I want to begin at the ending.
My parents taught me to say “thank you” after attending a birthday party, a sleep over, or anytime I had been in another person’s home. I learned that if one rushed out and neglect to say thank you, it would communicate that I was taking for granted the hospitality given and the time shared.
Stopping at the end of a dinner party or time in someone’s home and thanking the hosts for their hospitality is important. One would never “eat and run” without some word of thanks.
So, I begin at the end…
God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
You will, no doubt, recognize this as the post communion prayer at the end of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is the way we say “thank you” to God. The Holy Eucharist is a sacred meal with Jesus as the host. He welcomes us to His table, feeds us with the spiritual food of his sacramental presence. We share in this covenant meal; it is the Paschal (Passover) meal, and so receive the Grace of this Sacrament.
Before we leave the service we stop to thank God for feeding us, strengthening us, and gracing us with His presence. We thank Jesus for being our host and for preparing us to live as Easter people.
Just as we would never leave someone’s home without speaking heartfelt words of thanks for their hospitality and table fellowship, so it is appropriate for us to do the same at God’s house. Is it possible that we do take for granted this food when we rush from the Altar and move to “the next thing?’ Jesus feeds us as His community of faith. We should, as this community, stop and give thanks in union with Him and each other for what we have received: Christ Himself.
Let the words of the post communion prayer be spoken with a true and thankful heart. Do not rush those words; let them leave our lips as words of faith. Let us leave the service having not neglected to speak our gratitude, as the Church, for the gift of grace and peace just received.