The Christian Thanksgiving Meal: “Eucharista”

Have you ever heard the word “eucharist” in a church setting? This word is a Greek word which means “thanksgiving.” The people of God have often and historically used this term “eucharist” to speak of the Lord’s Supper. The scriptures do not directly call the Lord’s Supper the “eucharist” but we use the word to describe the sacrament because Jesus in the Words of Institution “gave thanks…” 1 Cor 11:24. So we could say that The Lord’s Supper is a thanksgiving meal.

The Lord’s Supper is a thanksgiving meal reminding us that Jesus gave this meal and it is the words of Christ that set this meal apart from other meals even our Thanksgiving meal.

“La Última Cena” (The Last Supper) | Juan de Juanes ca. 1562

First when we remember Jesus “gave thanks” we are taken back to the night when Jesus was betrayed. We remember what Christ has done for us. Not just that night, but that night is also the culmination of all that Jesus lived and preached. Second, when Jesus “gave thanks” he knew exactly what was about to happen on the cross and he also knew what he was doing for his apostles in that moment. Jesus knew he was giving a holy meal for his people to celebrate whenever they desire forgiveness of their sins and the strengthening of their faith.

While our American Thanksgiving meals use special food that we only maybe eat once a year, what is striking is how Jesus didn’t use fancy food for the Lord’s Supper. Jesus used simple bread and wine. The most common food elements in his time. Bread and wine. Everyday food that provided the needs of the people. This is quite interesting if you consider it. Our Lord uses common food for something holy yet this holy food is basic for the Christian’s body and soul. The Lord’s Supper is the common meal for the Christian through faith. It is sustenance for the faith. It is our provision as we go on our way. There is no other food for the soul which enters our mouth for the forgiving of our sins and strengthening of our faith. It is pure gospel. Despite the success of said book, there is no chicken soup for the soul. There is only one food for the soul, the body and blood of Christ.

The gospel we receive by mouth is nothing other than the word of God in, with and under the bread and wine. Hearing with faith we know what it is that we eat and drink, the forgiveness of our sins. Something physical that benefits us spiritually into eternity. Both our bodies and souls are fed. This is why after taking the Lord’s Supper I announce, “The true body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting.”

And the communicant answers, “Amen.” The “Amen” is the “yes” of faith.The “Amen” is the “yes the Lord does what he promises through this sacrament.” What Christian does not have an immense desire to give thanks?

This is why we also know the Lord’s Supper as The Eucharist because Christ is actually doing something for us in this meal. It is not just a memorial meal where we give thanks for the past actions of Christ like we do at a Thanksgiving meal. The Eucharist is the true thanksgiving meal. True forgiveness for every one of your sins. We cannot go back to the cross, but Christ brings the benefits of the cross to us in real time bringing us out of time and into an eternal meal.

A Lutheran Divine Service ca. 1561

So this Thanksgiving give thanks for the real thanksgiving meal. Eat your fill at your table with loved ones both in food and conversation. Speak of the love you have for one another and hear that God showed his love of the universe in this way, that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in his shall not perish but have eternal life. Be filled at your family table this Thanksgiving where the more you eat the more calories you gain. Be filled at The Lord’s Table not to gain calories but to have your sins forgiven, not just once a year but whenever you hunger for your Savior’s forgiveness.

See you on Sunday,

Pastor Ottmers