As I mentioned previously, in this series, we’re looking at four ways developing a discipline of gratitude can help us grow spiritually. These habits move us beyond the emotion of gratitude into expressions of humility and praise, and an awareness of God’s good work in our lives beyond the thing we’re presently grateful for.
Last week, we talked about the way gratitude changes our posture toward God, moving us away from self sufficiency and self interest and moving us toward humility. Besides drawing our gaze heavenward, though, gratitude also refocuses our perspective here on earth.
While the connection isn’t always obvious, the sacrament of communion is as much about gratitude as it is sacrifice. When Jesus implemented the holy supper during his last Passover on earth, he took the cup and the bread, and before he broke it and distributed it, he gave thanks. The Greek word used in all the Gospels and in Paul’s letters for that act of gratitude is eucharisteō, the very same word many Christian denominations call the Lord’s Supper. The Eucharist, or meal of thanksgiving.
But just because the Eucharist is a meal about gratitude doesn’t make it any less a meal about sacrifice. I think that’s why all the Gospel writers emphasize that the bread was broken, because Jesus’ body was about to be broken, and that the wine was poured out, because Jesus’ blood was about to be poured out. In 1 Corinthians 10:16, Paul makes the connection very plain: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Timothy 4:4).
Every time we feel gratitude, even if it’s for a small favor or a tiny comfort, we can tap into the larger gratitude of the Eucharist, giving thanks for Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf. Paul tells Timothy that “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,” which seems to be another way of saying that even smallest gifts can point us back to the greatest gift God gave us on the cross.
Find earlier posts in the series by clicking on the link below: