Thursday, July 31, 2014
Eucharisteo. Before you run away, let me break it down. I didn't know that word, either. I thought it meant taking communion at church. That's eucharist. But, "eucharisteo" is the full word meaning "thanksgiving".
In everything give thanks (1 Thess 5:18). I've quoted that many times. Do I do it? I write thank you notes, even though they aren't as common anymore. I get my kids to write thank you notes, too. It's more than that.
Thanksgiving - the time we sit around and eat a really big turkey, everyone hoping that I picked out a big enough bird so that there will be leftovers for the whole next week. We go around the table and say what we are thankful for. Our family, our home, our country, our good school. It's more than that.
During the past year the ladies at my church read the book, "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. I work on Thursday mornings so I couldn't be part of the book club. Then, a few weeks before the end of the school year my friend said, "Have you read One Thousand Gifts yet? You should. It's not easy but it's good. And it will be good for you."
I just finished chapter 2. Voskamp asked me (because clearly this book was written just for me!), "How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?" She shares about reading the title of the book that she noticed another lady reading while she was at the hairdresser's, "1000 Places to See Before You Die." Voskamp goes on to question if that is the secret of life. She asks, "Is that it? Are there physical places that simply must be seen before I stop breathing within time, before I inhale eternity? Why? To say that I've had reason to bow low? To say that I've seen beauty? To say that I've been arrested by wonder?" And this next line is the kicker... "Isn't it here? Can't I find it here?"
Me too. That's what I need to ask too. Why do I dream of seeing the world or living somewhere else? Why do I think that if I stop trying to "get ahead" and just be grateful for right here and right now that I have given up? I have been blessed. Beyond measure - blessed. Way beyond anything I deserve. The Bible clearly states that I deserve death, "For the wages of sin is death" Thankfully the verse doesn't stop there, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23". But without the gift of Jesus it would be death for me.
So why do people think they "deserve" so much. I hear it all the time: "So glad you could take that trip, you deserve it." or "Get the dessert, you deserve it!" huh? How about this one, "Who cares if the mortgage is more than you can afford, you DESERVE it!" Why in the world do people deserve things they can't afford or don't work for? I don't get that.
That brings me back to thanksgiving. I choose to live in thanksgiving today. Whatever the day may bring, it is a gift. Jesus gave thanks on the night that he was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23). How could he do that? He said "thank you" when he knew what was coming the next day. When the 10 lepers were healed, only one came back to thank Jesus. And it was the Samaritan - the foreigner. Jesus said to him, "Rise and go, your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:19). As Voskamp points out, Jesus had already healed him, so what is this bit about his faith making him well? She goes on to say that "well" refers to being "whole" or "saved" from the Greek word "sozo" which means salvation. "It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might live life to the full. He came to give us sozo." The leper that came back to say thank you received sozo at that moment. That's the moment that we receive a full life, a healed and whole life - when we live in thanksgiving.
Earlier this week, during family Bible reading, my kids asked for the 10 Commandments because they had been learning them at my parents' house the previous week. So, I opened up to Exodus 20 and read the chapter. That is a passage of scripture that I have read a hundred times, maybe a thousand times, but it still jumps out at me when the words "do not covet" come off the page. Don't look at what someone else has and think, "They are so lucky. They don't deserve that as much as I do. Why did God bless them that way and not me?" Busted! And my head and heart need to be retweaked. Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you God for everything. Really, do I need more than that? He has given us this day, and our daily bread, so say thank you and believe it.
Eucharisteo = thanksgiving. Charis = grace. Chara = joy.
Living a life of thanksgiving will ultimately bring with it grace and joy. They are part of the same word.