“The Great Thanksgiving” prayer is part of the liturgy we use in the Church to prepare ourselves for the sacrament of Holy Communion. The origins of some its wording dates back to the earliest generations of the Church. It’s a window into what the Church has known and believed from the start about God, human beings, and the relationship between God and human beings.
Whenever I am leading the service of Holy Communion, there is one line in “The Great Thanksgiving” prayer that almost always, makes me pause momentarily because of its significance.
“By the baptism of his (Jesus’) suffering, death, and resurrection you (God) gave birth to your Church, and delivered us from slavery to sin and death…”
This is the Easter message! This is what God has done for us in Jesus Christ!
In Jesus Christ, in his birth, life, death, and resurrection, is the potential and power to be freed from the slavery, addition, chains to sin and death… freed from our “this is just the way it has to be” thinking. Sin doesn’t not have to be our master and death does not have to be our inevitable end. I love this phrase from Stuart Townend’s song “In Christ Alone:”
“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me!”
But the fear of the inevitability of sin and death, doesn’t go easily… even with this power of Christ in our corner. So, don’t forget the gift of the Church… that through Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection God gave birth to the Church. When the Church is really the Church… it can truly be the gift God meant it to be; can help us see, claim, and live into the power of Christ!
My prayer is that it is so for you this Easter season!