The First Thanksgiving

Before you take your first bite of turkey this week, take a moment to think back and reflect on the first Thanksgiving meal.

No, not the mythic gathering of pilgrims and native Americans from our legendary past. As charming as that story might be, I would argue that was not the first Thanksgiving meal.

Instead, we need to look at the last supper in an upper room in Jerusalem as the original Thanksgiving. Jesus gathered his disciples there to celebrate the Passover, and as he picked up the bread and the cup of wine, he “gave thanks” according to each of the gospel accounts before he handed them over to his disciples.

One of the words used for the sacrament of Holy Communion is Eucharist, which comes from the Greek word, eucharistia, which is literally translated as “thanksgiving.” It ought to be clear from this that Communion is meant to be the giving of thanks to God for God’s blessings to us through the self-giving of Jesus Christ.

Every time we take Communion, we are celebrating Thanksgiving!

The opposite ought to be true, as well. Every time we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are also “taking Communion”!

After all, Jesus simply said that we were to “remember him” every time we shared food and drink together. Every time we break bread with others, we have a potential Holy Communion moment, for Christ is present in that moment.

Have you ever looked around the table on Thanksgiving and pondered the fact that you were experiencing something holy, something very special and sacred? While you are passing the mashed potatoes, you are passing God’s peace; while you are scooping up the stuffing, you are experiencing the human-but-also-divine experience of family love.

That dinner roll, dripping with butter? That is the body of Christ, given for you.

That iced tea? That is the blood of Christ, shed for you.

And when you finally push back from the table, whisper one more prayer of thanks for this holy mystery in which God has given us a sense of belonging, purpose, and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!