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Communion (Eucharist) is about present, personal gratitude

September 7, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Luke 22:20, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 12:22-24

Luke 22
20 In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.

Jeremiah 31
31 The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the LORD!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.

Hebrews 12
22 But you have drawn near to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, to countless angels in a festival gathering, 23 to the assembly of God’s firstborn children who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks better than Abel’s blood. 

Daily Reflection & Prayer

DID YOU KNOW?
Today’s GPS focuses on gratitude and worship. So does a special event at Resurrection Leawood Saturday evening called “Affirmations.” Click here for information (including five music videos) about how you can join in the praise and worship Saturday evening.

Have you heard the service where we share bread and wine called “the Eucharist”? That comes from the Greek word eucharistia (“thanksgiving”). The “remembering” meaning of the service is not just about history or nostalgia. Jesus gave up his body and blood “for you”—to fill every day with his grace as we follow him. Jesus self-giving allows us to experience the “new covenant” the prophet Jeremiah promised. It is Jesus who invites us into the cosmic worship that the letter to the Hebrews described.

  • “When God and Israel start over, God’s word (‘Instructions,’ Jeremiah 31:33) will be ‘engraved’ on the hearts of the people. Everyone will know God and receive God’s forgiveness.” * How can thoughtfully engaging in the Communion service deepen your gratitude for God’s forgiving, renewing mercy in Jesus? How has your gratitude for Jesus moved you away from hurtful patterns and toward living as God wants you to live?
  • The letter to the Hebrews spoke to Christians who were facing persecution, and wondering if it was worth holding to their faith in Jesus. The writer was convinced that the believers were a part of something truly awesome—a reality that reached beyond time and space and was worth any price it took. How can a small piece of bread dipped in juice deepen your gratitude that “you have drawn near to… countless angels in a festival gathering… to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant”?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, I’m grateful that what you want most is for me to love you, and to let everything else flow from that. Guide me as I learn to live in the “unforced rhythms” ** of your grace. Amen.

GPS Insights

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Student Discipleship Program Director with Resurrection Students. She has nearly 20 years of volunteer and professional ministry experience and loves walking alongside and encouraging others in their spiritual journey. Mikiala is blessed to be an adoptive aunt and godmother to many kiddos and lives with her 10-pound Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

Years ago, praise and worship duo Shane & Shane released a song that we sang often in my youth group. The song was called, “Give us Clean Hands,” and I would hear the song as a participant in our youth worship services. I learned it in order to lead it as a part of our youth worship team as well.

The song comes from King David’s prayer to God in Psalm 24 that says,

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the LORD
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.

After learning that specific song, I began a practice during communion that would stick with me for my entire life. Any time a pastor would begin to prepare the elements and prepare the congregation to receive them, I would bow my head and meditate on the lyrics of that song, knowing it was based on a prayer coming straight from Scripture.

I felt it was an important prayer to lift up to God as I participated in this important part of worship service. Communion is such a holy practice where we do get to enter God’s holy place as we remember the meal Jesus served his disciples that represented the sacrifice He would make for all of us.

Today I am struck by the desire to add to my own personal practice before I take Communion. I regularly pray for God to cleanse my hands and purify my heart–but rarely do I take a moment within that prayer to give thanks to God for the act of that cleansing and purification. I take the time to be present in the moment, but I forget to be grateful for God’s present of forgiveness in that moment. There’s a measure of personal gratitude I forget to have in that holy moment.

Much like Mary’s sister, Martha, I busy myself with cleaning house and making sure everything is ready in order to receive the Lord–and in that haste, I miss the opportunity to be grateful I am allowed to sit at His feet and embrace His lessons and love.

From now on, when I sing those lyrics in my head, I hope to remember that as I pray that prayer, I can be grateful that God readily answers it. My communion with God isn’t just about the preparation, it’s being grateful for the ability to connect with God in such a way.

I pray that in the moments you remember Christ’s sacrifice, you will experience all the love that motivated it, and be filled with immense gratitude for it.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Cynthia M. Campbell, study note on “Starting Over” in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Common English Bible, 2016, p. 1001.
** Phrase from Matthew 11:28-30 in Peterson, Eugene H., The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition.