Communion Meditation: Eucharist

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

We do not use the term frequently, perhaps not at all formally. Eucharist? What is the Eucharist? What does the term mean? Why do we not use it?

Eucharist refers to what we more often call the Lord's Supper or communion. It is literally, the thanksgiving. The term comes from the Greek word which means to give thanks. Jesus took the bread and gave thanks. He broke the bread. He said the broken bread represented his broken body. He told his disciples to take it and to eat it. The word simply means "thanksgiving." Jesus gave thanks. The meal is named for the practice that introduces it.

(Incidentally, the most likely answer as to why we do not use the term is because of its use by other groups, especially to avoid the mysticism and traditions that developed around the communion practices in other groups.)

Jesus gave thanks. I wonder when the disciples first gave thanks and made the association. Was it on those days immediately after Pentecost when they continued in "breaking bread"? Did they suddenly make the association-broken bread, broken body of Jesus? When did they understand? When did the connection occur?

More important questions concern our own thanksgiving. Here we are on Thanksgiving weekend. We are about to share a part of our worship that is "the thanksgiving". As you partake, does your heart swell with gratitude? Are you overwhelmed by the extent of the gift? Do you think that you could never be grateful enough to say thank you?

On this thanksgiving weekend, we have an opportunity to come to the Supper with thanksgiving, individually and collectively. Let us give thanks.

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Last updated November 26, 2010.