On this Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent, our Collect for the Day reminds us of the power of sacraments — those outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace — to lead and direct us beyond the challenges of any given moment as we continue in the Gospel work of making that kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Even when those challenges are masks and social distancing and “zoom church.” Even when those challenges are a global pandemic.
O Lord our God, in your holy Sacraments you have given us a foretaste of the good things of your kingdom: Direct us, we pray, in the way that leads to eternal life, that we may come to appear before you in that place of light where you dwell for ever with your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Book of Common Prayer,
Author, historian and independent scholar Diana Butler Bass offers insight into one of the ways that transformative power leads us to the place of light in her book Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks:
In recent years, neuroscientists have discovered that fear and gratitude don’t exist in the same parts of our brains. Fear resides in the amygdala, the ‘reptilian’ part of our brain. Feelings of gratitude activate our neo-cortex, the front of the brain with our ‘higher thinking’ and more recently evolved capabilities.
Indeed, researchers now believe that gratitude and fear cannot exist at the same time – that gratitude actually processes fear, effectively driving fear out, taming it, giving us human beings the possibility of acting with courage, hope, joy, compassion.
So when Jesus shows up at that table on the evening of the empty tomb in the room where a feast had become a funeral, a new table is set. It’s a table of gratitude – the gifts of God for the people of God – with the power to drive out fear.
Whoever you are and wherever your table is set today, may it be a table of gratitude with the power to drive out whatever fears surround you … today and always.