And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you;
Today most of us in America will sit down in a tradition that dates back to the Pilgrims and their dinner of thanksgiving, as they gave thanks to God for bringing them to this new world. We eat turkey and dressing and all the trimmings in remembrance of God’s providence in our lives. The providence that brought us to today. No matter what problems or pains we endure, we’re here. We’re alive and well enough to give thanks.
But for some, today will be a day of mourning, a day of sorrow. People die on and around Thanksgiving just like any other day. What about them? How will they find thankfulness in their hearts for God’s providence? I pray they will. His Providence is always there, but sometimes we have to look through a lot of pain and tears to see it.
It wasn’t easy for those early pilgrims as they braved a new and sometimes hostile world to carve out a life. They built homes and villages, and planted crops and families all to begin again in freedom. They left behind the religious oppression they felt in the old world. And it didn’t matter how hard it would be in the new world, they we’re determined to make a new life…and so they did.
What about you? What about me? Are we determined that no matter what obstacles lay ahead of us that we will make it through in this life? There is only one way to know we can make it through – with faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the object of the Pilgrim’s thankfulness, as He should be ours. Nothing we enjoy today comes to us of our own accord, but through His divine providence.
On the last night of His life, Jesus gathered for a traditional meal with his disciples as they celebrated the Passover. But it was not a night like any other. That night, Jesus gathered them not only to remember the deliverance of their ancestors, He gathered them to deliver them. As Jesus celebrated His last Passover with them, He was celebrating His first Eucharist with them – His first Thanksgiving with them.
The Eucharist is known by many names, Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, or simply Communion. But Eucharist was the name given by the first Christians, and they gave it that name for a reason. In their common Greek language, “Eucharistia” meant Thanksgiving. That night, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for them both. He was thanking the Father for His own body about to be broken and His own blood about to be shed.
I wonder if we can do that today? Can we gather together with friends and family and raise a cup of Thanksgiving for what is about to happen? None of us knows what tomorrow may bring. For some it will bring great loneliness having passed the first holiday without a loved one who died. For others it will bring great joy as they move into the season of Advent and Christmas, with hearts full of hope.
Whatever your lot is today, I pray you will not only see Pilgrims and Turkeys, but that you will see a broken lamb giving thanks to God for you and your life. A life He died to save, and not just to save but to save for an everlasting life filled with joy, and the fulfillment of our original creation. So today, let us lift a cup of Thanksgiving to the one thing for which we should be most thankful – eternal life in Jesus Christ.