Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

 Holy Qurbana: The Sacrament of Thanksgiving

Luke 22: 14-20
This week we are meditating on Holy Qurbana: The Sacrament of thanksgiving. The Holy Eucharist is one of the dominical sacraments, that we believe to have been instituted by Christ Jesus (Matt 28:19-20; 1 Cori. 11:23-30). The Holy Qurbana is a solemn reminder of God offering His son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the salvation of the whole created order. It is the offering of oneself unto God for His divine purpose. It signifies the presence of God and our hope in the eternal Kingdom/reign of God. It is also a symbol of reconciliation in the church. 

The word sacrament is usually defined as a means of Grace. The word sacrament is derived from the Latin word ‘sacramentum’ meaning to ‘make sacred’. A sacrament is a visible means of experiencing the invisible Grace of God. This chapter commences in the days just before the Passover or Feast of Unleavened Bread and records the plot to kill Jesus Christ, the institution of the Lord's Supper, Jesus' arrest and his trial before the Sanhedrin.

The Holy Qurbana: The Celebration of the New Covenant   
We read about the Old Covenant in the book of Hebrews, God enters into a covenant relationship with Abraham and Israel.  It is also part of this covenant that Moses was given the Ten Commandments on the stone slab. God enters into a new covenant with humankind through Jesus Christ. The essence of the covenant is “I am your God, you are my people”.  To love God and to love one's neighbour is to be maintained in this covenant relationship on the part of man.  In the scriptures, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of a new covenant (Jer. 31:31).  The early church proclaimed the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary as this new covenant institution and covenantal sacrifice. The Jewish community saw circumcision as a sign of entering into the Old Covenant relationship, the Church then taught that the believers enter into the New Covenant through Holy Baptism.  
The Holy Qurbana is the celebration of this new covenant together with the members of the church who are part of the body of Christ through the new covenant.  God's purpose is for all members of the church to participate in this celebration together.  It is a ministry of joy and rejoicing shared by all members of the New Testament community.  It is an opportunity to thank God for the human incarnation, public ministry, suffering, death, resurrection, and redemption of humankind through Christ that has been made possible for our atonement. This celebration of the new covenant leads to liberation. 

The Holy Qurbana: Celebration of Liberation 
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the historical background for the establishment of the Lord's Supper. Exodus 12 presents the final chapter in God's miraculous rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt: the plague of the judgment of the firstborn. When the angel of death passed over a household, a family had to put blood from a sacrificed lamb on the doorframe of their house and eat the Passover meal as the Lord had instructed. This lamb and the meal of unleavened bread became the abiding symbol of Israel's deliverance from bondage. 

The United States of America is built upon the ideal of freedom. Though it has not always lived up to the true meaning of its creed, the great struggle in the conscience of America has been the struggle for freedom. On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry spoke the immortal words in defence of freedom and the American Revolution: “Give me liberty or give me death!” For Henry, it was liberty or death. For Jesus Christ, it was liberty by death. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ set us free. Yet, as all know, freedom is not free. This is never truer than of the freedom we have in Jesus.

What are the bondages in our lives? Identify our bondages and experience the real spirit of liberation through the Jesus Christ. As we partake in the Holy Qurbana we are reminded that we are all one in Christ, there is no difference on the basis of gender, background, colour etc. (Gal.3:28). It also reminds us of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross and thereby we are identified with the experience of Christ on Calvary. The church as a whole comes before the Lord’s Table, it discloses the communitarian nature of the Eucharist.  

Lord Jesus we give you thanks for your redeeming sacrifice. We praise you for liberating us through Christ Jesus. As we participate in the Lord’s table, allow us to be reminded of our new covenant with you and your life, death and resurrection made possible for our salvation. Lord, though we may struggle and fail we are grateful to have such a forgiving and loving God. Continue to mould us as Your children, glorifying and honouring you in all we do. In Jesus name we pray. Amen. 

Thought of the day
“The new covenant is purchased by the blood of Christ, effected by the Spirit of Christ, and appropriated by faith in Christ.” John Piper 

Rev.Sanju Varughese
The Bangalore Mar Thoma Centre

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