The Power of a Pause

Like many of you, I’ve been rushing around this past week, but I haven’t been busy with Christmas and New Year’s celebration stuff. Instead, I’ve been focused on the opportunities we’ve been given around Teach Them Diligently and our mission board, Worldwide Tentmakers.

There are all kinds of good things that are happening around our gospel ministry overseas which is exciting. Leslie and I are taking a trip abroad in January to see some of it. Teach Them Diligently is keeping us busy as well! Leslie has a TTD365 retreat in January and our first event of the season is February 4th in Greenville, SC. We are grateful that so many good things are happening.

I noticed something last week, though, that I want to share with you in this email.

Many of you have heard about the journal I produced on Thanksgiving in the Psalms. For those of you that don’t know about this, it’s a guided 40-day journal through the Thanksgiving Psalms. We have received a lot of great testimonies regarding this book, and over the last several months I’ve been working on a new journal on Thanksgiving in Paul’s Epistles.

My study of thanksgiving intersected this past week with the Lord’s Supper, the Christmas Season, and all of this activity we have right now. How?

Over the next few weeks, I’m excited to share what I learned with you, for I believe it will be as beneficial for you as it was for me.

I love this time of year.

Leslie and I have spent a lot of effort building up family traditions around this season. Just like you, we do many things surrounding this season meant to maintain our focus on what’s important and accentuate the enjoyment of time together as a family. This kind of tradition and ceremony is incredibly valuable for families.

Jesus was tapping into the power of ceremony and tradition when he established what some call the Lord’s Supper; others call it communion; and some others name it the Eucharist.

Now, the name Eucharist means gratitude in Greek, but it’s important to remember that Scripture does not use that term to describe the Lord’s Supper. Eucharist was a traditional term that came about because leaders of some of the early churches wanted to establish one of the central themes in the ceremony—which is thanksgiving.

When Paul teaches the church in Corinth about the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 10, it’s important to remember that ceremony is not what the Corinthians were doing. They were merely gathering for a meal and going through the motions.

Some had really fine food. Others did not. Still others would get drunk. The meal was used by the wealthy to exhibit how wealthy they were. The Gentiles ate food that insulted the Jews. And others ate food that was sacrificed to idols which appalled some. This was not a pleasant meal together in Corinth.

What the Corinth church was doing was like going for a swim in a river and then calling it baptism! They were gathering to eat a meal, bringing their own food, and calling it the Lord’s Supper. It was absent any sense of being set apart or ceremony. What they were doing with the Lord’s Supper was representative of the division in the church community.

Paul in this section of his letter tells the church what they are doing wrong; what it was meant to be; and how to fix the problems.

There are three things that we can learn in these verses on the Lord’s Supper regarding thanksgiving, ceremony, and this season. There’s much to take away about why we should pay attention to this in our own homes. The teaching here is not just for the season we are in, but it is for our entire year. Many of us live alone, in anxiety, with regret about how we spend our time. The teaching here addresses these problems, and it will have huge impact on your family life this year.

I am going to state each of these three things quickly here and then expand on them over the next three emails.

  1. Thanksgiving needs memory. It needs space and margin to remember. That’s how thanksgiving is generated. The real impact of a ceremony depends on pausing and taking time to remember what you are thankful for.
  2. Thanksgiving always leads to connection and community. It draws people together. Common reflection and sharing leads to a tighter connection with those that participate. This is why tradition and celebrations are so important in families.
  3. You must consume the gift. You must bring the gift into your life experience either mentally or physically.

If you are reading this and thinking, “Well, the Christmas Season is over. It’s too late for this year!”

Let me tell you it’s not. The ultimate point here is not about the Christmas season, but what ceremony, pausing, thanksgiving, memory, and tradition can do in your family.

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