Every month I celebrate a 12 Step Eucharist with our local Recovery community. There’s one line in the liturgy that stings me every time. It's a concluding phrase in the Prayers of the People: “We thank you for all that you have given us, and for all that you have taken away.” On the surface, it’s a phrase about deliverance from the destructive effects of addiction. But that’s not the only meaning. It’s meant to cover all the circumstances of our lives so that, whatever we face, we can say to God, thank you for all that you have given us, and for all that you have taken away.
Christians are a thanksgiving people who worship a God of abundance. We’re confident that our creation and salvation are the result of God’s abundant love. We’re thankful for the God who eternally creates and sustains us – in life or in death. Thanksgiving is enshrined in our central act of worship: Eucharist, a word that means thanksgiving. We worship a God and follow a Savior whose abundant love fills any of the barren places in our lives.
And yet, despite God’s abundance, I don't think I've ever been thankful for all that God has taken away. It's painful to lose capacities that define our sense of identity. It's stressful to lose material resources that make us feel secure. It's tragic to lose loved ones to injury, illness, and death. How can we learn to be thankful for all that God has taken away?
We learn by journeying together as a community: the Church. When Paul is writing to a community of early Christians he begs them to live, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (Eph. 4:1-3). Because for Paul, a Christian community of mutual burden-bearing & active peace-making is where God’s abundance is most visible – and most believable. Christian community is where we learn to receive our lives as a gift.
This year I invite you to use your Pledge Card to help us continue building a community of abundance at St. C’s. Approximately 70% of our annual budget is funded by voluntary donations and Pledge Cards represent our main planning tool for the coming year. Please join me as we continue building a Christian community of mutual burden-bearing & active peace-making so that, whatever we face, we can say to the God of abundance, thank you for all that you have given us, and for all that you have taken away.