Simple/organic church ideas and ideals: a collection

A couple of lives ago, I would sometimes wonder about individuals who looked comatose during assemblies, and I would try my best to be an energizing force as a public leader.  At the outset on a given Sunday, my hopes and efforts might have been expressed in “Again the Lord of Life and Light Awakes the Kindling Ray” or “We Shall Assemble on the Mountain” or “This is the Day,” or in prayer words or public readings—and the intentional, typically selective choice of others to lead with me.  It might have been specifically chosen words of welcome, or songs designed to “get you going” or to speak to one another, or a reading (scripture or otherwise) purposed to center the congregation in deep worship before a hymn such as “Lord of All Being” or “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.”  Most of what I planned and did had the aim getting everyone to feel engaged and energized and purposeful during our corporate time. 

I’ve known for decades that the way my particular group (in Wilmington or Rochester or Greeley or wherever) “did church” wasn’t obligatory; furthermore, I’ve known down deep for at least one decade that it wasn’t working well for me and probably for others.  I can’t know exactly why John or Sally looked disinterested and didn’t seem to participate, but I do know now that “doing church” can dull the senses and stupefy the soul.  It doesn’t have to, but it can.

These days, most assemblies at regular, established churches leave me discouraged and robbed of most of the energy I’d had when I walked in.  I have become one who appears lifeless most of the time during a gathering.  And so I long for something else, something to quicken the spirit. . . .

There is another way.  I read about it and think about it often, but I’ve only experienced it in short bursts so far.  In this post, I’m sharing a collection of others’ thoughts on simple/organic church.  Whether you are a “done” or are edging toward “almost done,” or well sensitized to those tho fit those labels, you and other thoughtful people can find rejuvenated purpose here.  I led this piece with reflections on assemblies in a relatively traditional pattern, but not all these ideas are related to gatherings.  They describe realities and dynamics that are more or less distinct from established church patterns, focusing more attention on discipleship.  As Roger Thoman says in one essay, it is about “no longer thinking of the church as an event or place to go, but realizing that we, his people, really are the church everywhere and every place that we go.”  This is no great revelation; most with any degree of biblically based upbringing will find that last sentence eminently palatable.  For my part, I continue to think Christian gatherings are of great importance, but how they appear in my life is shifting.  However they appear in all our lives, the challenge is to promote the “be the church” ideal to the higher level.


Here are some words of someone who once didn’t get why anyone would want to keep meeting with a house church “when larger churches with exciting youth programs, riveting preachers and spectacular worship music” are available:

http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2016/08/house-church-not-real-church.html


This post deals with the intended reality that every person is a minister/servant.  It’s not just a Monday-through-Saturday concept; it works at Sunday gatherings, too!  

http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2017/05/every-person-a-minister-when-we-gather.html


Here’s a piece by Thom Schultz of Group Publishing, in which he refers to author Doug Pollock encouraging us to be comfortable asking “wondering” questions (and not depending on the “sage on the stage” or  “master fisherman” on Sundays):  

https://holysoup.com/talking-about-god-without-being-a-jerk/


“The Church as Industrial Complex is a resource-driven form of church that has a gravitational pull that unintentionally turns spirituality into a product, church growth into a race, leadership into a business and attendees into consumers.”  – JR Woodward and Dan White, Jr.

20 Truths from The Church as Movement (Christianity Today)


  1. Love God. Love People. Make Disciples
  2. Disciples Make Disciples Who Make Disciples
  3. Embody the Gospel Where You Live
  4. Church Isn’t a Destination, It’s People

http://www.6wordlessons.com/six-word-lessons-to-discover-missional-living.html


“It is interesting to note that simple is reproducible. Simple is able to be passed along. Simple can become viral. Keeping things simple can reduce the temptation toward creating religious structures and church institutions by encouraging a simple, basic listening/surrendering relationship to Jesus whom we love and follow.”  – Roger Thoman

http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2016/10/keeping-it-simple-beautiful-reproducible.html


This quotation puts the emphasis on daily discipleship:

“For me, the paradigm of simple/house/organic church is not about a way to do church but a calling to continue to find Jesus in the stuff of life, follow Him, and pursue His adventurous calling while refusing to get boxed in by anything that wants to pull me back into the lazy boxes of yesteryear.”  – Roger Thoman

http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2016/12/toward-his-highest-and-best.html


“It is a vision of no longer thinking of the church as an event or place to go, but realizing that we, his people, really are the church everywhere and every place that we go.”   – Roger Thoman

“[I dream of a] church, which does not need huge amounts of money, or rhetoric, control and manipulation . . .”  Wolfgang Simson

http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2017/04/catching-the-vision-of-church-as-it-can-be.html

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Brief debriefs

Here are three reactions for posterity after various church visits.

After the middle-aged “Bible” class at “Athens” Church:

If that was text study, I can see why the younger people wanted something different and started their own discussion group.  I wish I’d found a different class upon walking in the door.  But then there was the assembly proper (beginning with the third of the three triple whammies described here) and that would’ve put me into a spiritual fit, anyway.

After “Bible” class at “Western Farms” Church

If some people weren’t so insistent on continuing to talk in order to prove they know something they don’t know after all, God might be able to speak through the text.  (But, boy, was I pleasantly surprised and gratified when the sort-of-teacher’s-helper came to me as I left the room and thanked me for bringing him “back to the Bible” in my 2-minute comment toward the end of class.  [Sorry if that comes off as boastful. I mean mostly to call attention to a little oasis in this particular desert.  Once in a while I need to remind myself of a tad bit of personal worth.])

After Creektown Church’s “singing”:

Most churches fall somewhere between mildly disappointing and stultifying in many activities.  The singing aspect of this church’s gathering, experienced for a grand total of five minutes this very morning, didn’t come anywhere close to either of those.  It wasn’t even embarrassing.  It was an utter travesty, and doubly so because no one seemed to be aware of how bad it was.

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Did that make any sense?  Didn’t think so.  The singing at this place was like that:  nonsense.  The reasonable-quality gospel song sung from a poor-quality hymnal should have been familiar to at least half the people in the room, but the “leader” had not a fraction of a clue.  This was not your garden-variety obtuse or relatively unskilled leader.  This was like a paraplegic in a relay race or a short-order cook negotiating a nuclear treaty with the dictator of a 2nd-world communist country.  “Face to Face” ended up sung to a mixed-up, bad-form version of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and believe me, no one intended that—or registered a quizzical look when it happened.  It was melodically confused and harmonically chaotic.  The next song, the Gaither favorite “He Lives,” began in at least three different keys with equal melodic confusion.  And no one even seemed aware.  And that in itself should be embarrassing.  Maybe I should have left out the 2nd half of this paragraph.  Nah.


I have purposefully avoided identifying any of the three churches with its actual name; no human soul will be able to figure out the actual name of more than one of them, and I can think of only one person at one of these churches that has even a remote chance of seeing this post.  The point is certainly not to make anyone feel bad.  I mean mostly to blow off steam, I suppose . . . although it would probably be advisable for a good number of my readers to stand back at their churches to measure the purposefulness, effectiveness, and quality of various aspects.

Maybe you have some influence where you are?

B. Casey, 12/11/16

A few minutes with some Mennonites

A few Sunday mornings ago, I took an hour-long ride to visit a conservative Mennonite group.  I had met a nice, bonneted woman selling baked goods at the Farmer’s Market, and she told me where to find them.  It was way in the middle of nowhere, as they say, but it was a nice, 10-year-old, spacious, well-kept building.  Here are a few observations.

Some things are the same but different. . . .

I heard some issues with vocal pitch, but they were more along the lines of crooning and slip-sliding whereas flatting and flat-out singing-out-of-key are the prevalent intonation “sins” in a cappella Church of Christ groups.  In this 100-person Mennonite church, intra-congregational intonation was the best I’ve ever heard.

The Bible is certainly emphasized in both groups, both in Bible classes and in the assembly proper.  In the former setting, the Mennonites traveled along similarly out-of-context tangents and loops, although the specific commentary had a distinct, other-worldly flavor.  That is to say:  (1) these Mennonites were other-worldly themselves, and (2) their dialogue compellingly emphasized the over-arching, compelling Kingdom of God and their place in it, and their interest in bringing others into the Reign.  I take #1 as something between neutral and mildly undesirable, whereas I take #2 as convicting and absolutely to be desired.

Both groups have a plurality of teacher-pastors.  Both seem to use relational terms such as “brother,” “sister,” and “Christian”  frequently.

And some things are more different than same. . . .

One notable difference in a conservative Mennonite church is the seating:  men are all on one side, and women, on the other.  (I shouldn’t make a deal out of which side was which, because, assuming the leader’s lectern represents God’s vantage point, the women were on the “goat” side.  I once had a similar communication issue with hanging “I Am” and “Jesus the Messiah” banners.  I digress.)  In thinking that anyone would actually have men and women separate in this day and age, most “modern” (and I use that term advisedly) people, Christian or not, will shake their heads in disbelief or disapproval, but the idea of sitting that way merits some consideration.  Think of the better teen focus when no one is holding hands with the girlfriend of the month.  Think of  the “divide and conquer” that can occur in terms of parenting when men have their little sons and women have the daughters.  And think of the solidarity in terms of vocal range and voice parts.  The sound is surely enhanced by a sense of strength in numbers.

There were more coats and ties on the Mennonite men, but not all.  (In any CofC building in my last 15 years, groups are down to something between 0 and 15% wearing a coat and/or a tie.  Baptists are probably about the same.)  Pants were mostly black or navy, but a couple had tan pants on.  I saw only black shoes.  All the women were in dresses, as expected.  Children behaved better and still had great personalities.  I would be naturally drawn to some of the families as I observed them.

Only the KJV Bible was used, but I couldn’t help feeling that that practice was more a subconscious, old-world habit than a conscious translation choice.

I believe all three pastors were on the stage, and I didn’t know what to make of that, because not all of them were really active per se.  It was as though they were collectively “watching over the flock.”  I would like to think they did that through the week in more meaningful ways.

A more subtle yet deeper difference was in what I would call a “thoughtful waiting” that characterized so many aspects and events.  In Bible class, at least seven or eight different men spoke up at one time or another, and I noticed that there was some silence after each comment, as though everyone habitually considered everything that was said.  Also, a couple of seconds transpired between stanzas of songs and hymns.  I’ve heard that this is the habit in British churches of various stripes.  It was almost awkward for me, but I think it would be worth getting used to.  The quality of the sung thoughts was, not incidentally, much higher than the aggregate in any Church of Christ I’ve experienced in a long time—and at least on par with other church groups in my experience.

As indicated above, the Mennonites emphasize being in the world but not of it.  They are pilgrims.  (And that is an eminently biblical view, of course.)  They pray more, and most prayers included kneeling.

They have their pet phrases, just as people of other denominations.  One that I heard at least a dozen times, in conjunction with handshakes, was a hearty “Welcome here!”  I believe they meant it.  And I did feel welcome.  I plan to return for singing one evening this winter.

For a few observations from a Mennonite pamphlet, please see my other blog here.

Packaging

Many jokes have been made about Ivory™ soap’s being (only) 99.44% pure, but I think that’s probably a better stat than that of most other soaps, my wife’s homemade Little Goat’s Natural Soaps excepted.  (Ahem.  That was a cue for a few of you readers who’ve used her soap to say, “Yeah, Karly’s soaps are great.”)

I have been an Ivory soap user for as long as I can remember.  Once in a while, I try another soap but always return to Ivory.  I used Irish Spring as a teenager, and that use might have contributed to a few more zits than I would have had otherwise.  Coast, Lifebuoy, Dial, Safeguard . . . I’ve tried those and more, but my staple bar of soap has always been Ivory.

For all Ivory’s merits, I absolutely hate the packaging.  The wrapping is horribly hard to handle.  About 49 of 50 times, unwrapping the bar takes at least a solid minute and results in something like this:img_20160915_064445_706.jpgI didn’t even mention the outer, clear plastic layer that wraps the whole 8-bar pack.  That in itself can require a knife or a set of fingernail clippers or at least a key to remove.  But the damp, white-paper inner wrapping comes off only with greater effort, and a lot of mess, pretty much every time.  You’d think that a soap that’s been around for 125 years could do better than that with its wrapping.  But I keep coming back to it, because what’s inside is what I’m after.


I have been a Christian since I was 9.  (The definition of “Christian” is significant but is beside my point here.)  And I’ve been an active participant with a number of churches.  What I have inside and what the churches have inside can be as difficult to get to as Ivory soap is, given the packaging!  Since it’s less comfortable to talk about my individual heart than the “inside” of church groups, I’ll opt to spend a few words on the latter.

The packaging or wrapping of a church might include, but not be limited to, these elements:

  • Signage
  • Condition of the parking lot and ease of driving in and out
  • Attractiveness, condition, and cleanliness of the building (if there is one)
  • Manner of activities in the assembly (including perceived “style”)
  • Denominational overlay (whether acknowledged or not)

I prefer my parking lots to be paved, but that’s not too big a deal.  I do actually reject some churches as potential “homes” based on such surface-level elements as signage.

A recognized denominational name on the sign?  Although I try to be un-denominational, some signs can lead me instantly to reject a church as a possibility for me.

A narrow-minded message?  If a sign advertises “fundamental” or “KJV only” (or some such), I can know I wouldn’t be accepted there and would end up either being miserable or causing disunity.

I can leave some churches on the shelf, as it were, never needing to “purchase” or unwrap the “product,” although others might find value in what they’re selling.  It takes a little more time and effort to unwrap some other churches.  One church we’ve visited twice has a kind of packaging that we think might end up being deceptive, not revealing all that’s inside.  (If I’m fair, I suppose that’s true about most groups.)  We’re still not sure, but when you tear a couple corners off, the product doesn’t seem to be worth the money, so to speak.

Another church seems to have less wrapping that obscures the product.  (I wonder if “truth in advertising” laws could apply to churches?  Not really.)  This one has some nicely conceived outer packaging but also some inner wrapping that might present some problems for me.  (Oh, how I hate finally getting that first layer off the product, only to find that I have to struggle with yet another layer of wrapping.)

Yet another church, visited once recently on a special occasion, is from a brand I have “trusted” (to an extent) for many years.  I suppose that, if I’m honest with myself, I’d have to admit that I keep returning to this brand in some way because I know its history—but the Ivory isn’t always as pure as the wrapping claims, if you know what I mean.  And then, come to find out, even the best bars of this particular brand were only about 77% pure to start with.  At any rate, the packaging of this one local church included some noticeably outdated communication styles—think veggie burger in a 1950s McDonald’s wrapper or maybe hip-hop on an audio cassette.  More important than the wrapping:  the product found inside was lacking, to my eyes and ears and soul.

We’ll see how the process goes.  Maybe, just maybe, the traditional wrapping in terms of church building cosmetics will ultimately reveal a pure, purposeful, viable church group “product.”

A few points

Someone has said that “residue” is what you have when you finish most of something, and then the “res I due” tomorrow.”  This post is the final residue from last fall’s worship series,¹ and I’m “due”ing it today.

~ ~ ~

Cecil Hook was one of the most gracious, gentle spirits one could ever hope to know, and was the author of at least five books.²  Toward the end of each of the later books, he would offer brief, discrete teachings in collections called “Hook’s Points.”  I’m taking that habit as my cue here, offering a few points here about worship and the assembly.

Public and Private

Worship should be both private and public.  Worshippers should participate and experience alone and in groups.

Your church might call the main gathering a “worship assembly” or “corporate worship,” and the gathering probably includes some worship, but it is almost certainly not completely filled with worship activities.  If the strong majority of the public gathering’s activities are not worship per se, it should probably be called something else.  Likewise, your private life may involve some worship, but it is not completely filled with worship.

Those who think corporate worship is overrated or even entirely misconceived may be duly reacting to an overemphasis on the assembly in the scheme of Christian life.³  They may also be inclined toward the idea of “whole-life worship” (a more private concept), which is often rooted in a misguided extrapolation/misguided interpretation of Romans 12:1.

Those who actually think everything in their weekly public gatherings is worship are equally misguided, mistaking centuries of church “worship service” tradition for biblical examples and principles.

Happy and Sad

I once bought into the idea that Sunday mornings were for celebration. I now think that notion is incomplete and inadequate.

Worship leaders, I hope many of you will hear this, if you aren’t already starkly aware of it:  not everyone comes into your assembly feeling glad and worship-filled.  If you start every assembly in a hip-hip-hooray mode and act as if everyone ought to be celebrating all the time, you’re leaving out a lot of people.

Worship is not always celebratory and actually has many faces.  At times, we worship “anyway,” because God is the worthy One.  Among contemporary songs, Fernando Ortega’s “I Will Praise Him Still” approaches worship from this determined, humble, “despite what’s going on” angle.

Music

Worship and “worship music” are not equivalent expressions.  Music doesn’t have the universal appeal that some assume.

There probably was a time when I was just that insistent and insensitive in public leadership, coming across as over-interested in worship music.  Not everyone is that interested, and that’s OK.  At this point, having lived more years, I refuse to equate the musical experience (no matter the style) with worship.  There is much more to worship than music.

Verbal action/noun sense

Worship may not, must not be reduced to any list of “acts” that supposedly fulfill a supposed checklist.  To suggest that the scriptures communicate a group of “five (or six) acts of worship” is to make up something out of thin air.

Although “worship” can be either noun or verb, both can be limiting.  To say “X church has ‘a good worship'” is too noun-ish, n’est-ce pas?  It is truth to say that worship is active in various ways, but reducing it to one or more “acts” may suggest that those actions are always observable, attaining only to a part of the reality.

When I worship, my spirit acts, and my body may act, too. But far be it from me to attempt to come up with a list of “acts” that comprise the whole of worship.  Such a list cannot be written, nor can my worshipping (how’s that for a verbal noun?) ever be sufficient.


¹ If you’re interested in that series but missed it, use this link, and then scroll back a few posts to one of the summary “What Was All That About?” posts.  Material on worship words was presented, as well as resource lists and quotations and a few other goodies.  (Or, wait for the book that will include revised versions of those studies, planned for release in 2-3 months.)

² Hook’s books were titled Free in Christ, Free To Speak, Free as Sons, Free To Change, and Free To Accept.  I was privileged to contribute editorially to the last two and to a major revision of the first.  I wish I had assumed more of Hook’s mantle of grace, not to mention his succinctness in writing!

³ It is my sense that Cecil Hook was among this group.  He did not write much about worship, and when he did, it was more of a disclaimer, a pointer-away-from the over-emphasis on supposed rectitude in assembly worship.  He was, however, very gracious and affirming toward me and my somewhat different views on the nature and place of worship in thought and life.  For more than a quarter-century now, I have emphasized that worship is not by any means bound to Christian assemblies, nor are assemblies (to be) entirely composed of worship activities.  Cecil emphasized more of the horizontal, which I also support, while I have at most points emphasized the vertical.

 

Not really much praise

One evening last month, we had a relatively good congregational singing experience (operative word:  relatively).  There were a few high-quality songs sung, and folks around us were participating.  However . . .

A prayer-leader did that trite thing of thanking God for these “beautiful songs of praise we’ve been singing.”  This is an often-heard phrase, trite to some ears, and frequently perfunctory.  I sometimes hear meaning where people might not intend for there to be any, and the expression always sets me off.  In this case, I would characterize the first four songs that had been sung like this:

The first song:  A pretty good, if over-sung, song of praise, not really marked by “beauty” but more by gusto, and sung with considerable laxity of pulse and no visual connection whatsoever to the song leader’s arm

The next one:  A slightly less effective, even more over-sung, song of indirect praise, sung with all the rhythmic momentum of a whale in the process of being beached over a period of 3 minutes

Next:  A ridiculous song that borders on the blasphemous, making musical fun of Jesus’ atonement (no praise in that one for me, at least)

And fourth:  A heaven song that had no praise component at all and plodded along as a sort of dirge for weary travelers who might rather be spelunkers or earthworms than heaven-bound rejoicers

Those “beautiful songs of praise,” then, had very little beauty except for the resonant sound of a large group . . . and only about half of the content was really praise.  The point is not that non-praise songs shouldn’t be sung (of course they may be sung); the point is that we ought at least to know what we’re singing and manifest some intentional care in our verbal descriptions.

Later, a young leader tried to foist on this mostly older church a contemporary song they didn’t know.  This one had significant syncopation, wasn’t arranged all that well . . . and then wasn’t sung (by anyone — the leader, anyone around me, or even myself, because I gave up on the bad arrangement since no one else was using it) according to the notation.  This song actually had far better worship content than the four mentioned above, but it fell flat for musical reasons.

“In these things I have no praise for you”!
soup naziNot to be an “assembly nazi” who grunts, “No praise for you” like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, but other aspects of that night demonstrated some practices to avoid in the Christian assembly.  In these things I offer neither comfort-soup nor praise for the leaders and planners.  They really  . . .

. . . should not have put their preacher in charge of a night of singing just because . . . well, because he’s on salary . . . and after all, he’s supposed to be in charge (isn’t he?)

. . . should not have made a point of announcing or displaying leader names, as though they were “performing artists” coming on stage to nab some attention instead of pointing to God (I don’t need to see the guy’s name in lights if I know him already; if on the other hand I don’t know him, seeing his name is in lights is probably pointless for another reason.)

. . . should not have used a token leader (you know what I mean—a teenager or young boy, a person with a different skin color, etc.) merely because of the token factor

. . . should not have tried to use heavily syncopated, contemporary songs in an a cappella setting (for many are the available songs, and few there be who know how to select the ones that work well enough in a cappella congregations)

. . . should not have changed a few PowerPoint slides so late that most people couldn’t sing the first word or two on the next slide

. . . should not have left the mic up turned up loud for the loud-voiced leaders (Dear Sound Guy, you have to realize that the reason you can’t hear the problem is that you’re in a different, closed-off room when you’re running the sound board . . . and if you did happen somehow to be monitoring the ambient sound that evening, please have your ears checked!)


The day after I wrote this post, I happened to surf to a site on which someone had posted this:

“We need more models and less critics.”

And I thought, “Hmm . . . the models don’t seem to be working very well, actually, so I’d have to say we need more thoughtful criticism, not less . . . combining it with the willingness to make changes.”

What if John Wycliffe or Martin Luther or Menno Simons had decided not to criticize because, well, “I don’t want anyone to think I’m being critical”?  (No, I don’t think what I say is on that level.  Rarely even close.  I do think, though, that anyone with valid, critical observations ought to speak.)

Oh, and that should have been “fewer critics,” not “less critics.”

[My criticism of whatever—questionable grammar & punctuation, stupid church tricks, inept Bible study, bad road signs, etc.—is always intended to cause people to take notice of problems, making some changes where they can.]

A unique meal

One of my grandmothers once taught that “unique” doesn’t take the modifier “very.”  A thing cannot be “very unique.”  It’s either unique (singular) or isn’t.  I doubt most Thanksgiving meals will be unique today, but one historic meal was truly, spiritually unique.  And I’m not talking about Pilgrims and Indians here.

Once, the Savior of the world took bread and wine—and gave both of those substances new, albeit historically connected, symbolisms.  I’ve come to understand that, in Hebrew tradition, one “blesses God” at mealtimes and other times, rather than asking for a blessing.  It seems likely that Jesus would have been acting in line with that tradition at His last meal with his closest associates.

Paul’s recounting of that unique meal goes something like this:

23 So, I obtained from the Lord’s hand the same thing I subsequently handed on to you—that our own Lord Jesus, on the night when he began to be turned over, 24 broke bread in his hands, giving thanks and commenting like this:

“Notice this bread.  See it as the representation of my body, given on your behalf.
Eat it, and in doing so, you’ll be calling me into remembrance .”

25 Similarly also he offered the cup after dining, and he expressed this message:

“Now, notice this cup.  Its contents are, in effect, the signature on my new, final ‘last will and testament.’
Drink it, and each and every time you do, you’ll be calling into remembrance my body and blood.”

26 The upshot is that, each and every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you will in effect be broadly declaring the symbolic meaning of the Lord’s death, in anticipation of his coming.

1Cor 11:23-26 paraphrase by Brian Casey, Fall 2015

Soon I’ll plan to share some detailed commentary and insights gained during the process of my wrestling with the above text.  There is so much here!  Mnemonic phrases, alliteration, emphatic forms, theologically significant metonymy, and thematic ties to other messages in 1Corinthians—all these and more help Paul to achieve his communicative aims.

For today, we might consider that a human can bless God.  This phrasing seems strange to us English-speakers, since the word “bless” has come to mean something that the greater does for the lesser.  Yet Jesus himself, in human form, blessed God:  in the more Jewish context of Matthew 26, the word at the final dinner is eulogeo (roughly, “good words,” from which later sprang our word “eulogy”).

In 1Corinthians, Paul’s word is eucharisteo (roughly “give thanks,” from which the transliteration “eucharist” was later derived, in what seems to me a linguistically unusual, but surely not unique, chain of events).  On the occasion depicted in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and 1Corinthians 11, the bread received in gratitude was coming to symbolize Jesus’ own striped, broken flesh.  That was and is something that merits lavish thankfulness.  To speak good words of thanks is to bless God.

On this day, it would not be inappropriate to remember Jesus’ offering of Himself as we both bless God and thank Him for blessings.

B. Casey, 11/26/15