I can’t believe it’s that time of year… or almost that time of year, for those of us who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I think if I was in America and celebrating Thanksgiving it’d be “that time of year” for me already, too. Although, if my inbox on Friday was anything to go by, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, Black Friday is inescapable.
So you’re dragged into the Thanksgiving season, whether you like it or not.
This, of course is not necessarily a bad thing. When the Mayflower pilgrims originally met with the Wampanoag Nation to celebrate the harvest, one assumes they were giving thanks to God, regardless of what modern American celebrations of Thanksgiving do or do not religiously entail.
Thanking God, of course, is something with which I wholeheartedly concur. I’ve also just been reminded that The Eucharist – also known as The Lord’s Supper or Communion – is entirely about Thanksgiving.
Side note: yes, this blog post is brought to you by the bottle of shiraz I just found in my laundry.
Eucharistia. It’s Greek for thanksgiving. It’s also what we’re doing at Church when we have a bit of bread and wine (or grape juice) and celebrate Jesus.
Or at least, it is in part. I have to say that more often than not, when I participate in this sacrament, my mind is more set on confession; remembering; or even more occasionally on unity.
But perhaps I don’t understand Communion correctly. I certainly consider it a Christian activity that’s a part of the liturgy of my Church. Yet, I don’t consider it a celebration or a routine practice of thanksgiving.
Perhaps I’m missing something in my mindset on communion. This could be because the practice does seem rather ritualistic. Here’s some of the Anglican Church of Australia’s liturgy for Communion:
On the night before he died, Jesus gathered with his friends to share a meal and wash their feet, teaching one more lesson of love. He took bread and blessed you and broke it. He gave it to them and said: “Take this and eat it. This is my body.”
He took a cup of wine and blessed you and gave it to them. He said: “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, sealing God’s promise to forgive your sins. Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me.”
As we share these holy gifts, we remember the Lord Jesus. For the love you taught us, the sacrifice you made for us and the hope you give us, we acclaim you, O Christ: Dying you destroyed our death. Rising, you restored our life. Christ Jesus, come in glory. And now, faithful God, send us your Spirit to feed us with the body and the blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Make us one body in Christ. Send us as your messengers in the world and fill us with energy, courage and love. Now to you, most holy God, through Christ your Son and in the Spirit’s power, we bring our worship and our songs of praise: Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.
Perhaps in our excessive modern world we miss the symbolism of the bread and the wine. Perhaps there’s something about the minimalism that causes us to miss the celebratory nature of the activity.
Or perhaps we think there needs to be a pardoning of a turkey before there’s a thanksgiving meal on offer. The reality is, there actually just needs to be someone to thank.
As far as I’m concerned, Jesus seems a good choice.
Yours in thanksgiving,
*Quotations from The Anglican Church of Australia Liturgy Commission, revised 2009