A Thanksgiving communion liturgy and communion itself are wonderful examples of how God acts unexpectedly.
All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” – Luke 15:1-2 (CEB)
Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, but as Christians, we have adopted it as one of our own. Gratitude is central to our Christian identity. The Sacrament we are about to share is actually called the “Thanksgiving” as its Greek name, eucharist, means “giving thanks.”
Thanksgiving, gratitude, giving thanks: these are not merely a reaction to our circumstances but a way of life. It is the way we come into our day and go into the night. It is at the same time an attitude of humility and generosity.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God, giver of all good things, it is in your abundant provision that we gather this day. With your Word, the earth grows plants that yield seeds and fruit trees that bear fruit, filled with seeds that continue the gift of life. In your love, you provide both manna and quail as you free us from what binds and oppresses us. Even now, you set the heavenly banquet Table around which all will gather. Your provision knows no end. For this, we give you thanks.
Jesus, the Bread of Heaven, the Living Water, your grace sustains us. Like a mother nursing her beloved child, you feed us with your very body. You teach us to share in your ministry of compassion, wholeness, and reconciliation. The generosity of your love fills our empty places so that we may bring your love to the empty places in this world. Your provision knows no end. For this, we give you thanks.
Holy Spirit, truth in this world, you hold us in communion. You dwell within us, continuing to make real the presence of Christ. You make us like a tree replanted by streams of water, so that we may bear fruit at just the right time. Though we are many, it is your communion that makes us one Body in Christ. Your provision knows no end. For this, we give you thanks.
Please feed us once again with the loaf and the cup. May they be the very Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation, binding us with Christ and one another. May the grace of this Table extend beyond this time and place so that we are joined with the faithful of every time and place.
As a sign of our communion in you, we join our voices to pray, saying: Our Father…
The first thing Jesus did with both the loaf and the cup was to give thanks for them. We hear these words every time we celebrate this meal, but do we reflect on the depth of this thanksgiving? Thanksgiving for:
God’s provision for the company with whom Jesus shares it, for the broken body that will bring wholeness to the broken, for the blood shed that will bring the forgiveness of sins to many, for our communion together.
The invitation to this Table is not exclusive. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, Pharisees, and legal experts. Regardless of how you come to this Table today, know that you are welcome. Jesus desires to share this meal with you.
Prayer after Communion
Dear Jesus, every time we eat and drink this meal together, we do it in remembrance of you. This Great Thanksgiving is a reminder of your love and provision. As we leave the Table nourished in body and soul, we ask your blessing on the many tables where we will eat during Thanksgiving. May they be tables of abundance and blessing for those who break bread together.
We also lift up those who will not know tables of blessing due to poverty, loneliness, incarceration, broken relationships, or distance. May you provide for them as each has need, and may the leftovers of this Table and our Thanksgiving tables not be limited to food but also love and compassion for others. Amen.
An excerpt from Come to the Table, a collection of communion liturgies written to invite worshipers to experience and respond to the gospel.