After Giving Thanks

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Mark 14:12-25

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. (v. 23 NRSV)

It’s a simple thing, often overlooked or perfunctorily done: giving thanks for the food and drink set before us. All too often we rush into a meal without even thinking to offer thanks. Or we mutter something by rote. Or we pray but without really pausing to think of and thank all those who made our meal possible: farmers, gardeners, seed distributors, truckers, store owners, cooks, servers.

In the story of the Last Supper we often rush by these simple words—and after giving thanks—in our desire to get to the rest of the story. After all, this story includes betrayal, anxiety, denial, clues as to the guilty, a ritual meal, mention of blood, predictions of the future. But tucked into Mark’s narrative is his usual attention to detail, in this case about what Jesus did at his last Passover Supper. Among other things, he blessed the bread and gave thanks for the wine. And then he offered bread and wine to his disciples with the words “Take, this is my body” (v. 22) and “This is my blood of the new covenant” (v. 24). We call it by different names—The Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist—but it includes the same prayer of gratitude.

PRAYER

We thank you, O Lord, for the gift of yourself.