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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Thanksgiving

This is central to what Jesus did in his institution of the eucharist

For November it’s appropriate to think about “eucharist,” that funny word that means “thanksgiving.” In the meal Jesus said, “Do this.” But have you ever asked: “Do what?”

Let’s imagine the Upper Room: A motley crew of followers gathered to share a final meal, remember the long roads walked side-by-side, the crowds fed miraculously but simply. They remembered the dark storms endured, the Word that had lived in flesh among them, the life Jesus was giving and the lives they were giving so others might know a love that touched and transformed the fearful into a body of bold believers.

But is remembering the only thing Jesus implies in his command “Do this”? I think more central to what Jesus did in his institution of this sacred meal and more central to our gatherings is thanksgiving. I realize some argue that we “liturgy types” emphasize the word eucharist too much. Perhaps they’re right. But I invite you to think about what Jesus did.

From all accounts he was celebrating a meal, a ritual meal into which he inserted new meaning so it became a celebration of what God was accomplishing in Jesus.


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