Thank you for what I am, what I can do, and what I have

Saying thank you is a noble quality. We express our gratitude for an unexpected gift, for good health, for someone’s help, or for a welcome memory. “There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart,” Celia Thaxter wrote.

How can believing Christians express their gratitude? This is the core question of the divine services of the New Apostolic Church in the month of July.

Gratitude for blessing

One answer, for example, is by offering to God. What matters is how we offer. Offering in the Christian sense should occur without expecting anything in return. What we give we give out of gratitude and love for God. This is not always a piece of cake. “… and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You,” Jacob already said at the beginning of time (Genesis 28: 22). Those who voluntarily offer to God out of love and gratitude do so in many different ways. They offer material gifts, time, energy, and abilities without expecting anything specific in return. The blessing that results from this is primarily of a spiritual nature.

Gratitude for the sending of the Apostles

The divine service on the third Sunday will commemorate a historical date: 14 July 1835. It was on this day that an event of great importance for modern Church history took place: the circle of the twelve English Apostles was now complete. In an essay it says: “It is Sunday morning on 14 July 1835. In the Central Church in London a large congregation has gathered, waiting for the Lord to give them the twelfth Apostle. They feel sure that this is the day when it must happen. However, they are kept on tenterhooks for hours.” The date had been appointed by prophecy long before. The man who had been designated to receive the Apostle ministry was David Dow. But he did not show up. Instead, two proven Angels (Bishops of congregations) were called to stand before the congregation. One of them, Duncan MacKenzie, was called to be the twelfth Apostle by prophecy. The circle of the twelve English Apostles was now complete. On the same day, the rectors of the seven churches in London solemnly subordinated themselves to the Apostles. It had been a long way!

Gratitude for Holy Communion

A further reason to say thank you is the celebration of Holy Communion: Jesus Christ enters His congregation. Through the words of the Priest, the body and blood of Christ are joined to the bread and wine. God is present! A worthy celebration of Holy Communion reminds us of what the Son of God has done for humankind through His sacrificial death. It becomes clear: gratitude and remembrance belong together. When the congregation celebrates communion, it expresses its gratitude and at the same time remembers what the Son of God has done. All who partake of the body and blood of Christ with thanksgiving proclaim this until He returns.

Gratitude for the congregation

And finally we can thank God by helping along in the congregation. The believers comfort each other by setting a good example, by praying, and by accepting each other without reservation. The focus here is on depending on one another. “… that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me,” Paul writes in Romans 1: 12. And indeed, in a congregation there are many good gifts—even in small congregations. There are those who pray, there are role models, loving and caring fellow believers, and hard-working and helpful people. They all depend on each other. They all are congregation.

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Peter Johanning
Divine service