Sunday we will join at the table in Eucharist, sharing holy bread and holy wine, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This common meal is an intimate affair. The word “Eucharist” is, in fact, a transliteration of the Greek word eucharistia, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word berekah. All mean “thanksgiving” for all that God has made and provided.
It is thanksgiving itself that makes it possible for us to be together as one in Christ.
Think for a moment of how hard it is to share in the lives of those with whom we are angry, how opportunities to share meals in such circumstances create an atmosphere very difficult to endure. Authentic sharing can only occur when we are able to take the risk of loving one another, of trusting that our differences are smaller than our common life. Thanksgiving makes it possible for us to take that risk and be generous. It is no coincidence that this is the word the church has used for worship almost since the beginning. But just what is it we are thankful for beyond our humble thanksgiving for life itself?
The answer comes to us in the form of joining together for communion. Eucharist is re-entering that Upper Room, walking with Jesus through his suffering and death, and bursting out of the tomb to transformed life. This is the source of our Eucharistic thanksgiving; not just gratitude for breathing, but thanksgiving for the possibility of transformed life in Christ. Jesus showed us the way, permanently changing our reality. Jesus has made it possible for us to love freely because, in the end, there is nothing to fear – not even death.
Love does win in the end. Love does indeed transform. No wonder we are thankful.
The Reverend Susan N. Eaves