Monday, November 21, 2011

Real Thanksgiving

Merriam Webster defines thanksgiving as, “the act of giving thanks” or “an expression of gratitude.”  Middle English eukarist, from Anglo-French eukariste, from Late Latin eucharistia, from Greek, Eucharist, gratitude, from eucharistos grateful, from eu- + charizesthai to show favor, from charis favor, grace, gratitude; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice .   Eucharisteo in the Christian faith is known as the Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper.  It is the great table of Thanksgiving.  The Eucharist is the heart and soul of the believer’s life.  Without the actual death and resurrection of Jesus Christ it is nothing more than a symbolic religious ritual.  The table holds two elements to the believer; the first being the bread representing Christ’s body. The very substance to life: bread.  The second is the wine or cup representing Christ’s blood. The blood poured out for my sins and the sins of the world.  We eat and drink, swallowing down our thankfulness for the price paid by God’s only son: Christ Jesus.
I’ve been reading a book called, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  In her book she dives into the hidden treasures found in un-wrapping the gift of Eurcharisteo.  Her faith journey is similar to mine. Questions about this Christ life, faith, injustices, marriage, kids; yet our paths maybe different the desire to see God, know Him, to embrace His goodness in the midst of this “life” is the same.  I often have wondered if anyone else on this planet thinks like me.  Is anyone else willing to ask the hard questions and actually go on this crazy quest to find the answers and then talk about the journey?  To discover how to unlock the treasure chest of this abundant life is a journey worth taking.  This book has stirred my faith, getting right at the heart of my ingratitude, discontentment and lack of zeal to live fully in Christ. The Word has a way of piercing through the clutter.  Her poetic way with words on the page with pen stabbing deep pierces my soul.  The faith journey can always go deeper.  Christ always has more for us, but we must learn it.  Paul refers to this when he states, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13) Ann Voskamp lays out how our faith must reflect thankfulness, “we can only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks.”  Just like the one leper out of ten who returned to say thank you.  Jesus’ response in Luke 17:17-19, “your faith has healed you.”  Voskamp explains how when we choose to be thankful for what Christ has done our very salvation is being worked out. Going the extra mile, “Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our yes: to His grace.”  She goes on to say, “The act of sacrificing thank offerings to God, even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion – this prepares the way for God to show us His fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from sin that estranges us from Him.”  So I ponder.  Yes I can thank him for the communion table and for cancer (and yes it hurts); for His death on a tree and for all my sins and the sins of this world.
So the next question one must ask is how then do you have the ability to really thank God for something like cancer?  Because it’s cancer and it’s literally killing me from the inside out and the chemo is poison running in my veins.  Psalm 50:23 sheds some light to my dark question, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” The hard part comes in everyday living.  I want to be happy, content, and even joyful.  I like Paul, am learning thankfulness in all circumstances (cancer?).  Voskamp gives us a dare – a dare to list, to name gifts that are before our very eyes.  Every perfect gift comes from the Father.  These gifts describe his love in the beauty around us amongst the depravity and chaos in this world.  But one must choose the hard Eucharisteo way.  So I begin recording and naming the gifts.  Is this not the first job of Adam in the perfect garden? Naming…when something has a name it has meaning, identity and therefore we can assign credit to the Creator for making it.  So I have begun the list of one thousand gifts.  I struggle to see the “God glory” around my chaos of dogs, cats, cows, boots, coats, Lego’s, Hot Wheels, laundry, bills…but I discover what Voskamp has discovered: pure charis – joy! Joy comes in the naming.  Naming is the way to abundant living in Christ, to always be thankful.  “Deep chara joy is only found at the table of Eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving. “
And so I list:
1.   Kittens purring
2.    Stars in the sky
3.   Fresh eggs from the coop
4.   Red sun rising
5.   Clean sheets on the bed
1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Voskamp continues, “Like every day. Whenever we eat.  Eucharisteo – whenever: now, joy.   Wherever: here.” 
6.   Dog tail thumping on the wood floor
7.   Laughter
8.   Feather pillows
9.   Silence in the early morning
10.   Holding hands for prayer
The list goes on like my faith journey.  I embrace Eucharisteo intentionally with eyes only God can give.  I have reason to be thankful and I see it clearly now.  It’s all around me.  His love envelopes my world. How did I not see it before? This I can name: real thanksgiving.
11.   Real Thanksgiving
If you want to learn more about Ann Voskamp visit her blog at: or

Also, check out the posting of this devotional on Stonecroft's website: To Inspire You

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