In the USA, we have just celebrated the holiday of
Thanksgiving. The traditions observed on Thanksgiving don’t have associations
with the bible or Christianity, but “giving thanks” is most certainly a
biblical idea. In fact most Christians, whether or not they live in America,
celebrate a form of “thanksgiving” more often than they realize.
A Christian celebration that most of us are familiar with is
Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Some churches call this “The Eucharist,” which
comes from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning – you guessed it – “thanksgiving.” So wherever and whoever we are, when
we take the symbols of the blood and body of Jesus, we are truly giving thanks
and celebrating our life in Christ.
Here is something else you may find interesting. As you
probably know, the ceremony of communion has its roots in the Jewish Passover.
Part of the traditional Passover celebration is a hymn called Dayenu. Essentially, the Hebrew word Dayenu means, “It would have been enough
for us.” It is sung as a response after merciful and saving acts of God are
recalled from the Hebrew bible – events like the parting of the Red Sea, the
giving of the Sabbath, or the completion of the temple. There are fifteen
stanzas sang in all. The idea behind the hymn is that if God gave Israel just
one of these blessings, “it would have been enough.”
Those physical interventions in the history of ancient
Israel are not part of our modern history, but they do give us a
wonderful reminder of God’s saving actions in our lives today. Just as God
saved Israel in the parting of the Red Sea, he has saved us from drowning in
sinfulness. Just as he gave Israel the Sabbath, he has given us rest in a new
life in Christ. And just as he completed the temple by taking up residence in
it, he now lives in us. We too can say, “If he had only given us one of these
blessings, it would have been enough.”
Our national day of Thanksgiving is a good
time for us to stop and think about how often we should say “Dayenu” when we
think of what God has done for us.
Jesus went to the
Cross, where he was crucified, died, and buried. But, he then rose from the
grave, defeating death – inviting us to follow and do the same. He ascended to
the Father and is taking us with him.
And God continues to do more! It did not stop with the
Incarnation of Jesus, or the miracles Jesus performed while on Earth. In the
life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God did not just do what needed to be
done for us, he continues to do all that
can possibly be done to secure our salvation.
I believe God is always moving and moves beyond our
imaginations. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
God does “more than we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). So just as Israel
sang a rising crescendo of thanksgiving with “Dayenu”, let gratitude be our crescendo for
the one who is worthy of our praise.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of Life.