June 25, 2008

The Lord's Supper as a Feast of Gratitude

Matthew 26:26-30

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them …
Matthew 26:27


In the verse we have highlighted for today, there’s a passing reference that speaks a very important message. Just before Jesus offered the cup to his disciples, he “gave thanks.”

The thanksgiving prayer was a deep tradition in the ritual meal of the Jewish Passover.

It was also a sign or symbol of a way of life grounded in gratitude to God.

This prayer of thanks tells us a lot about the underlying tone of the Lord’s Supper, both then and now. The Lord’s Supper is a meal of remembrance and hope. But the tone or spirit that underlies the remembering and hoping is gratitude. In some churches, the Lord’s Supper celebration is simply called Eucharist, which means “gratitude.”

As in Jesus’ day, it is crucial that gratitude is not simply the main theme of a prayer at the Lord’s Supper. It needs to be a way of life.

As you think about your way of life or your past experiences, have there been events or actions that were driven by guilt? Or fear? Or ambition?

Think also about events or actions in your life that have arisen out of gratitude—gratitude first to God and then also to people around you.

What can you do today to fan the flames of gratitude?

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe. You are the giver of every good and perfect gift. We thank you for your boundless love shown in Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

About the author — John D. Witvliet

Dr. John D. Witvliet has served as a professor at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for the past 11 years, as well as serving as Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He and his wife, Charlotte, have four children.

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