A Sacrament of Thanks
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.”
Each month that we partake of the Lord’s Supper, I reflect on the meaning of this Passover meal that Jesus reinterprets to place himself at the center of the biblical story. With Thanksgiving upon us and Communion in December, it’s a good time to reflect on this spirit of gratitude that underlies this sacrament.
Another name for Communion or the Lord’s Supper is the Eucharist, a Greek word meaning “grateful or thanks”. When we partake of the bread and the cup, we are saying thanks to God the Father for sending Jesus and for securing us in His family by the Spirit until Jesus returns in His second advent. As we partake in the Lord’s Supper we are thanking God for being a bringer of great joy in our lives as well as a comforting us in times of deepest sadness.
One news story told the sad story of young girl who had lost her father in the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. Grieving the loss of her father, she told the news reporter that she wished she could do just one thing: “I just want to ride on the back of my father again.” As a father of two girls myself, one of my greatest joys is having my daughters hold me tightly around my neck while giving a piggy-back ride. In a sense, every human wants to experience this kind of secure love that we children long for. In the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami, hundreds of Christian workers—some whom I knew personally from my church in Los Angeles—responded to cries like this little girl’s by traveling to Japan to minister to the hurting. We, too, can demonstrate our gratitude to God as we partake in the Eucharist and then bless others who need a tangible experience of the hope found in Christ.
The Eucharist reminds me that Christ took the cross so that we could have hope amidst our hopeless situations. On the cross, Jesus takes weak and weary people like us and carries us on His back. When you are too tired to walk, Jesus carries you. He knows that on our own we can’t carry the weight of the world that burdens us with deep losses, constant temptation and persistent divisions. The Lord’s Supper reminds us that God takes us on His back and carries us when we can’t walk anymore. The Eucharist presents a table of thanks that propels us toward a life of gratitude in doing good by serving others.
Questions to Consider
Do you find it hard to be grateful in this season? Are there some deep losses that burden you so much that you realize you need someone strong to carry you? How do worship elements like the Lord’s Supper help you live your daily life as a thank-offering to God?
Prayer of Thanks
Thank You, Jesus, for loving me enough to absorb my sin and give me Your goodness.
Thank You for wanting to be with me for eternity.
Thank You for giving me hope for the difficulties I face today.
Thank You for empowering me to look beyond myself, my needs and my selfish desires so that I can find joy in serving others.
Thank You, Lord, for choosing me to be in Your family forever which gives me hope to live fully today.
Thank You that you’re coming back one day to fully restore this planet that needs Your healing touch.
Thank You for this new community of imperfect people in your Church that exists to join Your daily work.
Thank You that we are privileged to bring light in the darkness, bread to the hungry and comfort to the afflicted.