A Gracious Eucharist

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and so it is appropriate to stop for a moment and give thoughts on the eucharist and eucharist in general . Generally speaking, one will not hear Protestants using the term “eucharist,” though there are always exceptions to any rule.  We prefer the “Lord’s Supper” and “communion” over “the eucharist.”

Eucharist is a word transliterated (letters from one language given the equivalent letters from another language) straight from Greek. So when Christ took the bread, He blessed it, and when He took the cup he gave thanks (cf. Matthew 26:26-27). The word “thanks” in the Greek language is that transliterated word, “eucharist”. It is two words put into one: “eu” meaning “good.” Hence eugenics is the science of “good genes,” a eulogy is a time to say “good words” about a person at a funeral; even (as was pointed out in our small group last night) euthanasia is one who seeks another’s “good death,” what one is inclined to call a “mercy death.” So, eu means “good.”  The second is charis. Charis is where we get words such as charity or charismatic. Charis is the Greek word for grace (charisma being a derivative to describe a special gifting). When you put the two words together you have the idea of a good grace; in other words one is showing good graces for that which is received.  We are showing graciousness, or still another derivative: “gratitude.”

That being said, when we celebrate, honor, or observe the Lord’s Supper, we ought to do so with gratitude. God not only provided (as was the case with Jesus and His disciples) the food and drink, but He has provided the salvation, the forgiveness, the justification, sanctification, and glorification, as is the case with all believers. Through the elements, God has provided a reminder of all those aspects of salvation, which He did not have to do, but in grace He did.  So, I believe that in context we can add “eucharist” to our repertoire of names for the bread and cup.

Beyond that, we can and should live a eucharistic life, a life of gratitude to God and to man. We are to show gratitude for what God is doing with us, for us, and to us, “giving thanks (eucharist) always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 5:20, ESV; emphasis mine). We are to show gratitude to those around us. Thus, when we start our Christmas shopping we ought to thank the store clerks and cashiers. When we go to a restaurant we ought to leave…wait for it…gratuity (yes, that word comes from gratitude which comes from grace); it is more than a “tip” it is a sign of a gracious heart. If you have to stay in a hotel, leave…yup, you guessed it…gratuity for the breakfast server, the housekeeper (don’t call them maids; they don’t like that), and bellboy.  Leave a note thanking them for their hard work; remember most housekeepers make minimum wage or slightly better. They work long hours, and while you may not trash a room, there are many who do.

Truthfully, words are cheap. Anyone can say a thank you. That is the least we should be doing. To show eucharist, a heart of gratitude, is a bit more pricey. It doesn’t always have to be money, but it should be genuine (since it is from the heart, after all). Notes, cards, or stopping for a moment to look someone in the eye and let them know you are truly thankful for what they do for, with, or to you goes a long way.  So let us not only take of the eucharist. Let us alive a eucharistic life.


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