By Michael C. Mack
Thanksgiving is more than an annual holiday. For Christ followers, it’s a vital spiritual discipline. Jesus often modeled giving thanks for us. When he raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus thanked his Father for hearing him (John 11:41-42). Before he fed the 4,000, he gave thanks for what was available to him—seven loaves and a few small fish (Mark 8:6-7). Jesus lived a life of thanksgiving for the big as well as the small blessings.
And the early church followed Jesus’ example. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Don’t miss the words “with thanksgiving.” Giving thanks is an attitude that is part of our lives. Especially in the circumstances of this past year, we need to live with this attitude. Instead of worrying, we can be thankful because we trust in an all-powerful God. In every situation. In every circumstance of life. Even in 2020.
The word for thanksgiving in Philippians 4:6 is also used in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24: “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 word used in both cases is a form of the Greek word eucharistos. Sound familiar? Eucharist literally means “giving thanks” or “gratitude.” Eucharist became the word believers (sometime before AD 100) used for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
This is incredibly significant! As followers of Christ, we gather together every week to give thanks for Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, which bought for us eternal life with him.
Thanksgiving, eucharistos, is also an act of worship. Worship is more than something we do in a building once a week. It’s part of who we are—and whose we are—as Christ followers.
As we take this bread and this cup, reminders of Jesus’ crucified body and shed blood, we do so with eternal thanksgiving and with abiding worship.
Michael C. Mack is editor of Christian Standard.