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Give a Toast to the Lord

C.S. Lewis was often fond of writing letters. In fact, he would spend two hours every day corresponding with his fans. Many of these were children. On June 1944, Lewis wrote to a young girl named Sarah. I love this letter because he recounts a story about a rabbit. Lewis writes:

“I am getting to be quite friends with an old Rabbit who lives in the Wood at Magdalen College [Oxford]. I pick leaves off the trees for him because he can’t reach up the branches and he eats them out of my hand. One day he stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws against me; he was so greedy. I wrote this [poem] about it.”

A funny old man had a habit
of giving a leaf to a rabbit.
At first it was shy, 

But then, by and by,
It got rude,
and would stand up, and grab it.

(Edited by Lyle Dorsett & Marjorie Lamp Mead,
C. S. Lewis’ Letters to Children, 1996)

Lewis’s poem is cute, but also deeply perceptive about human nature—even if it is personified in a rabbit. My guess is that one cannot read the poem without, in some way, acknowledging that they have been like this little rabbit.

This, of course, raises the question about how we should we respond to God’s grace in our lives. The Psalmist asks this very question in Psalm 116, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” To which he responds, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (vv. 12-13). We might summarize this as toast of gratitude to the Lord. We do this liturgically each time the cup is raised during the Holy Eucharist, but we also do it each time we pause to pray before meals (see the Book of Common Prayer, p. 835, for a list of prayers before meals).

Yet perhaps most importantly, gratitude is not something that we can just muster up within us. It is the fruit of going deep with God—the product of a robust realization that all He has done and continues to do in our life. This is the key to Christian gratitude. Let us then raise a cup to the Lord, for “his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
The Rev. Alex D. Graham III
Associate for Children and Family Ministries
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