The last child jumped out of the van and ran to the door while I waited to make sure their mom was home. Safe inside, I turned the old Chevy out of the alley and toward the church, thankful for some quiet. The newer radio is playing some Hip Hop, with it’s red and blue screen flashing. It seems out of place next to the dim dashboard. I turn it down. Pulling up behind a pick up, I’m waiting my turn to go. It’s late. I want to call it a night, but then I think about the broken sink in the men’s room. How did the boys do that? At least no one got hurt. I’ll clean it up in the morning. The truck in front of me is just sitting there. A guy runs up to the truck window, it looks like some kind a deal is going down. I’m too tired to really care, and I wait for him to go. In the dim quiet of the inner city community I wonder about my place in this Kingdom work. It feels pretty obscure at times. When I signed up for this, perhaps I expected a bit more applause and some impressive results to brag about. Then I think about my Sunday sermon text, “Jesus took the bread and gave thanks . . . . then he took the cup and he gave thanks.”
How could Jesus give thanks, and for what? He will soon be rejected by men and hung upon a wooden cross in the garbage dump of Jerusalem. He will be forgotten, or so it seems, and even for a moment forsaken by God, but never abandoned. Yet, he gives thanks for the sheer joy of serving and giving himself as an offering to God. I want to be able to do that, to serve the Father knowing he sees the service done for him in secret, and he rewards it.
There is a legend of a man who discovered the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart. The man noticed that Satan had more seeds of discouragement than any other kind. When questioned, Satan reluctantly admitted that those seeds would grow everywhere except for one place. “And where is that?” asked the man. Satan replied sadly, “In the heart of a grateful man.”
“In everything gives thanks, for this is the will of God”