In considering the Eucharist, our thoughts remain fixed on Christ, as the One who lived for us, died for us, and rose for us. This solemnity is not just reserved for the preparation time for the the Lord’s Supper, but it also true after we rise from His table. After a short prayer of thanksgiving and dedication at the table and having shared the sacred meal, it is only appropriate to give thanks to God before we rise from the table. The 18th century Scottish Presbyterian minister John Willison considers this topic in his work entitled A Sacramental Catechism. Willison asks:
Q: Are not vows and prayers requisite at the Lord’s Table?
A: Yes, for here we are to profess our sorrow for sin, and thankfulness for God’s favors, and join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant; and it certainly becomes all true penitents, thankful souls, and honest covenanters, to make vows; and those vows are nothing worth without prayers to God joined therewith, for strength to keep them. And those vows and prayers seem to be most seasonable after our receiving of the elements, and our exerting of the direct acts of communicating.
Having received God’s grace we owe God thanks and this thanks is expressed in service to God, the observance of God’s commandments, and the witness of public worship that it is this God who has saved us in our time of need. In rising from the table, we should acknowledge our great privileges and favors received in Christ. The redeemed of the Lord can say with the Psalmist: “what shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?” (cf. Psalm 116:12). He has heard our voice in distress and He has inclined His ear to us. When our souls laid in death’s strong bands, He delivered us and prevented our feet from stumbling. When we receive the Eucharist, we are confessing the simple truth that our God truly is gracious and merciful. Like the Psalmist, the only appropriate response is
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.(cf. Psalm 116:13-14)
It is this dedication to God’s service which is the substance of the thanksgiving we should offer after having received communion. The conduct of the believer after a communion Sabbath should reflect the high solemnity of the occasion. Believers are above all obligated to express this gratitude by a holy walk. Continuing in A Sacramental Catechism, Willison asks:
Q: What is the nature of these vows, which we ought to come under, at this juncture?
A: A religious vow is a serious oath of dedicating ourselves to the Lord’s use and service; or, it is solemn engagement and promise unto the Lord, whereby we bind and oblige ourselves to be the Lord’s dutiful children and servants.
Furthermore, gratitude also involves an acknowledgment of the mercies of God. We confess this with the heart to God, when we recount to Him all His dealings with us, and praise Him for all His wondrous works. This is why we find in Scripture so many psalms which recount a history of God’s saving acts. Consider the words of Psalm 105:1-3
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
This entire psalm is a proclamation of thanksgiving for the history of salvation and it recounts at length the mighty acts of God for our salvation. Here, we see the vital connection between the biblical concepts of thanksgiving and covenant. Covenant renewal ultimately entails thanksgiving. It is this which refreshes us in hope.
An important part of this thanksgiving that should follow communion is remembering our special relationship to God as our Father. If we are to remember our special relation to God as children of our Father, we are encouraged and given confidence in His service. In the same way, we are to recount in appreciation the redemptive works of Christ and His victorious resurrection. We are to give thanks that in this sacrament the covenant has been renewed once more. We have been restored to an intimate personal relationship with the one eternal God.