A fat baby waves its arms in protest as it is handed from young mother to doting friend. Padded winter gear in pastel tones engulf the chubby cheeks, neck, belly, and legs. The frigid Denver temperatures only accentuate the festive mood inside the warm church’s annual holiday season gift sale. The new mother continues to wrestle with a gift purse, while clutching diaper bag on her other shoulder. Baby stares wide-eyed at the shiny Christmas ornaments, bedazzled jewelry, and greenery garlands.
I turn away from the merry scene, my heart not quite ready to join in the winter cheer. Today, a touch of emptiness wants to creep back in. Whispers of want and desire . . . perhaps even a touch of envy . . . try to wheedle their way into my heart. I reach for my antidote, clutching wildly for truth. Grasping and clinging, I find it.
A perfect harmony.
A resounding melody.
Gratitude. Thanksgiving. Grace. Joy.
I have purposed to give thanks. To count my blessings one by one, savoring the beauty before all is turned to ashes. To rejoice in Christ’s gifts. To usher in the miraculous. To make way for life and life abundant.
I begin to count. One. By. One. Letting the memories of the day and God’s goodness be a balm to my spirit.
As I do, I meditate on the words of Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts and her commentary on the significance of Communion. For right now, I am using it as a devotional of sorts, allowing the truth she has found to resonate with my own spirit and with the words the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me for a very long time. Basking, I allow the message to wash over me . . .
“‘On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces . . .’ (1 Corinthians 11:23-24). . . .Facing the abandonment of God Himself (does it get any worse than this?), Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break Him and crush Him and wound Him and yield a bounty of joy (chara). The mystery always contains more mysteries.” (p. 24)
By the time I have reached this page in One Thousand Gifts, Voskamp has already dug into the meaning of the word eucharisteo, Greek for the “table of communion” or even more literally “he gave thanks.” This is the word used by the apostles to describe Christ’s symbolic act during the Last Supper. One of the last acts of healing. The last giving of thanks.
According to Voskamp and a Greek lexicon, 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” (p. 21). As I keep reading, I understand that “Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also hold its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning ‘joy'” (p. 21-22).
Thanksgiving. Grace. Joy
Acceptance of suffering.
Acceptance of sacrifice.
Jesus Christ wounded and broken for me. Jesus Christ offering me grace and joy at the table of thanksgiving. Gratitude for wounds. Gratitude for brokenness. Impartation of joy.
Take. Eat. This is My Body. This is My Pain. This is My Joy.
I’m taking today. I’m eating today. He bore my pain. He offers me joy.
All in the harmony of grace. At the table of thanksgiving.