“Thine own of Thine own, we offer to Thee, in behalf of all, and for all” (Elevation of Gifts)
What gift can we offer to You which is truly ours to give? Even the awareness of our poverty is a gift that comes from Your Holy Spirit. Like the Little Drummer Boy of the Christmas carol, we have no gifts to bring, unless it be the free will to desire to be here at this moment of the Divine Liturgy at the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of You Yourself, our Lord Christ Jesus, and Your heavenly Father, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in it. In Your great wisdom, Lord Jesus, You chose from the meal the items that require some effort and talent or preparation on behalf of humans. The seeds of wheat planted and cultivated until ripened and made into flour and then bread is Your way of allowing us to take pride in the product; and so too the wine from the grapes. Your bread is our precious nourishment and Your wine having become Your Blood is the stimulant that fires us from complacency, invigorating us with zeal to be worthy of those Gifts.
We learn humility, like its root humus, is a reminder that “You shall eat bread in the sweat of your face till you return from the ground from which you were taken” (Genesis 3:19). We elevate the memory of that announcement spoken by the Almighty as response to Adam’s disobedience. This bread will become the revocation of that curse, because it shall turn into the Bread of Life, the unique Body of God’s only-begotten Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who came into the world to free us from Adam’s sin. Indeed, we return like the wheat and vine, yet the part of us created originally to live forever with the Holy Trinity will go on with Christ to meet the Father with Whom we are reconciled by the humble obedience of God’s will as demonstrated in His acceptance of the cross.
We learn discernment. Life is a continual process of decisions and choices. What is the cost of eternal life? Where on earth do we discover the one precious jewel, that pearl (Matthew 13:45) worth the cost of all other jewels in the world; and once we find it, what shall we do with it? This explains what monastics do with their lives, but it is not only they – all of us have the Christian obligation to sort out the genuine from the fraudulent, the true from the imitation, the lofty from the banal at each stage of our lives here on earth.
We learn loyalty. Only Jesus Christ could win our salvation, and only to Him do we commit ourselves to love, honor and obey throughout our lives here on earth. Because He gave His life for us even to the death on the cross, we cannot live as mere spectators going through the rituals of the faith without offering our own lives as witnesses to His glory and as disciples engaged in manifesting His concerns in all ways possible.
We learn that Church is family. Never is it a One-on-one relationship, but as God is Three Persons in unity, so the two or three assembled in Eucharist are part of an uncountable number of those united through Christ with Father by the Holy Spirit – not only in the parish and diocese, but universally at a certain holy feast day or Sunday. We are members of the Church past, all who have fallen asleep in the Lord since Pentecost, and those who were snatched out of Hades on that most sacred day of rest when God was at work saving those held by death, and all those yet to be born, baptized and welcomed in the holy Church of the future.