When we gather for worship each Sunday, we engage in Holy Eucharist. I happen to like the sound of the word “eucharist,” and I also realize it has an “episcospeak” ambiguity.
The word comes from Greek eucharistica, which in turn comes from the Hebrew berekah. The word means to give thanks, especially in the sense of praising the works of God. It is a profoundly spiritual word in Hebrew and in Greek, and it is no accident that it is utilized as part of the title of a worship service which is to include Holy Communion.
At the center of the liturgy is what we typically call the “Prayer of Consecration,” and that is not inaccurate. But the Prayer Book entitles it, “The Great Thanksgiving.” That is to say, within the service which is meant to offer thankfulness to God for the Creation itself, the narrative of the crucifixion, Resurrection and life of the Holy Spirit is yet “greater” than the whole gathering of thanksgiving.
As we approach the national observance of Thanksgiving Day, I find myself reflecting upon the theme of thankfulness. It is relatively easy to form a mental list of “things” for which to be thankful – mine is a long one, and I try not to lose sight of all it includes.
And as I reflect a bit more deeply, I find that what I am able to give thanks for as a Christian most of all is that Jesus, the Christ of God, is present throughout all that this life includes…times of sorrow and times of joy, times of confusion and times of clarity, times of doubt and times of faith. Jesus has “been there” before me and he does not abandon us.
Now there’s something to be thankful for, I think, and I invite us all to join the “Great Thanksgiving” again and again together as a spiritual community.
The Holy Eucharist for Thanksgiving Day is celebrated this Wednesday, November 22nd at 7:00 PM at St. John’s Church.