Faith Holidays

Thanks Giving

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

As we prepare to gather around our Thanksgiving tables, together with our loved ones, I hope our gratitudes lists would roll off the table.

…think of a scroll, not word document.

My dear friend Alexis, gave me a book in 2012 by Ann Voskamp.

1000 Gifts

The book was very heavy to my newly Christian heart, but I loved the passion Alexis had for Gratitude. Seeing her live through gratitude, I pressed on through it. I chewed on it, a chapter per month, letting it sink in fully.

Letting the words resonate.

The book is beautiful, it is. And after 7 years of chewing on it, chapter by chapter, month by month, year by year. I finished it this month.

There is so much goodness in it.

And there is one thing in particular I want to share with you. It’s about Eucharisteo.

Sounds a lot like the word Eucharist, doesn’t it? The Eucharist is given to Catholics during communion.

In mass the bread and wine are believed to be the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

(I honestly struggled with this.)

They are blessed and Holy. If one wafer of Eucharist falls on the ground the Priest (or a Lay Eucharistic Minister) must pick it up and eat it.

No one may remove the Eucharist from the church. For fear of someone taking Jesus’s body to torture it. Hence, the way you step to the right and eat the eucharist in front of the priest.

I have always loved communion. Yes, I have admitted that I loved it when I was little for the chance to move around and eat something. But, as I grew so did my love for the sacrament.

I loved the way we all rise as a community, and join in something together. I loved the interaction between people.

I loved the way my Dad would stand back and we would filter out of the pew in front of him. The children first, then my Mom, and then my Dad. It always felt protective, and chivalrous when he did it.

And now when Derek lets us filter out before him (as his father also did), my heart fills with gratitude for Derek. For the way he loves me.

When I started reading 1000 Gifts, years ago, communion changed yet again for me.

The author writes in chapter two:

Jesus, the God-Man who came to save me from prisons of fear and guilt and depression and sadness. With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?

“An he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…” (Luke 22:19 NIV)

I read it slowly. In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”

…The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.

But there is more, and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds it derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Joy. Ah yes. I might be needing more of that.

…That has always been the goal of the fullest life — joy.

… Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo — the table of thanksgiving. I sit there long… wondering… is it that simple?

Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?

So then as long as thanks is possible… then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning — now; wherever, meaning — here.

… I whisper it out loud, let the tongue feel these sounds, the ear hear their truth.

Charis. Grace

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Chara. Joy.

…Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo.

A Greek word… that might make the meaning of everything?

In the margins of my book, written in purple it reads, “This changes communion/the eucharist. This changes everything”.

It did change everything.

And it did change communion.

My thoughts changed on gratitude. I used to practice gratitude in passing. Meaning, I would say in conversation, “I’m thankful for this…” but I never sat down and listed gratitudes. I never counted all the ways God is glorified in the little things. All the gifts he gives me in the hard places, and in the easy moments.

I never sought for those gratitudes in the storm, the ones that ground you back to the goodness of God.

I never used gratitude as an act of worship. I never connected it to joy.

It was unemotional.

When it should be all emotional, all consuming. Daily.

The book continues:

Jesus didn’t institute the Eucharist around some unusual, rare, once-a-year event, but around this continual act of eating a slice of bread, drinking a cup of fruit from the vine. First Corinthians 11:26 reads, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup” (NIV) —whenever.

So, this means I can come to the altar and share in Eucharisteo every day. Jesus is my daily bread and I need to be thankful for that magnificent gift, daily.

And now, on Sundays, communion is an act of worship, it’s a way of giving thanks.

Before Oliver was born we served communion for a few years at church, and I loved it. I loved the way each person got to hear, “Christ body was broken for you,” and “Christ’s blood was shed for you,” before taking the bread and dipping it in the juice.

This. This is what we give thanks for.

Christ’s body. His Blood.

Shed for me. …Shed for you.

To forgive me of my sins- so, yes, yes, yes, the response is thank you, Jesus. And when the thanks is given, the chara does flood in.

When my heart is full of joy and thanksgiving, I am able to connect with Him and glorify Him. I am more equipped to be an example of His love for us.

So, next Thursday, on this rare, once-a-year event, I hope you pause. And not only list gratitudes, but feel the gratitude.

Feel the joy for the gifts God has given you in that room. The gifts He gives you daily.

And I challenge you to stop using your Thanksgiving Gratitude Lists only one month out of the year. Use them every month, every day.

Let gratitude spill out of you. Let it transform those awful days and moments into joyful ones. Let those gratitudes become your worship and your connection to God.

I promise you, it does change everything.

Friends, Happy Thanks Giving. Next week and everyday.

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