Eucharist as the Great Thanksgiving

Psalm 95 contains two distinct sections . . .

The first section involves praise and thanksgiving:

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
5 The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

While the second section involves griping, grumbling, and complaining:

Today, if you will hear His voice:
8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’

As we read in the book of Exodus, the Israelites grumbled, complained, and griped in the wilderness.  Instead of being thankful for the salvation they had received at God’s hand, they moaned and groaned about hardships in the wilderness.

Those who were thankful made it through to the promised land.
Those who grumbled and complained died in the wilderness.

Thankfulness is incompatible with griping and complaining.

As noted in a recent post, the practice of “giving thanks” has been closely connected with our remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection:

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.’ (Luke 22:19-20)

In the early Church, many Christians spoke the Greek language, and the Greek word for “giving thanks” is “Eucharisteo” (εὐχαριστέω). That is why the Church calls Communion the “Eucharist”. It is a time of thanksgiving, when we lift up our praises to God. We thank Him for the gift of salvation, because the body of Jesus was broken for our healing, and His blood was spilled for the forgiveness of our sins.

So, if thankfulness is incompatible with griping and complaining,
then the Eucharist, too, is incompatible with griping and complaining.

If we cannot be at peace with our Church family around the Lord’s Table,
then any peace we display around the carved turkey on “Thanksgiving” is meaningless.

The only safe way to approach the Eucharist is to approach in joy, with thankfulness, not grumbling about our Christian brothers and sisters, but joyfully loving them, forgiving them, and partaking of Christ’s body and blood with them.

When we partake in this manner, we discover that the Eucharist itself is the single greatest Thanksgiving feast we can enjoy.


This is day thirteen of the 40 Days of Blogging.
For more articles on Eucharist as the Great Thanksgiving, check out these bloggers.

About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
This entry was posted in 40 Days of Blogging, Holy Communion, Luke 22:14-23, Psalm 95. Bookmark the permalink.

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