Terrill: Lord’s Supper a Thanksgiving meal itself
In the fall of 1621, Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, heard musket shots.
He sent 90 of his warriors to investigate. He feared that a warring tribe had attacked the pilgrims, who he had promised to protect. There was no danger. The governor of the new colony had given his men permission to hunt fowl, so that a day of Thanksgiving might be observed.
The Indian braves discovered that the 53 undocumented aliens in Plymouth had managed to collect some shellfish. They also had pecans and cranberries. Squash and pumpkins had been harvested for baking. The Native Americans quickly brought in 7 deer so that there would be some meat to roast.
Those meager provisions provided the first Thanksgiving meal on this continent. The pilgrims were thankful that they had survived their past misery, both in Europe, and during the brutal previous winter. They were thankful that they were better prepared for the future that was to come. They were also thankful that they had the present moment in which they could feast and give thanks.
Another Thanksgiving meal has been taking place for thousands of years. Some call it “Eucharist.” Some call it “the Lord's Supper,” but it is most commonly called “communion.” This meal commemorates the night Jesus took the bread, gave thanks for it, and distributed it to His disciples to eat. Then, He took the cup, gave thanks for it and gave it to His disciple to drink.
1 Corinthians records the Biblical Thanksgiving meal this way: “...the Lord Jesus, on the night that he was betrayed, took the 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.' In the same way, after supper, He took the cup, saying, 'this cup is the new covenant in My blood, do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes’” (1 Corinthians 11.23-26).
The focus of the Lord's Supper is similar to the reasons the Pilgrims celebrated that first Thanksgiving Day. It looks to the past: sins are forgiven and former misery is gone. It looks to the future: Jesus Christ is going to come again. It provides spiritual strength for the present, the time to celebrate with the Lord is now.
Christians have every reason to be thankful.
“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?” (1 Corinthians 10.16)
Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.