Tables of Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for? I am thankful for such great church leaders!

Think of this as a sort of extension of last Sunday’s sermon. I told you all about the experience of visiting Ruth Lobato last Saturday night as she went into hospice care. It was so deeply meaningful as I went to minister to her, and found myself ministered to. Turns that whole “least of these” thing on its head and reminds us that we all have moments of being “the least of these.”

Early this morning, Tanya, Lola, and myself went to do communion with Ruth. Thankfully, Ruth has improved just a bit and was able to receive communion.

As I arrived at the hospital, I started wondering—What scripture should we read? I’m not preaching this Sunday, which is what I would ordinarily pick. However, I remembered that in two weeks I am preaching on Isaiah 61, and Tanya and I read it together as we rode up to the room in the elevator:

“1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion…”

Tanya and I immediately turned to each other and realized this was exactly what we all needed to hear this morning. Sure enough, as we gathered around the bed this morning to receive the sacrament of communion and heard those words, there was no doubt of the presence of Christ’s spirit being upon us all. What is so beautiful is that this is the Reformed understanding of communion to the T! It isn’t about the substance of the bread or the juice becoming the flesh and blood of Christ. For us, it is about being brought into the presence of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Tanya read those words about the Spirit of the Lord and about comfort for those who mourn, I watched Ruth’s wizened face crack in to an almost imperceptible smile.

As we partook of communion I was holding back tears because of the intense power of the moment. Of course, we finished communion and Ruth immediately started ministering to each of us in turn, talking to Tanya about teaching, greeting Lola, and asking about my family. What a Saint of the Church!

I am supposed to be on vacation this week, and one might be tempted to ask, “what are you doing going on hospital visits.” Vacation is supposed to be a time to refresh and rejuvenate. Let me tell you, there is nothing more nourishing to the soul than what happened this morning.

I hope you all have moments like this to be thankful for as you gather around your various tables this Thanksgiving. Remember—The Lord’s Supper in Greek is Eucharistos—Thanksgiving! As you partake tomorrow, take a moment to think of the tables you gather around and give thanks. Remember the table that those disciples and our Lord gathered around long ago, and take time to invite Christ into your presence this holiday.

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