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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jesus Gave Thanks

"What's the worst thing that could happen?" It's a question meant to give perspective and ease our worries. "It's not as bad as it seems." Most often it's not. But, is. Sometimes it is as bad as it seemed it could be. The flesh and bones tough stuff worse than we could have imagined. But is this so bad? "No," I dare say, while my own  flesh pulls away from the answer. Still, in the spirit I say "no" for my flesh to hear. "It's not as bad as it seems." At least, it doesn't have to be. Because of two divine words, "Thank you."

"And as they were eating, Jesus took the bread, and gave thanks....Then He took the cup, and gave thanks..." (Matthew 26:26-27). He gave His disciples something to chew on while they were still swallowing what tasted of betrayal. Swallowing the "Is it I" insecurity and sorrow. "Am I capable of betraying You?" Each one asked it. "I dipped my hand into the dish with You!"

I get the feeling Jesus was reaching His hand into other dishes. Clay pots sitting around the table. It's what He does. He dips His hand into the very core of our hearts. And what's in the core? Seeds. They've been there since Eden. "Did God really say...?" Doubt. "Is He withholding the best from you?" Discontent. "Maybe He's not as good as you thought." The seeds were planted and unthankfulness took root.

Jesus has a way of peeling back the layers, getting to the core and bringing to the table what is there. What we are capable of. What is ripe in us. He placed it on the table in front of His disciples. He would be betrayed by one, denied by the others, stricken by the sin of all, and all scattered because of this. He knew what was coming. He knew, too, what the worst thing was that could happen, and it was not that He would be crucified while He was still in His body attatched to every nerve and cell; and it was not that His Father was going to forsake Him. The worst thing that could happen was not even that He would take upon Himself the sins of the world, become sin for us, and descend into hell for three days. Certainly this all was worse than He could have imagined while He reached for the bread and cup at the table. Worse than He imagined when in His distress sweat poured like blood; when He fell on His face prostrated by sorrow. And when He prayed, "Oh. My. Father. If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me."

He could have called down more than twelve legions of angels, and rescued Himself. Could have picked up the cup, then set it down and said, "No, thank you." That would have been the worst thing that could have happened.

But, no..."A body You have prepared for Me," He said when He came into this wild world that I am in. "Thank You for this bread." Heart-stopping words. "I have come to do Your will. Thank You for this cup," poured out of His mouth. Thanksgiving broke and spilled at the table. It preceded His passion, punctured the cross before the nails pierced, and was what punctuated His last words, "Forgive them, Father."

It takes courage to say "Thank you." And love. It is a word that reaches long across sorrow, grief,insecurity, fear, pain, even sin and death. It is a wilderness word that I am learning to pronounce. An exhaled sacrifice I am learning to breathe. It asks nothing. Only accepts. He said, "Thank you," and rescued us. Even the likes of seedy me.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

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