‘Would have been enough’
In the USA, we have just celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving.
The traditions observed on Thanksgiving don’t have associations with the Bible or Christianity, but ‘giving thanks’ is most certainly a biblical idea. In fact most Christians, whether or not they live in America, celebrate a form of ‘thanksgiving’ more often than they realize.
A Christian celebration that most of us are familiar with is Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Some churches call this ‘The Eucharist,’ which comes from the Greek word ‘eucharistia’, meaning – you guessed it – thanksgiving. So wherever and whoever we are, when we take the symbols of the blood and body of Jesus, we are truly giving thanks and celebrating our life in Christ.
Here is something else you may find interesting. As you probably know, the ceremony of communion has its roots in the Jewish Passover. Part of the traditional Passover celebration is a hymn called ‘Dayenu’. Essentially, the Hebrew word ‘Dayenu’ means, “It would have been enough for us.” It is sung as a response after merciful and saving acts of God are recalled from the Hebrew bible – events like the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Sabbath, or the completion of the temple. There are fifteen stanzas sung in all. The idea behind the hymn is that if God gave Israel just one of these blessings, “it would have been enough.”
Those physical interventions in the history of ancient Israel are not part of our modern history, but they do give us a wonderful reminder of God’s saving actions in our lives today. Just as God saved Israel in the parting of the Red Sea, he has saved us from drowning in sinfulness. Just as he gave Israel the Sabbath, he has given us rest in a new life in Christ. And just as he completed the temple by taking up residence in it, he now lives in us. We too can say, “If he had only given us one of these blessings, it would have been enough.”
Our national day of Thanksgiving is a good time for us to stop and think about how often we should say “Dayenu” when we think of what God has done for us.
Jesus went to the Cross, where he was crucified, died, and buried. But, he then rose from the grave, defeating death – inviting us to follow and do the same. He ascended to the Father and is taking us with him.
And God continues to do more! It did not stop with the Incarnation of Jesus, or the miracles Jesus performed while on Earth. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God did not just do what needed to be done for us, he continues to do all that can possibly be done to secure our salvation.
I believe God is always moving and moves beyond our imaginations. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, God does “more than we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). So just as Israel sang a rising crescendo of thanksgiving with “Dayenu”, let gratitude be our crescendo for the one who is worthy of our praise.