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November 26, 2007

The Great Thanksgiving

Judas In many Christian traditions, the Lord's Supper is referred to as the Eucharist, or the Great Thanksgiving. This past weekend something struck me about that final meal that hadn't ever leapt out to me in quite that way before.

Can you think back to a time in your life when you felt most betrayed and abandoned? When your friends turned their backs on you?

As I thought about the final meal Jesus shared with the disciples, I realized that perhaps of all the memories Jesus has of His life on earth, aside from the actual crucifixion and trial, this one might be one of the most painful. He sees Judas leave the table. He knows his intentions. He hears Peter's words of promise. He knows they are false.

And yet, this moment He institutes to be remembered to be re-played for ages to come. And instead of a moment of betrayal, this memory becomes one infused with new meaning. The Eucharist is ultimately a reconciliation moment. A moment when those who had been traitors, and we who had also been traitors, come to the table again, this time with the price of our betrayal paid for us. The table becomes a place of former enemies sitting down in reconciled community.

This is not the first time God does this. In the Old Testament also, in Hosea, He says to Israel, "I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope" (2:15). You may recall the Valley of Achor was the place where Achan sinned against God by taking of what was not his to take. I wonder how God might transform our own most painful memories. Could the moments of our deepest sorrow and greatest hurt be transformed into symbols of hope? Could reconciliation even alter the painful landscape of memory?

I think so. This Thanksgiving as I took of the bread and wine, I thanked God for being a God who changes the bitterest things into things of blessing. And I looked with renewed hope for how He might transform even more in the landscape of past pain into a vista of His goodness.

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"Could the moments of our deepest sorrow and greatest hurt be transformed into symbols of hope? Could reconciliation even alter the painful landscape of memory?"

Absolutely. As we get healed from our past, we become more whole. As we move through and into wholeness, we move into our destiny, which is helping other become whole. There is not a glimmer of doubt in my mind that Christ uses the pain of our past to allow us to reach out to others that are in the place we used to be. We can reach out and be the face of God to a hurt person, a wounded family, an injured city, and ultimately a dying world.

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