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GIVING THANKS AT THE LORD'S SUPPER
By Vestal Chaffin

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)

Of all the great feasts that one may attend, and of all the solemn occasions that one may experience in a lifetime, there will never be one of greater importance, nor one that demands more solemnity and reverence, than that of observing the Lord’s Supper, upon the first day of the week. It is here as we break the “bread” that we commune with the body of Christ, and as we drink of the “cup” that we commune with the blood of Christ. It is here in observing the Lord’s Supper that we meet with Jesus Himself. For He said to His disciples, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). How careful then we ought to be, to follow the pattern of our Lord in the institution of this great feast, in the most minute detail. Especially is this true of those who “officiate” at the table, or give thanks for the bread or the fruit of the vine.

I do not mean to be hypercritical or deliberately finding fault with anyone. But I have thought for a long time that something needs to be said about “giving thanks” at the Lord’s Table. I have observed so many of my brethren, in every section of the country, actually failing to “give thanks” for the “bread” or the “fruit of the vine”.

I hasten to explain what I mean. When one is asked to “express thanks” for the bread, so often, he says something like this: “Our heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the privilege of surrounding thy table. Bless us as we partake of this bread, that we may do so in an acceptable manner. In Christ name we pray. Amen.” Now, what is wrong with what is said? Well, we might ask, did he “give thanks” for the bread? Or did he ask the Lord to “bless” the bread? No, he gave thanks for the “privilege” of surrounding the Lord’s Table! I have never read in the New Testament anything about the Lord giving thanks for the “privilege” even of “instituting” His Supper. He gave thanks for the “elements” of the supper, the bread and the fruit of the vine. I am not saying that it is wrong to thank the Lord for the privilege to assemble and observe the Lord’s Supper, even in the giving of thanks for the bread, or the fruit of the vine. But what I am saying is, that we should not fail to “give thanks” for the bread.

When our Lord instituted His Supper, he took “bread and blessed it” (Matt. 26:26). Mark’s record says, “Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it” (Mark 14:22). Luke’s record tells us, “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it” (Lk. 22:19). The apostle Paul said, “That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it” (1 Cor. 11:23-24). The terms, “giving thanks” and “blessed”, are used interchangeably and mean the same thing. Our Lord “gave thanks” or “blessed” the bread and the fruit of the vine. Should we not do the same?

Brethren quite often, when asked to give thanks for the bread or the fruit of the vine, “give thanks”, for Christ’s coming into the world; for the love He had for us; for the sacrifice Christ made for us; for the blood He shed; for the power of the blood of Jesus to make us free from sins; and for various other things, and yet, never mention the very thing for which we are supposed to be “giving thanks”; that is, the bread that is emblematic of the body of Christ who died for us; or the “cup” or the “fruit of the vine”, emblematic of His blood shed for us.

The Apostle Paul urged Timothy to, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). One of the areas in which we need to give heed to this admonition, is around the Lord’s Table. When you are called on to express “thanks” at the Lord’s Table, do you give “thanks” or do you engage in prayer, and fail to give “thanks”? Brethren, give some thought to these things.

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