In Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts she explores the concept of eucharisteo (thanksgiving) to discover the foundational tenets of following Christ and God’s plan to give us an abundant life full of joy. Like all of God’s teachings, it is simple and yet difficult and unexpected. Here is my take on her central themes.
Perhaps the greatest point is that in God’s Kingdom, thanksgiving is not a once a year, once a month or once a week occurrence. It is a daily practice (yes, it takes practice) of thanksLIVING. It is a constant attitude of gratitude to God for EVERYTHING that we receive in our lives.
Eucharisteo is a Greek word meaning thanksgiving, to be thankful. It envelopes the Greek root word charis, meaning grace, and the derivative chara which is Greek for joy. From it we derive our word, Eucharist, which is another term for Holy Communion. Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. Practicing thankfulness causes us to truly see all our many, thousands of gifts from God, and seeing them as His graces to us leads into great joy.
One of Christ’s last directives to His disciples was to take the bread, the wine, and to remember. Do this in remembrance of Me. Remember and give thanks. Why is remembering and giving thanks the core of Christian faith? Because really knowing and remembering all the ways He has been faithful to us allows us to step away from worry and fully trust. Trust is the outward manifestation of belief. Re-membering= becoming once again a member of the body of Christ=Communion.
In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul invites people to rejoice in the Lord always. Always? Even when Christians are being persecuted? Even when someone I love is dying? Even when I have lost my job? Always? “Do not worry about anything,” Paul continues. Instead, we are called to present our worries to God with thanksgiving. Here you see again the connection between trust, thanksgiving and joy. Knowing that we can trust God to give us good things, knowing that our deep, eternal joy is His ultimate objective, we can learn to humbly accept the ‘bread of affliction’:
The Lord has given you the bread of trouble and water of suffering. But He, your Teacher, will not hide Himself anymore. Your eyes will see your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:20-21)
And consider in 1 Corinthians how Paul once again links thanksgiving with participation in Christ’s suffering and unity in the Church, fellowship, communion.
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
Lastly, eucharisteo leads us into service:
The evening meal was in progress, and…he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:2,5,12,14-15,17)
Christ gave thanks, remembered God’s grace, accepted the bread of brokenness and the cup of suffering as good gifts from God because of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), trusted God and obeyed Him unto death. We call that GOOD Friday, and it was GOOD because Jesus overcame sin and death, defeated Satan, and opened a way for all of mankind to spend eternity with God in the highest Heaven. That joy was worth His life - a life lived entirely in service to others. Now He asks us to do the same.
Give thanks – Remember – Trust – Accept everything God gives – Humbly Obey – Serve others – Experience deep, fulfilling, abundant joy.
And it all starts with eucharisteo – thanksgiving.
Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with love and gratitude,