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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Courage To Give Thanks

"Thank you for this bread," Jesus said. "Thank you for this cup." It was the last supper, and the thank you's were supernatural. They were not the words one would expect to hear in the context of His body soon to be consumed as the bread, broken and given to His disciples. Or of His blood soon to be poured out as He poured the fruit of the vine into the cup for them to drink. Not in the context of planned betrayals, certain denials, murderous plots, and crucifixion. Neither would a song, a hymn not a dirge, be expected after all that. And coming from the lips of the one whose body and blood it would be?

And what about His disciples? Jesus had told them what was going to happen to Him...and why. One might have expected a thank you from them. A "Thank You for shedding Your blood for the remission of our sins!" But grave sorrows cast shadows, and the shadows were deep that night. Night shadows crept across the table and Thank-You may have been whispering it's name in the shadows, but could not be heard.

Yet, oh, had Sorrow and Shadow not muffled Thank-You, would they not have seen a finger of light pointing across the table to Jesus? Dividing the light from the darkness? The day from the night? Life from death? Righteousness from sin? Blood from blood? Covenant from covenant? Dividing, like a sword,  soul and spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intents of the heart?" Would they not have seen in this very night "of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death" (Hebrews 5:7), Jesus? And linked arms with Thank-You and called out it's name when Jesus told them, "You will be scattered. But I will be raised and I'll meet you in Galilee when this is all over"?

"Thank-You is right there!" I want to call out to them. But they don't hear.

They say, "No! No we will not be scattered! We will not be made to stumble! Even if we have to die with You, we will not!"

"Y'all aren't making any sense!" I cry out. "How do you expect to meet Him on the shores of Galilee when He's raised, if you are dead?!?"

Well, indeed. Easy to say from the side-lines, but I've been in the fray with them. And it breaks my heart to hear my own voice in the reverberations of theirs. And I don't want to hear my voice with theirs. I want, oh Jesus I want, to hear my voice harmonizing, courageously with Yours. In the hymn.

Jesus has dipped His hand into the core center of my heart and brought to the table what is ripe in me. Fear that makes my blood run icy. Anger that makes my blood run hot. That "No! I'm above doing that, God!", self-righteousness. Insecurity that  leaves me hyper-sensitive. Pain that numbs all feeling. And, yes, an ingrate before the last strain of the hymn leaves my lips.

Scattered. In a wilderness of my own. Wanting to go back to that table. To take the bread. Drink the cup. All in remembrance of Him.

And to say thank You.

Then I want to sing the hymn, in my  wilderness place.

Remember the disciples.

Remember Sorrow and Shadow and then...

Link arms with Thank-You and call out it's name...

And head for the shore where Jesus will be waiting.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

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