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Weekly Devotionals

Take Bless Break Give

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the  covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” – Mark 14:22-25

Henri Nouwen in his book, Life of the Beloved, describes the movement of the Christian life as led by the Spirit and exemplified by Christ. And he uses 4 verbs that come straight from this passage, which we recite every time we take communion. Jesus took the bread, he gave thanks (or he blessed it), he broke it and gave it to his disciples

Take. To be taken means to be chosen. God took us as his own. He chose us before the foundations of the world to be his beloved children. This is the starting point of our life of faith. It is an act initiated by God, not by us. In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”

Bless. After we have been taken by God, he blesses us. Of course, we’ve been blessed with the gift of eternal life, but it’s interesting to note that the word for bless here means “to speak well of.” Thus it carries the connotation of affirmation. The Lord affirms us in our identity as the beloved of God. Often times in our faith and relationship with God, we stop at being “chosen” and we don’t press in to hear the voice of the Lord telling us how much he loves us and pursues us. This is all too important in our relationship with him. Let God speak well of you. That’s hard for us to believe sometimes b/c we are so used to criticism. Let him say to you, “This is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” Even when Jesus heard this, it was at his baptism, before he even did anything. Thus, it’s an unearned blessing – an act of grace.

Break. But then as we continue to grow in our walk with God, there comes a time when we must be broken. All of us like blessing, no one likes to be broken. Yet, like the alabaster jar that releases the fragrance of worship, the true beauty of who we are only gets released when we are broken of our pride, our strength, our fears and our insecurities. Nouwen says…“The deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it.  The great secret of the spiritual life, the life of the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God, is that everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness, can all be part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity” (77). “When we keep listening attentively to the voice calling us the Beloved, it becomes possible to live our brokenness, not as a confirmation that we are worthless, but as an opportunity to purify and deepen the blessing that rests upon us…[G]reat and heavy burdens become light and easy when they are lived in the light of the blessing.  What seemed intolerable becomes a challenge.  What seemed a reason for depression becomes a source of purification.  What seemed punishment becomes a gentle pruning.  What seemed rejection becomes a way to a deeper communion” (79).

Give. Finally, after we are broken, that is when we have something to give. Not out of our strength, but out of our weakness. The greatest gift Jesus gave to us came through his atoning work on the cross, which gave way to the life-releasing work of his resurrection…but it had to happen in that order. It is always the person who has been broken and humbled in life whose words and actions carry the most weight. People who never suffer, never have much to offer in terms of substance. When we have been broken and emptied of ourselves, that is when we can truly give ourselves to others. True living is when we are free from ourselves to give ourselves in service and love to others. As Nouwen says again, “As the Beloved ones, our greatest fulfillment lies in becoming bread for the world” (89).

So, thank the Lord that he has taken/chosen you. Thank him for his blessings and review your history with God. Meditate on your brokenness and see how God is using it for beauty and building up. Whether it’s past, present or future brokenness, don’t run away from it and don’t try to end it too fast, so that God can be the one to say, “It is finished.” And finally, offer yourself to be fully given.