Working all Things Together For Good

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 NKJV

As you are preparing for Thanksgiving, you may be tracking down the family china, defrosting the turkey or running to the store for eggnog. The details of the day with its hustle and bustle sometimes muddle the point of the holiday for a moment. For Jesus and His disciples, the preparing for the Passover were very much the same. Special food had to be bought, a table laid out and certain decorations set in place. While we bring to mind the Pilgrims, the Native Americans and the Mayflower they were remembering their deliverance from Egypt. It was sort of what I like to call – The Jewish Thanksgiving.

And it struck me, that on that special night, that things were not what they appeared. Just beyond the candlelight of that table, the religious leaders were putting plans in motion to arrest Jesus and have him executed. Everything looked good while the disciples were at the table with Jesus, but the reality for Jesus was that the worst day of His life, lay straight ahead. Judas would betray Him, Peter deny Him and all of them whose feet He washed, would run away.

For Jesus, the song He sang with His disciples as they left for the Garden must have had some sadness to it. With the same bittersweet sense of loss that many of us face at Thanksgiving, Jesus still trusted His Father to work all things together for good. He couldn’t see it yet, but His betrayal, led to our salvation, His last meal would still be shared today, and His cross would give forgiveness of sins to hundreds of millions around the world. And when in times of grief or discouragement we wonder how all things are working together for good, remember that even Jesus cried out to His Father for another way. Yet, at His lowest point, Jesus surrendered to His Father’s will, “Not my will but Yours be done”. And His Father answered that prayer, but it was three days later. There God had completed working everything together for good. Then Jesus gave life in the place of death, eternal joy for temporary sorrows and a golden crown in the place of thorns! Why not crown Him Lord over all we are passing through today and believe with all our hearts that He is working all things together for our good?

Saving the Best for Last

And Last He took the Cup

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 ESV

While we listened to quiet music, preparing to receive communion last Sunday, my mind turned back fifty years to memories of a farm where we once lived. In those days, my mornings began at a quarter to five. In the chilly darkness, I would stumble out to the barn where, our cow Blondie waited for me to bring her ground corn and hay. As I went about my work, she contentedly munched on ground corn and Kansas City, our cat watched expectantly hoping for the few drops of milk I sometimes sent her way. Twenty minutes later I would return with a bucket of warm fresh milk. This was poured through cheese cloth and allowed to settle, till the cream rose to the top. That cream we skimmed off and set aside. That very best part of the milk we saved for last.

And saving the best for last, is exactly what Jesus did at the very first communion table. While the disciples were still arguing over which of them was most important, Christ took the precious bread and the cup to try and show them what must soon happen on a terrible cross, waiting just up the road for Him. After three years, during which they had shared countless adventures, sailed through storms and seen miracles, the disciples still had much to learn. So, as they sat together at the Last Supper, Jesus gave thanks, then took the bread saying, “This is my body,” and then the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood.”

Two thousand years later it is no different. We still have the privilege with uncounted millions of others who have believed before us, to drink His cup, and remember that for Jesus, it meant the cross. For Him that cup was filled with suffering, but He drank off its bitterness and left for us the sweetness of the best for last. This New Covenant cup, bought with His blood, for us is filled with mercy, love and eternal life. All that Jesus asks us is that as we receive, we remember Him – until He comes again!

The Table

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

When my mom passed away, she left a few odds and ends of furniture from my great-grandmother. Besides a small sideboard which sat in our office for years were a few worn out chairs and some curious table leaves with legs that took up permanent residence in our attic. One night as I was reorganizing things recently, I began to examine the spare table parts thinking maybe I could salvage them for shelves. They seemed strangely familiar and so I paused to look more closely. Then in a flash I realized that they fit into the sideboard and made up the table at which I had once sat down to breakfast with great grandmother over 60 years ago.

One thing I love about our church is that we have communion every week. Every week we sit down and remember that Jesus has left behind a table. While my table was a happy memory of my childhood; His is a remembrance of His amazing love on the cross. It gives joy to our day as we celebrate God’s gift of eternal life and remember the price that Jesus paid for all who love Him and come to sit down at His table!