When early Christians gathered for a weekly memorial of Christ’s death, they came together not on the day of his death, but on the day of his resurrection. The commemoration of His sacrifice which brings forgiveness of sins does not focus only on sin and death, but on new life.
We must acknowledge our sins and the need for forgiveness in order to receive the blessings that are found only in Christ. This is why Christians speak of brokenness as something beautiful. But God does not want us to live in brokenness—Christ brings healing so that we may live in joyful gratitude.
Sometimes when Christians gather around the Lord’s table, we have recent sins to confess. (This is one reason for meeting together.) But sometimes Christians glorify repentance so much that we “invent” (minor) sins so we can be seen as repenting. Repentance is not really the goal of the Gospel. It is just one of the first steps toward reconciliation with God. To be always repenting may be to remain always immature, never moving on to live in grace with gratitude for forgiveness.
Perhaps one reason we like to focus on repentance is that we value change. Often our society often values change simply for the sake of change, without regard for whether or not the change is an improvement. Repenting of sin and turning to God is not only radical change, it is good and positive change.
There is another type of change which is highly valued in Scripture: growing toward maturity. This is change which is often gradual and difficult to detect. Repenting and accepting forgiveness are usually obvious. Living a grace filled life is far less dramatic.
There are times when sins should be confessed and repentance renewed. These occasions do not arrive on a predictable schedule. When one has been forgiven, gratitude is always appropriate. Regular reminders of the need to be grateful and to express thanks help us to live in the joy of salvation.
When Christians partake of communion, we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us; we remember God has forgiven the sins we have renounced; we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the new life we now live by the Holy Spirit. And we give thanks. The most common name for this weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the early church was The Eucharist, which comes from the Greek word for “thanksgiving”. Each Lord’s Day, Christians gather and remember that we live in gratitude.