Gratitude at the Table: a Communion Meditation for 11/23/2015

I read today’s psalm in different translations, side by side, and here’s what I found, starting in verse three:

“Know that the LORD Himself is God;”
“Acknowledge that the Lord is God.” 

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; 
He made us, and we are His.
He made us; we didn’t make Him.
He made us, and we belong to Him.

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
We are His people, His well-tended sheep.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving 
Enter with the password: ‘Thank You.’

I was struck by that wording.  We are not to enter God’s presence with pride, or self-satisfaction, but with thankfulness.

We come to this table to, after a fashion, enter the presence of God.  We come to share the Body and Blood of God, the Body and Blood of Christ, with the Body of Christ.  And the classic name for this event we’re sharing?  The Eucharist.  Eucharisteo.  Thanksgiving.  Coming to this table should form within us thankfulness.

So what are we here to be thankful for?  Everything.  Our very existence is not ours; He has made us.  We belong to Him.  Is there anything good that has come out of your life?  Anything that you’ve ever done that is good?  There’s a very limited sense in which yes, we can take a kind of credit for such things.  We hope to hear someday, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  

But in a deeper sense, we owe everything to the One who gave us life, who gave us our abilities, who gave us the circumstances of our life, the people around us who modeled what God wanted us to become, even the good judgment we used when we made good decisions: all this and more came from God.  And so, to Him goes all the glory.  Like the elders in Revelation that are continually taking off the crowns from their own heads and throwing them at the feet of Christ, we must always be diverting the attention of those around us from the good things we do, the good decisions we make, to the One who made us to do good.

He is the One we come to this table to meet.  He is the One who invited us here.  And it is to Him that we say, in profound gratitude, “Thank You.”  We are thankful that He offered Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf, giving us life, reuniting us with Himself, and with each other, and with everything good.  As we tear off a piece of bread and take a tiny cup of juice, and quietly consume these little gifts, we need not conjure up some mystical vision or prayer to celebrate and join in the life of the body of Christ.  We need only search the depths of our hearts and say, “Thank You.”

For this is what the Lord himself said, and I pass it on to you just as I received it. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it." For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord's death until Jesus comes again.


Offering Meditation:

The rest of Psalm 100 says, “Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”

The generosity of God, giving love unfailingly, continues forever, through every generation.  He never stops creating.  He never stops providing.  Mimicking His generosity starts with creativity, and continues through providing out of that creative work.  But that’s not just a one-time thing.  Our generosity, to follow His, must continue.  Our creative work must continue, and, given provision by that work, our generous giving must continue, week after week, year after year, generation after generation.