Eucharist. That’s not a word we use much in my Presbyterian denomination (PCA), and I certainly didn’t hear it much growing up in Wesleyan and Baptist circles. But beginning in the second century Christians used this word, Eucharist, as the prominent designation for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Webber, Worship Old & New, 235). Eucharist means “to give thanks.”
In 1 Corinthians 11:24, the Apostle Paul uses the Greek word, eucharistia, when he recounts the Last Supper: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.'”
The theme of thanksgiving was, and is, a large part of the sacramental meal shared by Christians. When we gather at the Lord’s Table, we come with a deep sense of thankfulness to God for the covenant relationship he established with us through his Son, Jesus Christ. We’re thankful for God’s electing love, his sovereign grace, for all the spiritual blessings we have by being united with Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14), and for every good and perfect gift we receive from the Father’s hand (James 1:17). As we come to the Table of the Lord, we’re thankful for the perfect sacrifice of Christ our Lord, whose blood has washed away our sins, and we’re thankful that because of the work of Christ, we who were once separated from God can now draw near to him with full assurance (Hebrews 10:19-22).
An overwhelming thankfulness to God for his never-ending, steadfast, covenant love for us should be the predominant attitude of our hearts as we approach the sacrament of Communion. The Psalmist says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
In 2003, Pat Sczebel wrote a worship song titled, “Jesus, Thank You.” This song beautifully captures the theme of thankfulness to God for the work of Christ on the cross. We’ll be singing this song during Communion (or should I say, Eucharist?) this coming Sunday at Willow Creek Church. To help prepare for worship, here’s a link to the Sovereign Grace Music website where you can listen to the song, view the lyrics, purchase the mp3, and download the music: “Jesus, Thank You.” And here’s another link to a youtube video of the song with the lyrics: “Jesus, Thank You.”