October 15, 2009
This past weekend was thanksgiving. I hope that it was a restful, and meaningful, time for you. Of all our holidays, this one especially reminds me of our Christian roots and sentiments. It is truly a good thing to be thankful.
In fact, thankfulness is really quite necessary. Everyone who goes on a spiritual quest intuitively recognizes this. Alanis Morissette may be typical of the spiritual seeker who flirts with thankfulness, at least she has in one of her songs. Following her popular angry album of the 90’s, Jagged Little Pill, Morissette turned east in the attempt to find her soul. So she sang, “Thank you India, thank you providence, thank you silence”. It was her attempt at escaping the corrosion of soul that comes when one lives endlessly in anger and complaint. Morissette wanted to find that connection with the unseen but underlying grace that is everywhere. But listening to her, I find her thankfulness ultimately empty and futile, for she has no one to thank but the impersonal “all” of the eastern worldview. How can one thank the cosmos? In contrast, the Biblical model directs our thankfulness towards the infinite-personal God. Our thanksgiving is thanks to God, our way to say “we are awake to all of your good gifts and graces”. And most especially, we are thankful for Jesus.
And this is why the Eucharist has remained at the heart of Christian worship for all these generations. Eucharist is derived from the Greek work eucharisteo, and literally means gratitude or thanksgiving. The next time you eat of the bread and drink of the cup, rouse yourself to be fully awake to what you are doing -- you are saying “thank you”, and you are saying it to the one who has given you life and grace.
Eugene Peterson’s rendition of Psalm 100:4 may help. Psalm 100 is a thanksgiving psalm, teaching us how to come before God in worship. And while there is a very large and important teaching in the Bible about how we can learn to express our complaints to God, there is an equally large teaching on how important it is to express our thankfulness to him. So as we come to the place of worship, we “Enter with the password: "Thank you!" (Psalm 100:4, The Message Bible). Think of that line as you walk through our doors this Sunday.
Finally, let me remind you about the Community Update gathering, taking place this Tuesday, October 20. This is a chance for us to consider our next steps as a community. If you follow the link provided here, you can hear what our lead pastor, Chris Wiersma, intends for that evening: http://www.wkc.org/community-update09