RAMA - With an entire weekend focused on horses at the PALS Draft Horse Field Days in Rama on the Aug. 26-27 weekend, the Cowboy Church Service had a heavenly feel to it.
The service got underway with a moving rendition of Amazing Grace led by Nancy Genoway (vocals), Sheldon Landstad (guitar, mandolin & vocals), Judy Johnson (vocals) and Ed Livingston (vocals).
Livingston is from Caron, which is near Moose Jaw, and was also the guest speaker for the service.
"Thank you very much, it really is an honour to be asked to speak today,” he said.
'When a friend of mine heard I was speaking today, the first thing out of his mouth was, 'No matter what you do, keep it under 20 minutes.’”
Livingston led those at the service in the Lord’s Prayer, and then admitted that he really misses the family farm, “especially the barn and the stalls. In fact, during COVID-19 restrictions, we used the barn for church services. Horses have pretty much always been a part of my life.”
He shared that he and his wife have recently attended quite a few funerals, including one for a wife who had left behind a young husband.
“A couple of these funerals were essentially Godless,” said Livingston. “I didn't come away from those funerals with much hope. This got me thinking about heaven. Everyone here today probably has a somewhat different view of heaven. Most of our views of heaven come from the Bible, from church, songs, our parents, famous artists. Those images often include the pearly gates and clouds, which is quite different from modern culture.
“Pop culture suggests our wishes will come true in heaven, but doesn't really talk about it being God's dwelling place. Modern culture puts the self in the centre instead of putting God at the centre. For instance, the old movie Field of Dreams suggests heaven is like a cornfield.
“In the Old Testament, heaven was seen as unattainable, people couldn't access God. Another image of heaven involves a bright light, which contributes to the sense that God is unattainable, or that heaven is behind a curtain.”
Livingston went on to add that in the New Testament, after Jesus died on the Cross and then was resurrected on the third day, things changed.
“Jesus came to earth as one of us, and he is now what I like to refer to as the 'access code' to God in heaven. God is no longer inaccessible. Another image of heaven is that of Jesus being an eclipse that comes in front of that bright light, as the 'access code' to God. I like that.”
Livingston then shared a scripture passage from 1 Corinthians 2:9- “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
“We all may have differing views of God and heaven,” continued Livingston. “Don't feel bad if you can't imagine heaven. One thing we know for sure, you and I can be holy, but only through Jesus.”
Livingston referred back to the old barn on the family farm as a comparison to heaven.
“Our horses thought I was their 'access code' for getting into the barn. I was the only way for them to get in there. Not one horse knew how much oats the other was getting, or anything else about any of the other horses.”
Livingston led the gathering in prayer.
"Thank you God for this beautiful day, for friends and for horses. Please help that the words I have spoken will help people dwell on you."
After the sermon, the musicians took over the service. Songs included: Mansion Over The Hilltop, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Church in the Wildwood, How Great Thou Art, I'll Fly Away, I saw the Light, and Will the Circle be Unbroken.
Judy Johnson shared A Farmer's Prayer.
“Lord bless this land you've given me
And may I always know
As I tend each crop and animal
You're the one that helps them grow
Grant me the strength and wisdom
Please protect me from all harm
And thank you Lord for this precious gift
The blessing of my farm.”
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