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Friday, January 24, 2014

Eucharisteo

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pin and write.” –Martin Luther

Just before His betrayal and suffering on the cross, Jesus had Passover with his disciples. At the table He breaks bread with the twelve knowing the chief priests and scribes were on the hunt, conjuring up a way to arrest him that very hour.

The scriptures say, “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

In the original language “he gave thanks” reads eucharisteo, which means thanksgiving. The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning grace; while its derivative in Greek is chara meaning joyThis ONE word - eucharisteo - encompasses a literary progression of giving thanks, finding grace and experiencing joy! Wow, what a word!

This giving of thanks is not expressed by Jesus because there is a wedding ceremony, a child to be born, the healing of a loved one or a financial breakthrough. It’s the thanksgiving just before betrayal, just before unbearable suffering on the cross.

It’s the gratitude preceding the unknown of the word cancer, the response that your baby’s heart in the womb is not beating, the grabbing tightly to the pillow with tears as another friend finds her soul mate and another has her third child while you struggle to understand why you must live alone without a date in years. It’s giving thanks for the time you had together when the phone rings and your son is not coming home from war. It is the strongest and most humble of souls that can look up to the heavens and find a way to glorify God when life bears terrible news again.

Eucharisteo is also the gratitude that is given just before the miracle. Jesus gave eucharisteo, thanks to the Father, even while the stone was being rolled away and the lifeless body of Lazarus showed no sign of life. Gratitude to the Father empowered the words…. “Lazarus, come forth!”

Then there is the eucharisteo seen most often. We are all very familiar with the gratefulness that follows evident blessings in our lives. But I believe there is an even deeper thanksgiving that can follow these answered prayers. Recall the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17 as he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee into a secluded village where these outcasts suffered. They were all healed and yet only one returned….just one.

The scriptures say, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.” So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’v15-17.

Made well is sozo in Greek. Sozo is translated wholeness or Salvation! This one leper gave glory to God NOT glory to his healing. His was an understanding that what he really needed was a Healer, not to just be healed. Sozo is the awareness deep in your soul that you need a Savior. When you were given what you thought would save you and it didn’t; this is where salvation and wholeness can be found.

I want to share a book with you that recently took my soul by storm. The book is called “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. The first few pages begin with a tragic story. Ann and her family watched her younger sister get hit and run over by a truck on a dirt road just outside their farm house. Although now a grown woman with several children, she re-visits that terrible scene often in her memory and a dark cloud finds itself hovering over her daily routines. As she seeks God’s healing power, He challenges her with a unique task. One thousand gifts was a challenge to make a list of one thousand every day gifts.

Her sister’s death had created a shade of ingratitude over her life. Faced with this self destructive habit of thanklessness and reaching for more, Ann finds her soul daring her to make a gift list. What initially seemed as small as a seed eventually bloomed into her greatest joy. She takes her pin and decides to describe simple things. The unexpected is sometimes glorious and beautiful. In Ann’s life, eucharisteo was the choice to bend her knees and hold the dirt in her hands on the very road where her little sister was broken and give thanks for her brief life.

A habit of giving praise and thanks can only be cultivated by the pen of remembrance. Jesus said “Remember Me” and what better way to remember who He was and is than through placing ink to the parchment and daily giving thanks to the Father? Give gratitude, even if it is just for the smell of clean sheets from the dryer, getting splashed by your child in the pool, or the smell of coffee from the kitchen. Developing the habit of recording the beauty in both the meaningful and seemingly meaningless can bring salvation to the soul. And so Ann’s pen begins to list the gifts….

1. Morning shadows across old wooden floors
2. Strawberry jam piled high on toast
3. Cry of a blue jay perched high on the spruce

“One thousand gifts” – the title - begins to make sense and my soul feels the warmth of the sun on this cold January morning as I begin to think of my own list.

I think of two beloved movies that captured this simple truth. We relate so well to “It’s a Wonderful Life” around Christmas time for this very reason. George finds his salvation in what he already has as he declares “Isn’t it wonderful I’m going to jail, Merry Christmas everyone!” Nothing had changed but his perspective had. It’s found again in “The Sound of Music”. Maria understood this healing ministry of eucharisteo well as she serenaded the Von Trapp children into overcoming their fears by reminding them to set their thoughts on good things.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens 
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens 
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Perhaps we are all only a few grateful thoughts away from our joy we can’t find in the mundane of every day. Because we are so distracted, we can’t see that it is nothing BUT mundane. In our brief journey here eucharisteo teaches us to gaze a little longer at the red robin and the food on our plate. We listen more keenly to the flap of the laundry on the line and the squeaking of the old swing on the front porch. Cricket’s chirping at night becomes a symphony and the long drive becomes an opportunity for prayer. The rain tapping on the window isn’t coupled with a complaint about how “it’s about time” but is rejoiced over as the withered grass is refreshed. Eucharisteo can come before the storm and after, but its end is the same – salvation, wholeness and joy.  

I’m picking out a journal today; it will stay in my purse and go where I go because the list needs to become a habit. I’m encouraging you to do the same. We all have one thousand gifts and the free offer of the greatest of them all – Salvation in Christ Jesus. A gift is something you just receive. Have you received the gift Jesus purchased for you on the cross at Calvary? It is wrapped in his broken body and covered in the His blood. A well of living water pours out continually to this day into the thirsty mouths of those with thankful hearts that come back, fall at His feet like the one leper and eucharisteo – give thanks.

When fears seep into your thoughts, perhaps you will you dig out that list and add to it....

#32 Bacon fryin on grandma’s stove…

If it doesn’t work out with the next relationship maybe you’ll write down number 56…

#56 Mom called today just to say she loves me…

And if the word stillborn, dead or cancer finds its way into your home, find the courage to write number 77…

#77 Red words in my bible this morning….


“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and Be Thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3: 14-17


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