Author: Rebecca Mannion
July 14, 2020

In one of my favorite books, One Thousand Gifts, the author Ann Voskamp thoughtfully deconstructs the word Eucharist to help her define the principle of gratitude. Voskamp refers to the passage where the term Eucharist is found and it reads, “He took the bread, he gave thanks for the gift, and broke it” (Luke 21:11).

When Voskamp looks at the etymology and the context of the word Eucharist, she finds this.

  • The word Eucharist means “to give thanks.”
  • The Greek root “charis” means “grace.”
  • “Charis” is derived from the Greek word “chara” meaning “joy.”

In its essence, the term Eucharist means “giving thanks for God’s grace can bring us joy.”  This definition, while defining Eucharist, is also a perfect segue into a blog on gratitude because gratitude has an identical meaning. Gratitude is the act of finding joy through the expression of thanks.

Since March, we have been living in a new reality that has put feelings of fear, loss, and injustice at the center of our lives. During these uncertain times it has been easy to lose sight of the many reasons we have to be joyful. When I started reading Voskamp’s book, I was actively searching for ways to bring joy back into my life.

I had heard many people say that living with gratitude can lead to feelings of happiness and a state of contentment. According to most, however, living with gratitude takes practice so I started my journey into gratitude by taking the easy way. My first “gratitude list” included things that everybody is thankful for. I thought about my family, my job, my home, and my health. Thinking about these things satisfied me for a while, but as the days passed, this satisfaction became momentary and at some point, the list felt incomplete. For the days that followed, I challenged myself to actively look for things in my daily life that I could include on my list. I took notes on the normal and the ordinary – and that is when the gifts of gratitude started to reveal themselves.

I gave thanks for the flowers in my backyard and the warm blankets I slept with in bed. If I woke up to a baby wren sitting at my window, I would thank God that a beautiful creature like that existed and I would secretly express thanks as I realized how miraculous nature was. As I grew aware of how many wonderful things existed in my ordinary day, I began to realize that I was living more than just a good life, I was living a blessed life.

Once my ability to express gratitude for these blessings began, this new attitude had an amazing effect on my mood and feelings. The magic of gratitude is that you can’t help but be reminded of God’s glory, grace, and the depths with which He loves us when you start to recognize all the ways in which He has blessed your life. You realize you have so much to be thankful for, and the intensity of this realization and the power of that thought gives ways to feelings of true happiness and moments of real unadulterated joy.
While it may take some time to fully feel comfortable with this new normal, in the end, a joyous life does not depend solely on our circumstances. Instead, I’ve found that finding joy in our lives depends on our ability to recognize the beauty of God’s glory and grace our ability to feel deep gratitude as we begin to see how much love he has for us.



First Presbyterian Church


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