! Having just driven thousands of miles to and back from Disneyland, I feel more grateful than ever for this beautiful land of Canada that we live in. The L.A. Freeways are an interesting modern metaphor for hell: they go on for ever, and there seems to be no way out. In returning to the Seymour/Deep Cove area, I was once again struck by the irreplaceable beauty all around us, the trees, mountains, and beaches, precious gifts from our Creator.
With all that we have going for us, you might think that Canadians would be among the most thankful and joyful people in the world. Yet we are often more known for our grumbling and our inability to resolve conflict. Edgardo Silvoso, a speaker from Argentina, said that one of the greatest strengths of Canadians is our gentleness. It makes us welcome in many parts of the world where other more aggressive nationalities are less accepted. Silvoso believes that our greatest weaknesses lie in the underbelly of our greatest strengths. The weakness hidden within our Canadian strength of gentleness, said Silvoso, is ambivalence. As Canadians, he said, we need to value our gift of gentleness, but add to that the gifts of boldness and decisiveness.
I believe that we can learn for our original Canadian forebears in the area of gratefulness and decisiveness. Our Canadian founders knew who they were, and why they were there in Canada. In 1535, Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. To commemorate the founding of Montreal, Cartier wrote in his diary "...we all kneeled down in the company of the Indians and with our hands raised toward heaven yielded our thanks to God." Canada from its earliest beginnings was based on thankfulness to God for all his good gifts.
Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, a Father of Confederation and twice the Lt.
Governor of New Brunswick, rose each morning to start his day with prayer and Scripture reading. As the 33 Fathers gathered in Charlottetown to discuss and draft the terms of the British North America Act, there were many suggestions on what to call this new "United Canada". That morning, as Tilley read from Psalm 72:8, he became so convinced that Canada should be a nation under God, that when he came down to the Conference session, he presented the inspired "Dominion of Canada". The other Fathers readily agreed and accepted. Today the following words hang in the corridor near the Confederation Chamber in Province House: "In the hearts of the delegates who assembled in this room on September 1, 1864, was born the Dominion of Canada. Providence being their guide, they builded better than they knew."
Dr. Bruce Gordon, Canadian President of Focus on the Family, recently reminded me that Canadaís official motto comes from Psalm 72:8 "He shall have dominion from sea to sea." For most of our Canadian history, Canada Day (July 1st) has been called Dominion Day in recognition that God is in charge of Canada. Wherever you turn in Canada, you bump into God. Even our Canadian coat of arms includes a specific reference to the sovereignty of God. This Latin phrase on our coat of arms "A Mari Usque Ad Mare" means "from sea to sea", drawn once again straight from Psalm 72:8.
In 1960, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights. It begins with, "The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God." What is it that makes Canadians great? It is our heritage of thankfulness to a supreme Creator. A thankful people are a creative industrious people. In 1981, Pierre Elliott Trudeau signed his name to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter begins, "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law." As we as Canadians boldly reaffirm the supremacy of God over Canada, then Canada will once again become known as a thankful and decisive nation. God has given each of us so much. Why not do a bold thing today, and thank God for all his wonderful gifts in Canada and our local Deep Cove community?
The Rev. Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simonís Anglican Church
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St. Simon's Anglican Church
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