On a hill with a crowd exceeding 5,000.  Around the table with 12 disciples.

Giving thanks. For the 5 loaves and 2 fish. For provision and abundance.

For the bread and the cup. For the broken body and the blood to be poured out. His body, His blood.

In Matthew 26, we come to the close of Christ’s earthly ministry. As we often find Him in the Gospels, the Lord is eating a meal with some of His closest friends. They are celebrating the Passover feast together. A feast of remembrance. A feast of thanksgiving. A time when hearts and minds recall the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Salvation for God’s children granted because of the lamb’s blood spread across their door post. (see Exodus 12:1-16)

In the midst of remembering, Christ leads his disciples to partake in the present deliverance He came to accomplish. This Last Supper too would be a meal of remembrance for generations to come, a meal of thanksgiving extended to all who believe.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins …’ (Matthew 26:26-28)

On the eve of his death, Christ gives thanks to the Father. With gratefulness, Christ partakes in a meal that marvelously speaks of the grace given to us through His sacrifice. By His broken body and shed blood, our forgiveness is made possible.

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The bread and the wine, given for you, the apostle John writes.

We are the recipients of this grace. This is my body, this is my blood – for you. No greater grace will we ever know than the body and blood of God’s Son. This grace is our salvation.

Our salvation is rooted in the sacrifice of the Son. Our salvation is anchored in thanksgiving.

Eucharisteo. Giving thanks.

Christ on the mountainside, Christ at the table. Giving thanks. We too come to the table of the Lord, to eat the bread and drink the cup. We too give thanks. As often as we return to the table, we remember and proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (I Corinthians 11:26) We recall the grace we’ve received and the grace upon grace we continue to walk in.

Participating in the Eucharist. The bread and the cup. Remembering the body and blood of our Lord leads us into thanksgiving.

In her book, One Thousand GiftsAnn Voskamp writes of our lives – daily, moment by moment – being expressed with rhythms of thanksgiving.

We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace. 

Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.

Eucharisteo. Responding to grace. For it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our salvation is in Christ alone. By His death, we are washed clean of our sin and fully forgiven. By His victorious resurrection, we are raised to new life – life characterized, consumed by, unending gratitude. For the grace we’ve been given.

A large glass jar sits atop the shelf in our family room. Dad’s Thanksgiving Jar. Quiet moments with Dad remind me to pull this jar off the shelf. We recall what he’s thankful for, then we add new folded slips of paper to the collection.

What are you thankful for, Dad? 

I listen to and record Dad’s replies. My wife and children. A warm house. Good food. The jar is quite full. Thankfulness overflows.

As I fill his jar and add graces to my own thanksgiving journal, the beauty of thanksgiving unfolds all over again. We are responding to grace. More than a momentary shift in perspective, our days are to be filled, overflowing, with gratitude.

Sometimes easier said than done, I know. Gratitude isn’t always an easy response, but it is the only response to the immeasurable grace we’ve been given in Christ.

We have been brought out of death into new life because of Christ. (II Corinthians 5:17) By the divine power of Jesus Christ, we have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him …  (II Peter 1:3, NKJV) We lack nothing because of Christ. (Psalm 23:1)

With joy, let us always be found responding to grace. Giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20) Giving thanks in everything and for everything.

For the provision on the mountainside, our Lord gave thanks. For His broken body and shed blood, our Lord gave thanks. May we respond likewise. For the water and food that fuel our bodies. For the joy of friends and loved ones. For the beauty that surrounds us in nature. For the hardships that press us closer to the heart of God.

For the endless gifts, for the grace we’ve been given – let us give thanks.

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